MADrave: Boutique fitness facilities join forces for fun

Last week, the owners of MADabolic, Tru Pilates, and Opal Yoga came together to lead MADrave, an intense 90-minute workout, complete with body paint and glow sticks. Photo courtesy MADabolic Last week, the owners of MADabolic, Tru Pilates, and Opal Yoga came together to lead MADrave, an intense 90-minute workout, complete with body paint and glow sticks. Photo courtesy MADabolic

It’s 9pm on Saturday, and I’m finally catching my breath. I’ve got glow sticks tied around my ponytail, hot pink face paint smeared on my cheeks, and sweat dripping down my nose. I do as I’m told and push my forearms against the wall, leaning deeper into a lunge position to stretch my calves. The burly guy next to me, who has biceps the size of my thighs and was hopping around the studio cheering us through a high-energy interval workout just minutes earlier, groans and curses under his breath when the Pilates instructor gently adjusts his back foot less than half an inch. The twig of a woman on my other side, who ten minutes earlier was jabbing determinedly at the punching bag, breathes easily and sinks into the stretch with a serene expression on her face. We’ve all stepped outside of our fitness comfort zone at least once in the last hour, and put ourselves at the mercy of exercises our bodies aren’t used to.

It’s easy to get stuck in a fitness rut, and as a runner, I’m guilty of it myself. I get so wrapped up in my mileage that I forget about strength training and core work, and when I do venture into the gym for a spinning or boxing class, I find myself hobbling around for days, wishing I hadn’t neglected those muscles for so long. 

“Each modality has its limits,” said Opal Yoga owner Karen Thomas. “It’s hard to cover all the bases with one particular type of exercise.”

Last Saturday, Thomas teamed up with the owners of interval training gym MADabolic and equipment-based studio Tru Pilates to host MADrave, a $45 evening workout that combined gentle yoga, intense cardio strength training, and slow, deep stretching—oh, plus black lights, glow sticks, club music, face paint, and beer. The brainchild of MADabolic co-owner Val Morini, the event was born out of discussions about how to push fitness boundaries and yank people out of their comfort zones. The idea was to combine three types of exercise that aren’t in competition but rather complement one another, and present them side-by-side with a party-like atmosphere to appeal to people from every point on the fitness spectrum. 

MADabolic co-owner Dar Malecki said she was skeptical of the idea at first, unsure if the other partners would buy into the concept of a hybrid workout. But Opal and Tru Pilates hopped right on board, and the details just fell into place.

“We’re all really good at what we do, because that’s all we do,” Malecki said, noting that box gyms can’t be experts at everything and provide the same level of specialty. “I don’t believe we’re competitors, and what we teach totally complements one another.”

The “rave” aspect of it, however, she was into from the word go.

“It’s kind of part of our lifestyle,” Malecki said. “We work hard and we play hard. Everything in moderation, so why not bring them together?”

Days after the event, the kegs from Champion are tapped, the glow sticks are faded, and my legs are still so sore from the gorilla jump squats during the interval workout that I can barely get dressed in the morning. I fully recognize the need to supplement cardio with strength training and rejuvenating stretches, but the chances that I’ll hop from one expensive boutique gym to the next are slim. The masterminds behind MADrave recognize that, and are already discussing the next event and new ways to cross those boundaries. Malecki noted that boutique fitness centers are all the rage now, but five years from now, who knows what the workout world will look like.

“It’s market-driven, and fitness is always evolving,” Malecki said.


Come get your sit on with Common Ground this weekend. On Saturday, June 14, the healing arts center will host the third annual Sit-a-Thon, a community meditation event and the nonprofit’s largest fundraiser of the year. Beginning at 10am, insight meditation teacher Pat Coffey will lead the group in 20-minute segments each of seated, walking, and heart (also known as metta, or loving-kindness) meditations in the sanctuary at The Haven. An optional Q&A and reception will follow the hour-long sit. To get involved, you can either find sponsors for your sit, sponsor a team member, or make a donation of any amount. For more information, visit 

The 22nd annual Women’s Four Miler is less than three months away, and it’s almost time to start training. The beloved Labor Day weekend race benefits the UVA Cancer Center Breast Care Program, and last year the event raised $370,000. You’ve still got plenty of time to prepare, so grab your girlfriends and join the group every Saturday between now and the race at 7am at the UVA track for a training program open to all levels. Registration opens on Saturday, June 21, and act fast, because only the first 3,500 runners and walkers get bibs. 


Posted In:     Living

Previous Post

Drink it in: Nights on the town with cabbies, staffers, a professor, and the ambassador

Next Post

Roaming costs: Is free ranging your kids worth the worry?

Our comments system is designed to foster a lively debate of ideas, offer a forum for the exchange of ad hoc information, and solicit honest, respectful feedback about the work we do. We’re glad you’re participating. Here are a few simple rules to follow, which should be relatively straightforward.

1) Don’t call people names or accuse them of things you cannot support.
2) Don’t direct foul language, racial slurs, or offensive terms at other commenters or our staff.
3) Don’t use the discussion on our site for commercial (or shameless personal) promotion.

We reserve the right to remove posts and ban commenters who violate any of the rules listed above, or the spirit of the discussion. We’re trying to create a safe space for a wide range of people to express themselves, and we believe that goal can only be achieved through thoughtful, sensitive editorial control.

If you have questions or comments about our policies or about a specific post, please send an e-mail to

Leave a Reply

Notify of