Let’s Get Physical

The Firm celebrates 26 years with a hot new location

Kelly Miyamoto, owner of The Firm, a Minneapolis workout studio, is bubbly and blonde, with long fingernails, shiny lip gloss, and fitted jeans. She looks to be in her mid-30s but couldn’t possibly be, given her tenure. She’s been firing up clients since 1986, when working out was called “aerobics” and Jane Fonda and Jamie Lee Curtis led classes on VHS in thong leotards and legwarmers. “Remember those?” Miyamoto asks, while pantomiming squeezing on a leotard.

But The Firm has survived ’80s fad diets and Thighmasters due to Miyamoto’s sharp business acumen. Indeed, this longtime fitness hot spot was the first in the Midwest to offer funk-dance, cardio-kickboxing, step, and spin classes. That, in turn, has garnered them some respectable national honors, including accolades for best workout from Glamour, Harper’s Bazaar, Self, and Seventeen magazines.

When Miyamoto strides confidently through the new space—which is sparkling white, full of angular spaces and soaring ceilings (think Walker Art Center interiors, with an outer shell that looks like a corrugated-tin manufacturing plant)—she points out the new studio classes and the 76 new spin bikes. And there’s new programming that’s likely to cause even more buzz: the new location now boasts CrossFit classes. Called “functional training,” the intense program goes back to basics with routines culled from kettlebells, rowing, and weightlifting. Then there’s Firm F.I.T., a two-month, one hour a day, small-group personal-training program. The gym also added the white-hot Latin-dance workout, Zumba, and heated yoga to its repertoire.

As Miyamoto explains all this at a breakneck pace, she stops often to greet gym-goers by name, seeming to know a little something about each, whether it’s the schedule they keep or a bit about their personal life. It doesn’t appear to be a politician’s trick: when she calls out to them by name, they light up and  hug her, sweaty towel and all.

The Firm is a sexy sort of gym. The doors on the studios barely contain the hard-driving bass that powers gym-goers through a punishing spin—you can see the sweat flying—or circuit-training class. “There is a lot of social networking here,” Miyamoto says. “CEOs and waitresses are sweating here together.” Doug Melroe, a longtime instructor, has been known to teach such intense funk-dance classes that students have called in “sick” to work the following day. Yet people keep coming, likely due to the party-hearty atmosphere—how can you be “working out” when you’re having fun?


1. Memberships range from $97 to $150 a month, and can include a la carte options.
2. Sacha Martin, who owns Bluebird and Ladyslipper in Edina, is the retail buyer.
3. Go, already: 1010 N. Second Ave., Mpls., 612-377-3003, thefirmmpls.com

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