Step just around the corner from the eclectic Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris' artsy 4th district, on rue Quincampoix, and enter into a surreal ambiance of hip lounge music mixed with upbeat house, endless mirrors, LCD screens galore ... hope you're dressed in your best Puma Black Label runners and have your iPod Nano latched on tight because you are in for quite a workout from the gorgeous, built trainers waiting at the door, all smiles ...
Welcome to l'Usine, a hot new fitness center concept that is a refreshing contrast to the gym as we know it.
Once you pick up your hot-of-the-press fluffy white towel and bottle of Evian, head to the main exercise floor where elliptical machines are arranged cleverly in an egg-shape around a flower of flat screens showing the newest movies for your viewing pleasure; treadmills and bikes have their own mini programmable TVs. The free weight and machine room is surrounded with mirrors so you can see yourself getting buffer by the minute. Remember those gorgeous trainers you met at the door? If desired, they shall stay by your side and guide you along a personalised circuit.
Turn your friends green with envy after a few classes of hyper-toning Body Balance; it's basically 60 minutes of abs and glutes but somehow the time flies amid the groovy surround sound and emerald-tinted lights. In fact, the instructors modify the color scheme in the room depending on the level of intensity of each class. Yoga is a relaxing treat in soothing lavendar tones accompanied by nature-y tunes. You'll be asking yourself in no time: is there an iPhone app for this experience? Hmmm... I'm sure even busybee Jobs wouldn't mind a designer gym break every now and then!
Can't sweat no more? It's time for a little R&R, or 'détente' as the French appellation.
Descending a winding staircase of centuries-old stone into the cave-like (as in vintage wine, not vampires) spa and relaxation area below, you can climb the built-in solid oak the stretching ladder to let the strain out of sore muscles. Or, go straight to the hammam steam room (ladies and gents each have their own, of course) before taking a shower in what feels like a dewy rainfall in the dawn of a summer forest ... again, they've thought of everything: gel and lotion infused with essential oils are provided.
Breathe deep before heading out, a sensory memory: l'Usine's candles bring back memories from the Ritz-Carlton Spa in San Francisco, where Archipelago's Havana wafts through the air, filling the room with notes of rich bergamot, delicate ylang-ylang and musk.
Hope you've enjoyed the visit, 'cause tomorrow your calves, thighs and arms will surely remind you of all the fun you had! It's okay to wait a few days before going back for seconds ...
L'Usine I 18 rue Quincampoix - 75004 - Paris - France I usineopera.com