Technology meets boutique fitness studio

TotalFusion Studios in Harrison is the epitome of a new-age fitness experience.

It’s one of the few studios in the country, according to Hana Rukaj – one of its five partners – which incorporates technology into its cycling workouts through means of a virtual world, known as Spivi.

“It’s sort of like being inside of a video game,” says Alex Bayer, another of the studio’s partners. “It’s a beautiful visual. You kind of get lost in it sometimes.”

Spivi enables cyclers to create a personal avatar and essentially watch themselves – via television screens – navigate through environments of the instructor’s choosing. Meanwhile, the program tracks cyclers’ performance over time, from their calories burned to their distance and RPM, which earn them points in the online community.

In order to tap into Spivi, cyclers are required to wear a program-compatible heart monitor, which is supplied to beginners.

WAG was treated to a Cy-Co class, which combines a 30-minute cycle session with 20 minutes of core exercise. As a newcomer to this program, I was satisfied with how Spivi influenced the cycling portion of the workout. If I saw my avatar lagging behind the group, I was instantly motivated to catch up and keep pace. And without this visual guide, I would have never known my performance relative to the other cyclers.

The virtual world, reminiscent of a video game – as Bayer suggested – was also aesthetically pleasant. There we were, a group of cyclers, swiftly bicycling through the windy roads of a grey city, as snow lightly dusted our path. But luckily for us, we needn’t worry about falling.

After breaking a sweat during the first 30 minutes, we headed into the studio for 20 minutes of core exercise. The instructor led with planks – one of my most challenging core workouts – and followed with a series of exercises to target the upper, middle and lower abdomen and the ever-problematic love handles, and ended with simple stretching.

“In the future, we’ll be introducing (Spivi) to our fitness studio as well,” says Rukaj.

The meshing of the two workouts is part of the studio’s signature “Fusionology” concept. Each TotalFusion class “fuses” together different workouts, so as to circumvent repetitive motion and optimize the experience. Such a class combination includes Piloxing Barre, which incorporates elements of Pilates, boxing and Barre.

“We call ourselves ‘the better workout,’” says Bayer. “We want to give you a little bit of everything.”

Bayer explains that a cardiologist and an anesthesiologist/pain management doctor founded the studio, which opened in April 2016. Their philosophy was that optimal results followed when distinct workouts were incorporated into a particular time block – such as combining cycling with yoga in a 50-minute period – because it offers a greater range of motion.

But the thought is also “to make exercise fun,” says Bayer.

TotalFusion Rhythm, another class, offers 60 minutes of dance-inspired movement. Clients are equipped with drumsticks to “move to the beat,” which actually helps with toning, Bayer says.

But the TotalFusion experience doesn’t end when the workout is over. The boutique studio offers luxury service immediately following class completion.

After Cy-Co ended, we were treated to sips of protein shakes and small bites, along with a eucalyptus-scented, warm hand towel. Rukaj handed me a package of delicious, vegetable- and fruit-infused gummies, and my fellow cyclers nibbled on cheese, crackers and grapes.

And if that wasn’t enough, the studio offers merchandise, as well, all of which are handmade or sold by their personal trainers. This included Peace Love N Crossbones, jewelry designed by Donnamarie Del Signore, Rodan + Fields skincare products and various protein shakes, bars and snacks.

TotalFusion offers a 20 percent discount for students and a 15 percent discount for military, first responders and teachers, as well as a kids and teens program for ages 7 and up. Each month, the studio also holds a free nutritional lecture, covering topics that range from post-workout foods to heart health, back-to-school food preparation for the family and nutrition management during the holiday season.

For more on TotalFusion Studios, at 347 Halstead Ave. in Harrison, call 914-315-1360 or visit

– Danielle Renda


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