“What does it mean to ‘own your body?’ And where is a safe place to learn how to do so?” asked Brandon Hallock, owner of Sanctuary Bodyworks, Baltimore’s new fitness studio. “It wouldn’t be archaic to call an old sanctuary a safe place, would it? What about a rehabilitated church-turned-fitness studio?”
That’s the premise behind Sanctuary Bodyworks, located in Fells Point in the former St. Stanislaus Church building at 710 S. Ann St.
“What better way to reuse the space than to help bodies now?” he said.
Much of the original architecture—the stained glass windows, 40-foot ceiling, painted interior buttresses, wooden floor—remains in place.
“The architecture is beautiful, and I wanted to respect it,” Hallock said.
One incident points to his success in that. An older man came in one morning, Hallock said, and told him that he used to be an altar boy at St. Stanislaus.
“It looks great. You did a good job,” he told Hallock in a booming voice that echoed in the large space.
Sanctuary Bodyworks is a non-membership studio with a focus on private training.
“There’s never masses of people working out in here without instruction,” Hallock said, adding that though there are group training classes, they don’t disrupt other clients’ sessions.
People interested in general training, yoga, Pilates (with handmade equipment from New York City), and other fitness disciplines will find something to do at Sanctuary. Additionally, Hallock said he is interested in activities that are social and artistic as well as healthy, so hula-hooping, Argentinian Tango dancing, belly dancing, and aerial arts round out the menu.
Hallock said that his clients range in age from mid-20s to 60s. Many work stressful jobs at Johns Hopkins or other high-octane employers. All are welcome, he said.
“My goal is to be able to supply a little bit of everything for people,” Hallock said. “People have different financial situations, and if someone comes through the door, I like to be able to offer them something helpful.”
Hallock, 37, has been in the industry for nearly 20 years, and is an extremely fit guy himself, made apparent by excellent posture and a healthy glow rather than super-sized biceps. He noted that some of the clients currently coming to Sanctuary Bodyworks have been working with him for eight or more years.
Hallock said that he prescribes a softer, more sustainable approach to fitness and health, rather than the “more is better” mindset that often surfaces today.
“I’m spending as much time addressing mobility as functional strength,” he said, adding that he advocates a balance between length and tension in muscular structure, and does not endorse “compressive” (e.g. bodybuilding) training.
A collaborative group of trainers with different focus areas is also key to Sanctuary Bodyworks.
“We utilize like-minded practitioners and everyone’s talents,” said Hallock.
Like most with the drive to start their own business, Hallock is passionate about his line of work.
“You don’t get into this business thinking you’re going to make big money,” he said. “I enjoy the relationships, and I enjoy helping people, whether it’s getting them to feel better about themselves or helping them recover from an injury, they’re going to own more of their own body walking out of our doors than when they walked in.”
by Erik Zygmont