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Imax putting new spin on fitness

I pedaled through snow-capped mountains first, just to get warmed up. Then I moved effortlessly over a still blue sea. Until the tunnel. That's when it went techno. Streaming lines, thumping rhythms, all blending (well, not really blending) with the blaring encouragement of a top fitness trainer in a tiny sport top.

This is Imax. You get the movie experience, but you have to work for it. In an old Brooklyn warehouse under the Manhattan Bridge, Imax is testing the waters in fitness. Fifty spin cycles sit on five levels in front of a 40-by-24-foot screen. It's like a movie theater, only without the comfy chairs and definitely without the salty popcorn.

IMAX spin class
Stephanie Dhue | CNBC

"Imax is always looking for opportunities to take the brand, the technology and, frankly, the focus on larger-than-life experiences to different places," said Bryan Marcovici, CEO of Imaxshift. "With fitness, you have a market where people are migrating from big-box gyms to more boutique personal engaging experiences. We have an opportunity to accelerate that trend."

The classes are competitively priced at $34 each. Monthly packages run about $350.

"That's pretty low for New York standards," said Joseph Beavers, who took the inaugural 6:30 a.m. class Thursday.

As for the experience, he called it "extremely stimulating, like a journey."

Fellow millennial Kelly Welsh sweated it out next to Beavers, calling the visuals "awesome."


She admitted though that this might not be a regular option for her. More an entertainment destination.

"I think for me it's something I would take friends or clients to. Something different than your regular routine," added Walsh.

Imax's reach is large, especially internationally. For the $1.7 billion dollar company, this is just a small investment. A "toe in" the fitness water to see if it works, admitted Marcovici.

"The plan here is to understand the pilot concept. Does it drive that next great fitness movement?"

If it does catch on in New York, where the boutique fitness industry is taking over entire neighborhoods, the idea is to roll it out "aggressively" in other cities and countries. And it may not be just spinning. What about running through the jungle or skiing across the Himalayas? They've already thought of that.