What happens when a long-time, well-respected female bartender gets injured on the job? She falls back on her day job, that of personal trainer and barre instructor, creates an entirely new fitness concept, and opens up her very own studio. While it may sound exhausting to the average person, to Melissa Boyd, founder of the freshly opened, Salt, it’s all about finding balance. “I’ve always been very much into fitness,” explains Boyd, “and then when I blew out my rotator cuff, from the repetitive act of shaking while making cocktails, I became even more passionate about mobility, functional fitness, strengthening joints, and how people cope with injuries.” It was Boyd’s yearning to learn more that drove her to pursue “every certification out there.” Today, the barre-tender is NASM, FMS level 1 and Fit for Birth certified making her an expert in all things exercise.
After years of teaching sold-out barre classes, Boyd was discouraged when clients would come to her and complain that while they had mastered barre, their bodies had yet to change. Since barre isn’t an all-encompassing workout, she recommended that students also supplement regular classes with cardio, which is how the idea for Salt was born. What if she created a mash-up of barre, mobility training, and cardio plus a warm-up, core workout, and glut activation? “It’s 200 percent more effective than a regular barre workout,” Boyd says of the first class type, Barre Fight. The 55-minute signature class consists of flexibility training, high intensity interval training for caloric burn, and isometric strength movements. “A lifetime of competing as an athlete and years teaching barre and group fitness have led me to meld these two complementary practices into one holistic method that is immensely beneficial and effective for training the mind and body,” explains Boyd.
The resulting workout — part cardio kickboxing, part barre — is fusion fitness at its best. At the exact moment that you’re certain you’ll die if you do another knee/front kick/back kick/cross combination, you stop and the workout moves from the center of the room to the barre. Your pulse slows and you find your breath, but the sweat continues to pour as you burn out at the barre with a slow, controlled sequence of squats and deep pliés. When you think you can’t squat any deeper, the class shifts again and it’s time for three minute-long intense cardio routines. Everything flows smoothly into the next set of movements with light, but necessary stretching in between grueling intervals. It’s a great workout that can easily become an addiction.
What also makes Salt so appealing is the beautiful studio itself. If you’re walking down Divisadero Street toward Page and see the neon signage and window front, you could easily mistake it for a restaurant or salon. That’s because the design team who built the interior, Nick Roberto and Colby Thompson of VerSacrum Design, are known for creating many of the city’s most popular new watering holes, like Trick Dog (where Boyd used to tend bar) and Huxley. The reception area is light and airy with ocean-inspired details, driftwood art pieces, dark purple agate tables, and beautiful floral arrangements from a nearby flower shop. The studio is all light and grey wood, with a floor made from reclaimed tennis shoes, sturdy ballet barres, front and side mirrors, and globular light fixtures that look like they belong in a restaurant, but somehow work just as well at a fitness studio. Boyd clearly has an eye for design because nothing is overlooked — everything is perfectly curated and stylized right down to the local products sold in reception to the gold stapler that sits on the front desk.
Over the next few months, Boyd will launch three more class concepts: a circuit-conditioning 60-minute program, another hybrid class that combines classical barre movements with sandbag weight training, and a challenging full-body prenatal workout for pregnant women. Although the studio has only been open for a couple of weeks, there is already a sense of community that is warm and welcoming. Boyd’s team of female instructors are friendly and knowledgeable with long, lean, and enviable bodies. Boyd’s mantra, and the origin of the name Salt, is “the cure for anything is salt water: tears, sweat or the sea.” After sweating it out in a weeks worth of Boyd’s classes, we couldn’t agree more, the Salt workout is a cure. It makes you feel invigorated, alive, and like you can conquer anything — who wouldn’t want to get behind Boyd’s barre and toast to that?