Look, I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t work out like I should … OK, fine—at all. So when one of my editors asked me if I wanted to try The Block BR, Baton Rouge’s new boutique-style fitness studio, I was hesitant. I hadn’t worked out since high school, when I was energized and my knees didn’t make a suspicious sound when I bent down. My lower back was screaming, “No! Don’t do it!” But my ego was saying, “Yeah! Of course I’ll try it out!” So there I was, pulling up my old gym shorts, sliding on a beaten-up T-shirt, and putting my hair into a slicked-back ponytail to ensure that I could see just how bad I was at exercising. I grabbed my water bottle, said a prayer, and was out the door.
Before I arrived, I had reached out to Walker Higgins and Gabby Loubiere Higgins, the husband-and-wife co-owners of The Block BR (and of the coffee shop Brew Ha-Ha here in Baton Rouge), and I started to get excited. They seemed to genuinely care that I got the most out of my workouts and helped calm my nerves.
Gabby and Walker opened the doors of The Block BR on September 11 this year to coincide with the anniversary of the 2004 opening of Brew Ha-Ha. Both businesses are located in the same shopping center on Jefferson Highway. Walker is a lifelong competitive runner and overall athlete who has specialized in personal training for more than 20 years. Gabby is a fitness junkie who loves working out and trying new fitness studios around Baton Rouge. The couple had planned on opening a previous gym until COVID-19 delayed their plans, but once things started to pick back up, they felt it was the right time to open up a new studio in Baton Rouge.
When I first stepped into The Block, I was greeted by Walker, who seemed ecstatic to see me.
“Hey, Caroline!” he said as he walked over to me. “Are you ready to work out? It’s gonna be great! We’re so excited you’re here. Come on over here and we’ll get you all set up with our heart monitor.”
Yep, you read that right. To all their clients, Walker and Gabby provide a heart monitor that tracks your heart rate, oxygen levels and calories burned during your workout. They also include an Evolt 360 body scan and will soon offer V̇O₂ Max metabolic testing that helps clients see their daily calorie expenditure. The point of all of this is to ensure that you can track your progress as time goes on, and for Gabby and Walker to monitor where you stand in your fitness journey, trying to help you better achieve your goals.
“We want every client to feel as though they have a personal trainer that knows their goals and is at their disposal,” says Walker.
Walker proved that promise as I jumped on one of the indoor bikes, asking how I was doing after noticing that my heart rate had gotten a little high.
“I’m totally good, I just haven’t done HIIT in a long time!” I replied, referencing the High Intensity Interval Training exercise we had been doing. Even though I felt fine and could continue doing the workout, it made me feel safer knowing that my health and personal wellbeing were being made a priority while working out.
Walker knew when to push our group and also when to hold back and make sure we weren’t going to hurt ourselves. Plus, having Gabby there with me felt comforting. If you’re a woman, you know just how intimidating it can be to walk into a place you’ve never been before with a bunch of intimidating men around you. Having her and other women there made all the difference in my confidence, and helped me to put all my focus into what I was actually there to do: work out.
No matter if you’re a newbie like me or an old pro, The Block BR offers group workouts for around 8 to 10 people, one-on-one personal training, small group training, athletic coaching and spin cycle classes. All appointments can be booked via the Mindbody app, with all workouts able to be tracked so that you can see your improvement over time.