By Leanne Shear
Uplift Studios is all about strong women. We advocate lifting heavy weights, but what we’ve created extends far beyond the physical — it’s vital for women to be strong mentally, emotionally, and socially, as well. Our studio is a place where women can come to workout, socialize, and hear incredibly talented and accomplished speakers and authors on all aspects of life, love, fashion, business, and wellness. There truly is something for everyone… provided she is a woman!
We’re pretty unique, if we do say so ourselves. Uplift offers three amazing classes — Uplifting-HIIT, Uplifting-Sculpt Fusion, and Uplifting-Strength — and has an incredible personal training and bridal prep program. We also host in-studio events, such as the recent “Uplift Your Career” and “Uplift Your Nutrition” panel series, and plenty of out-of-studio hikes, trips, and retreats.
Here’s how building Uplift came about: Co-founder Leanne Shear was a writer in her previous life, and started doing some fitness training and running coaching on the side. In a surprising turn of events, an editor for whom she regularly wrote decided to write ABOUT Leanne as a trainer (for the sadly now-defunct Daily Candy). Overnight, Leanne had thousands of women interested in working out with her. Co-founder Helena Cawley reached out to Leanne (they’d gone to Penn together back in the day but hadn’t seen each other in about ten years) to discuss changing careers — she was ready to move away from the grind of being a corporate lawyer and into the empowering world of fitness, and they started collaborating on the seeds of Uplift. Similarly, Co-founder Katie Currie had reached out to Leanne to train with her; Leanne sensed the perfect partnership and quickly drew Katie into the fold. The Uplift trifecta was born.
People often ask why we chose to cater to an all-women clientele, and our answer is that we wanted to level the playing field a bit: men always have opportunities to work out or play a sport and then get together with other men, networking, socializing, and hanging out (think the golf course). Women historically haven’t engaged in that as much, and Uplift set out to change that ratio.
As a result, we are most proud of the community we’ve built around working out. Women who didn’t know each other before coming to Uplift are now workout buddies, business collaborators, and friends.
“Empowerment” is sometimes an over-used word, but is perfectly fitting for what we do at Uplift. Our mission is to help women reach the height of their own personal power. And did I mention we love to have fun? We’ve made sure our environment at Uplift is filled with a genuine sense of community, camaraderie, and lots of laughter!
Our clients can leave the confines of the concrete jungle and join us for retreats. We often donate money and time to non-profit organizations that focus on helping women. And we have begun preparing for the launch of our “Lil’ Fit Sis” fitness mentorship program, matching our clients and young girls as mentors/mentees, because giving back is really important to us, too.
In other words, we carefully develop and curate everything we offer, from the format of our classes, to the careful way we match personal training clients, to inviting the best possible experts to all of our panels and events, to supporting charities with a female-driven mission, so that every client who walks in our door gets the most value she possibly can out of the experience.
And our community continues to grow. Our long-term vision is ambitious, and as powerful as the women who come through our doors! Fitness is and should be a vital part of all of our lives, but it is also a conduit to other things. Uplift helps women become, and stay, strong in all aspects of their lives, and aspires to make them feel —and look! — holistically good.
Leanne Shear, Helena Cawley, and Katie Currie are co-founders of Uplift Studios.
Leanne Shear (pictured far left) is Co-founder, President, and Head Trainer at Uplift. Always an athlete, Leanne played competitive basketball through high school and ran Division I Varsity Cross Country and Track in college. Once she moved to NYC, along with weight training, biking, circuits, yoga and swimming, she became a part of New York Road Runners and started racing and eventually running marathons, with a PR of 3:29.
Before co-founding Uplift, Leanne graduated with honors from the University of Pennsylvania and has a Master’s degree in Women’s Studies and Cultural Politics from New York University. Leanne is also the author of The Perfect Manhattan, published in 2005 and Cocktail Therapy: The Perfect Prescription for Life’s Many Crises, published in 2007. Her writing has also been featured in The Nation, The New York Times, New York Magazine, Glamour, Life & Style, Maxim, and Men’s Health.