Lauren Boggi is sitting in a windowless room that looks like the place where casinos take people who are caught counting cards. It’s deep inside a Center City office building. The walls are bare except for some bilingual posters that read fbi investigates bankruptcy crimes. Philly fitness maven Boggi, dressed in all black, is staring at two large men — stewards of the bankruptcy court — who are trying to figure out just how broke she really is.
A lot of people in the boutique-fitness world have been wondering the same thing. Three days before Christmas, Boggi sent out an email to clients informing them that the bank accounts of her company, Lithe Method, had been frozen and the three Lithe studios — once mentioned in the same breath as SoulCycle by the New York Times — were shuttered. In the months since, Boggi has been her same old enchanted self on social media, posting about Louis Vuitton, chlorophyll milk, and a new subscription-based online fitness company that bears her name. The disconnect between what she owes (north of $650,000 to clients and creditors) and what she projects has left some observers scratching their heads.
Boggi built a posh brand. Lithe was the premiere boutique-fitness fiefdom in Philly, fueled by the relentless positivity of its founder, who’d developed a cardio-cheer-sculpting workout regimen that attracted the who’s who. The wait list for 6 a.m. classes was notoriously long. Women killed themselves to achieve #Varsity status — attending 250 classes in a year, priced at up to $28 a pop. There were Lithe-branded juices, apparel, even vacation getaways. Being part of the community was a status symbol. Read more »