The Cult of Lithe Method: Going Beyond the Exercise Mat With Lauren Boggi

Ex-cheerleader Lauren Boggi crafted Lithe Method—her crazy program mixing dance, Pilates, yoga, and weight training—into Philly's most addictive exercise cult. But can she take Manhattan?

With Lithe scheduled to bow in Manhattan this summer, it’s too soon to tell whether Boggi’s success in Philly will translate. It seems likely, though, considering the many separation-anxiety-suffering Lithe expats in New York and all the buzz the program has received, from Vogue to Shape to the New York Times. While Boggi downplays her business acumen, she’s shrewd enough to consider future Lithe outposts in cities like Dallas—a competitive cheerleading hotbed—along with other ideas. “I definitely want to productize the workout,” she says, sounding more like a judge on Shark Tank than a fitness guru. “DVDs. Online streaming. Maybe someone can go online and have this whole community at their fingertips. That’s going to bring us to a whole new level.”

On the surface, it seems ridiculous that sweatsuit-loving Philadelphia could be the perfect Petri dish for a fitness brand. But Lithe’s potential is vast. The trend in fitness is moving toward one-stop boutiques serving up a variety of workouts, and Lithe offers something for women who are serious about shaping up and willing to pay a premium to do it. If you’re looking for community, you’ll find it. If you want your cardio and muscle-toning in one class, you’ve got it. And as my sore thighs, glutes and lats can attest, if you want results, you’ll feel them.

Boggi’s confidence in what she’s created both trickles down to and is inspired by her acolytes. “Discovering Lithe was completely life-changing for me,” says Ferzola. “I started feeling like the best version of myself.” A powerful testimonial—one that might not be possible if the woman pushing Lithe as a lifestyle wasn’t living it as well. “Why it’s a cult, why she’s a rock star—it’s because of her personality,” says Goldenberg. “She has a passion. People can feel the brand through the workout. She really gives a shit.”

Despite her confidence, Boggi admits the thought of franchising Lithe scares her. The further she expands, the more diluted her enormous influence on the product becomes. “I think it can be done,” she says. “Maybe I’m not ready. I love it. I don’t know what else I would do.” When talk turns to her Flatiron invasion, though, Boggi has no doubt her Philadelphia fitness experiment can be replicated and will spread, like a virus that sends women into uncontrollable stiletto poses, booty slaps and cellulite-burning lunges. “Just wait, just wait,” she says, her saucer blue eyes opening even wider, looking both at me and through me, to the future. “It’s gonna be huge. People are gonna be obsessed.”