By Sharon Mager
Mantra Fit recently expanded, moving just a few suites down to a larger location at 760 Ritchie Highway, Suite W11, behind Café Mezzanotte in Severna Park.
Owner Carleen Birnes emphasized that Mantra Fit isn’t just a gym — it’s a holistic approach to fitness. Sure, visitors will find strength and conditioning machines, a variety of fitness classes and a yoga studio, but there’s much more. Birnes said she wants people to hit “all pillars of health.”
“We’re not just for exercise and burning calories,” she said. “It is really about the whole person. That’s the vision of Mantra Fit.”
At an open house on December 2, the studio gave visitors a sample of what to expect, and it was a lot. Visitors enjoyed Reiki healing treatments, aerial yoga using brightly colored hammocks, and sound bowl meditation. Dry needling, massages and nutrition classes were also available.
One young woman smiled shyly as she had her bare head decoratively painted by local artist Christalene Karaiskakis, who started the program Healing through Body Art, adorning cancer patients’ crowns with professional body paint or natural henna tattoos.
While all of these services — and many others at the open house — will not be at the studio permanently, they’ll be available at designated times or by appointment.
Several fitness classes will be offered, including rowing, Pilates, Barre, ropes, rowing, a boot camp and more. Mantra Fit also provides unique fun spins on various classes to take fitness to a new level, such as “Surfset,” utilizing surfboards for balance, cardio and strength intervals.
Mantra Fit also offers the community a chance to connect with local farms for pasture-raised animals and fresh eggs.
Birnes became a personal trainer in 2012 and began considering how to get started in the fitness industry. She found what she didn’t like, including climbing on the “dreadmill” in front of multiple television screens.
“What I did enjoy were the group fitness classes, when led by a motivational instructor, because I loved being in a community and feeding off each other’s energy,” Birnes said.
She began Mantra Fit in 2012, leading outdoor boot camps at Severna Park Community Center near Woods Church, and in 2015 moved to a studio in Severna Park. She opened a second studio in Nabbs Creek in 2016.
“Our community of members quickly bonded, and everyone loved being in the fresh air,” she said. “Then I decided we needed to get on the water in the summer months, and I became certified in standup paddle. We took our workout to the water, and it was bliss!
“We had three important aspects of health covered: social connection, getting outside in nature, and movement. But clients were still struggling with their weight,” Birnes said. “That’s when I realized I had to dig into food. Once I immersed myself in functional health, I realized that’s it’s not just about calories in and calories out. The quality of calories is more important than quantity. And if your diet consists mostly of high-quality protein (grass-fed beef/pork/pasture eggs), healthy fat (avocado oil/coconut oil/ghee) and nutrient-dense carbs (veggies and fruit), you would not only upgrade your health, you would experience significant fat loss - without obsessing over calories.”
Birnes believes that people are becoming sick from their lifestyles and environment, and she wants to help. “The goal is not to be skinny,” she said. “Our goal is to be strong and healthy, so we feel empowered to live the life of our dreams!”
The studio offers classes for children, youth and adults of all ages. For more information, go to www.mantrafit.com.