Inside Old Town Scottsdale's Studio 103, Where Club Dance and Fitness Meet

Checking out the disco lights at the new Studio 103 in Scottsdale.EXPAND
Checking out the disco lights at the new Studio 103 in Scottsdale.
Lynn Trimble

When you picture sunrise in Old Town Scottsdale, a double set of flashing disco lights might not come to mind. But that’s what you’ll find at a new fitness studio called Studio 103, where even the 6 a.m. classes blend calorie burning with club-style dance.

Located at 4385 North 75th Street, Studio 103 was started by Nikki Pense. The 28-year-old has lived in Scottsdale, where she’s a banking consultant, for a couple of years. And she’s familiar with the local fitness scene, having taken classes in everything from boxing to yoga.

Pense opened Studio 103, where she has about 750 square feet, on Monday, March 28. The idea to start her own fitness business came just two and a half months earlier while Pense was taking a yoga class at the nearby Funke Yoga studio.

“I was doing Savasana,” Pense says. Also called the corpse pose, it entails lying on your back while practicing total relaxation. Apparently, her mind wasn’t all that relaxed. “I could do this,” she recalls thinking at the time. “I could introduce a new type of fitness of Scottsdale.”

“I wanted to start something fun and healthy and positive,” Pense says. Knowing that Scottsdale has an active club scene and a lot of people into staying fit, she figured a dance-and-fitness studio specializing in club dance would be a great match.

Pense talked with her husband, who was on board. That same day, she went online and found the space that became her studio.

“Once I get an idea in my mind and I’m passionate about it," she says, "it gets me to the core and I can’t shake it.”

From idea to opening, she’s invested about $12,000 – which includes the costs of transforming the space into a dance studio. That meant adding four mirrors that nearly cover an entire wall and blackout curtains, as well as a sound system, speakers, and her prized pair of disco lights.

Nikki Pense, who opened her Studio 103 fitness and dance studio on March 28.EXPAND
Nikki Pense, who opened her Studio 103 fitness and dance studio on March 28.
Lynn Trimble

There’s room for just 12 to 15 people to dance comfortably, she says, so her classes will be small. During the Dance Party class, people do a dance-inspired cardio routine set to strobe lights and beats. The Hip-Hop Party class is a chance to “pop, lock, and drop to flashing lights and fun beats.”

Pense is offering 6 a.m. classes, which she teaches before going into banking consultant mode for the rest of the day. Evening classes at 6 p.m. will be taught by other instructors. Pense lays out all the class, schedule, and cost information online.

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She’s offering a free week of classes right now, and a flex pass that costs $100 for 10 classes. And there’s a third class option, which is High-Intensity Interval Training. There’s no dance in that class, but people still train to club-style music and lighting.

During any given class, the playlist might include Flo Rida, Calvin Harris, or Ellie Goulding. ”It’s mostly remixes and electronic dance music,” Pense says.

Pense does her own choreography for Studio 103 classes, drawing from about a decade of dance experience. “It just comes to me,” she says. Pense started tap dance when she was 8, and also studied ballet, including pointe. During high school, she did hip-hop and was on the dance team.

New Studio 103 located in Old Town Scottsdale.EXPAND
New Studio 103 located in Old Town Scottsdale.
Lynn Trimble

Studio 103 already has a couple of things going for it, including dedicated parking behind the building as well as on-street parking. It’s an easy walk to Fifth Avenue, which is lined with an eclectic mix of shops and galleries. And it’s near a good assortment of eating and drinking establishments.

“Just being in Old Town is the best,” Pense says. “I love all the boutiques and shops, and the energy here is really exciting.”


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