Marietta’s Hidden Gym: Inspiration for Exercise and Camaraderie

Lulu Belle Studio (397 N. Sessions St, Marietta 30060), is a hidden “gym” in the heart of historic Marietta. The fitness studio offers small group classes where women build healthier minds and bodies through strength and cardio exercise as well as community. Ladies at Lulu Belle recently celebrated at a Spring Social.

“I have a passion for fitness and I love small intimate groups. I wanted a place where women could come for small groups, small gatherings, small numbers to be encouraged to move their bodies,” said Shelly Thomas who opened Lulu Belle on March 1, 2019. The Marietta resident is married to Roddy Thomas. They have two sons.

Lulu Belle Instructor Becky Simmons, Jennifer Smith, Susan Hedrick, Stacey Mitchell, and owner Shelly Thomas celebrate together

Lulu Belle provides a motivating influence. “Exercise always makes me feel good when I finish. I want to encourage women that (exercise) doesn’t have to be something you dread. I wanted to provide an encouraging atmosphere for exercise for women,” Thomas said.

Joanne Walsh, Janee Gaffney, Rebecca Condon and Katie Capone

Thomas named the studio after the nickname that her mother called her. “Lulu Belle is what my mom called me all my life. I didn’t want (the studio) to have a big gym feel. I wanted it to be unique,” said Thomas who played soccer at the University of Alabama.

Erika Hughes and Kristen Harris

Unique it is. “It is never the same class. It’s dynamic enough where you are constantly challenged and you never leave defeated. You are continually pushed in an encouraging atmosphere,” Thomas said.

Kim Koenig, Susan Jenkins, Jennifer Smith and Nancy Wharton

Community also sets the studio apart. “The community of Lulu Belle is huge. There’s not an element of competition or comparison. Everyone is for each other. It is a team that doesn’t stop with a certain number of players,” Thomas said.

Jennifer Smith, Shelly Thomas, Katie Adkins, Kawana Strong, and Joanne Walsh

Lulu Belle is more than a workout. “The exercise piece is just a symptom. It’s really about the heart of the people who show up that day. The hard that we’re all going through is so different. For 50 minutes, you share in something in the same hard together,” Thomas said.

Kim Koenig, Lulu Belle Instructor Michelle Chamberlain, Rachel Solik, Erika Hughes, Elizabeth Barfield, and Nicole Antolino

“The blessing is truly the relationships. Truly,” Thomas said.

Joanne Walsh, Nicole Antolino and Katie Adkins

A spread for dinner

A beautiful customized Lule Belle cake created by Rachel Solik (

Homemade pizzas

Fruit tower

Yummy lemon fluff desserts

Kevin the Cat overwhelmed with the fun

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