This article is part of a series by Mpls.St.Paul Magazine celebrating MOA’s 30th birthday. Join us as we ride through some of our favorite memories of the last 30 years.
The early ‘90s saw its share of leg warmers, step classes, ThighMasters, and Tae Bo. Fitness found its way into our lives through VHS tapes, infomercials, and some pretty sweet neon garb. So when Mall of America opened in 1992, it only made sense that some of the stores would outfit the jazzercise crowd in the hippest of fashions.
Two of the Mall’s original fitness-focused tenants have evolved with our sweaty selves from baby tees, spandex, and high tops to track suits, wind pants, and low tops—only to recycle the ‘90s trend of crop tops, biker shorts, and sneaks in recent years. Athletic shoe superstar FootLocker—home to Jordans, Converse, and Vans (oh my!)—is still kicking, as is athletic apparel store Champs. And while these classics have withstood the test of time and 30 years of fashion trends, a whole slew of other fitness-inspired stores have joined the Mall’s roster. From mall staples to forward-thinking brands, MOA is the spot to stop if you want to get moving.
Peloton, the cult-like at-home fitness brand, opened its first Minnesota location in 2017 and upgraded to a 2,400-square-foot space in 2019. The newer storefront allows prospective and current Peloton worshippers a chance to take a test class on the bike or tread and send out digital high fives. While the coveted “P” apparel is available at the boutique, most shoppers visit the space with the hope of getting a taste of the Peloton experience.
Devotees of the well-known Lululemon brand were over-the-moon when the company opened an “experiential” store in 2019 at Mall of America. The 19,700-square-foot concept store blends shopping, fitness, apparel, and dining into one well-rounded locale, upping the framework ante on fitness boutiques around the country. Visitors come for the brand’s iconic array of stretchy and stylish workout apparel, but are hooked by the fitness studio, meditation room, and fuel bar.
As the overarching approach to health and fitness continues to expand beyond exercise, so has the Mall’s approach to wellness. An initiative called LiveWell is MOA’s own health and wellness program that offers guests opportunities to get strong, nutritious, inspired, and active. By combining community classes, a smart dining guide, and a mall-walking program, MOA continues to make good on its mission to go beyond the traditional mold of a shopping mall. Let’s look closer at the three foundational tenets of LiveWell and how the Mall uses each to make it a not just a stop for sneakers and sports bras, but a true wellness destination.
MallStars are a group of dedicated mall walkers who are looking to up their strut. In partnership with M Health Fairview, the Mall has designated a one mile, a 5K, and a 10K walking path around the concourse. The program is like a real-life fitness tracker, offering a scan-card technology that tracks and records the amount of time you spend walking at the Mall and generating monthly reports. It also offers monthly meetings with educational speakers, discounts at various stores, and a perfect 72-degree environment, 364 days a year. MOA even opens its doors early so mall walkers don’t have to face the shopping frenzy that ensues once the stores open.
Group fitness has always been a welcome addition to the Mall’s fitness roster. In addition to the many walks that are hosted in partnership with charity organizations, the Mall also holds several exercise demonstrations and classes to help guests find their fitness swagger.
MOA hosted an all-day yoga event in the rotunda, where dozens of yoga studios and other yoga programs put together a record breaking, complimentary event. Wellness brands like Athleta, Fabletics, and GNC—all stores found within the Mall—were on-hand to inspire visitors to focus on making healthier choices.
It took a long time for fast food and health food to be simpatico, but times, they are-a-changing. Now MOA offers a bevy of delicious places to eat that also have smart options. Check out the Mall’s Smart Dining Guide for a list of restaurants and what picks are healthiest for you. From vegetarian and vegan choices to gluten free and meals under 500 calories, there’s a little taste of goodness for everyone.
Speaking of celebrity fitness stars from the ‘90s, who remembers when Cindy Crawford visited Mall of America in 1996 to promote her book “Cindy Crawford’s Basic Face?” Pair that instructional manual with a Buns of Steel VHS and you’ll look, feel, and sound, like, totally ‘90s.