BodyGear opened its doors in April 1988 as a women's aerobics store. It was the first fitness specialty store in New York, offering apparel, sneakers, weights, mats and other necessary fitness gear and accessories, all under one roof. Founder Mary Ellen Sprague, a certified aerobics instructor for nearly twenty years, says it was her love of fitness that sparked the store's original concept. BodyGear soon added apparel and gear for numerous other types of fitness, including running, walking, cycling, swimming and tennis, and, in 1991, Mary Ellen was nominated by her bank, Tompkins Trust Company, for "New York State Small Business Person of the Year."
BodyGear began offering children's leotards and tights in 1990, due both to customer requests and to Mary Ellen's 6-year-old daughter, Samantha, who was now in ballet classes. The store next added adult dancewear to its product line. Mary Ellen was Capezio-trained in the precise art of fitting dance shoes, particularly pointe shoes, in 1993, and BodyGear became an official Capezio dealer. With this, BodyGear completed its transformation from a fitness store into a dance store, and has been considered the premier dance boutique of Central New York ever since.
BodyGear offers a truly expansive line of dancewear, dance shoes and dance gear, with everything you need for ballet, pointe, tap, jazz, lyrical, hip hop, ballroom, Latin, Liturgical and even bellydance. You'll also find items for yoga, Pilates, gymnastics, Irish dance, cheer and skate. There's a beautiful array of books, cards, music, posters, calendars and wonderfully-unique gifts, plus we're famous for our Nutcracker collection and our adorable children's department.
In the fall of 2004, BodyGear moved to its current location on the beautiful Ithaca Commons, in downtown Ithaca, NY. This move marked the store's first expansion, nearly doubling its size. One of the many features in the new space is the shoe fitting area. Complete with a wood floor, mirrored wall and a ballet barre, it's the perfect place to try out new dance shoes. BodyGear's walls are lined with colorful posters from the many dance concerts Mary Ellen's enjoyed over the years, along with gorgeous photos, historical dance memorabilia, colorful tutus, and dozens of Samantha's old pointe shoes.
Mary Ellen has long been considered a Master Fitter by the dance community, and her customers regularly travel from a 90-mile radius and
beyond to buy their dance shoes and supplies at BodyGear. One of the most rewarding aspects of her
- Hip Hop
- Belly Dance