I’ve been inside Riovana a number of times in the weeks since its soft opening, even getting a drink of free cold water on one of my long run nights in BHS. Last week though, some bloggers and I were given a tour of the store and its concept, plus a sneak peek at a very special section in the store.
Riovana isn’t just a specialty shop with running shoes, clothes, and gear, although it carries most brands preferred by runners. It isn’t merely a place where you can get your gait analyzed, even though it boasts a three-camera system for a more complete assessment. It’s not just the registration center for major RunRio events, although it is where the new registration system will be rolled out next year. It seeks to transcend all these things, fulfilling its name “Rio” (the founder) + “nirvana” (a state of transcendence).
Coach Rio has been talking about Riovana as a one-stop shop for runners and as his way of sustaining running in the Philippines. Riovana seeks to fill runners’ pre-race, during-race, and post-race needs, and help them improve themselves in their chosen sport. So as you walk into the store you’ll find landmarks of a runner’s journey through the streets.
Most of the store floor area is taken up by the Sole of Running section: racks of clothes, accessories, and a whole wall of shoes! There’s a bronze section for budget and fitness footwear, silver section for trainers, and gold section for race-day performance shoes.
Riovana hopes to be a venue to take runners from silver to gold performance, and they plan to do that with coaching services using technology such as their gait analysis system.
This system has a rear camera to view your pronation, a side camera to view your stride, and a front camera to view posture. Assessing gait from three angles helps correct technique issues (as well as facilitating proper shoe selection), helping you adjust and become a better runner.
Off to the left side of the store is the Sole Searching section. This has rentable lockers and shower and toilet areas. This is also where runners can register for RunRio events beginning next year. What I liked most about this area is the Community Wall, where runners can leave messages for Coach Rio and for each other.
This visit was the first time I’d gone up the stairs to Riovana’s second floor, which houses the Sole Healing section. Now this is the section that differentiates Riovana from other running specialty stores.
This section isn’t open for business yet, but we were given a tour in advance of its soft opening. Basically, it’s a recovery center so that runners can find fast relief from muscle aches which prevent them from getting back on the road after a hard training session or peak performance at a race. It’s like a spa for runners, but more scientific.
We were shown the ultrasound machine used to penetrate deep into tissue to promote faster healing, the therapeutic laser machine for more precise targeting of problem areas, and the cryo machine, which literally freezes your aches and pains away (like a cold compress without the frostbite symptoms). A normal session at Sole Healing would take you through the cubicles containing these machines, concluding with a sports stretch and massage (myofascial release). Acupuncture is also available by appointment, and the sessions are done by medical doctors who have also dedicated years of study to acupuncture.
Sole Healing is only for normal muscle aches associated with running (such as Delayed Onset of Muscle Soreness); they recommend visiting a doctor to diagnose injuries properly. Prescribed therapies, however, could also be conducted at Sole Healing.
I’m excited about a lot of things Riovana has in store (literally). It’s just so cool that a place like this now exists because of the running boom in the country.