Its Not Model Thin, Its Model Fit.

December is one of the most important months of the year for me. Not only is it holiday season but it is also when the entire world takes a deep breath and watches the 45 minute commercial that is the Victoria’s Secret fashion show. It seems every year the shows get more elaborate and the models get more gorgeous and fitter. There have always been a million myths about what these girls do to get runway ready. However, the common denominator I found among the most prominent angels was that all of them had trained with Justin Gelband at some point in their careers. So when he opened a gym for common mortals like me I simply had to go and see what kind of magic he was teaching these girls.

modelfitModelfit is a small, gorgeous fitness studio located in The Bowery. The space used to be Terry Richardson’s old studio so you could say the place was destined to always be a model hangout. It has plenty of natural light, hardwood floors and even some art by Baron Von Fancy. Also, I don’t know what kind of candles they are burning in there but the studio always smells delicious, which is kind of an oxymoron considering this is a gym. The place a very spacious locker room which SURPRISE! is only for girls. In it there are lockers, fully stocked showers and even a vanity area with all sorts of hair and face products.

modelfit4Now I was definitely expecting a very luxurious gym but what really surprised me was the workout itself. You see I went prepared for a workout along the line of Barry’s Bootcamp but when I got there the workout consisted of doing really tiny movements with two pound weights and resistance bands that were not even that tight. After my first session I was super skeptical about what I had just done and thought that maybe Gelband was playing some sort of trick on us. I mean, I didn’t even come close to breaking a sweat during the class. I didn’t see how this workout was worth it but I had bought a five pack of classes and figured I might as well use it.

modelfitI took class every other day during a 10 day period and to my surprise I started seeing some real results. Out of all the things that have blown my mind during my stay in New York Modelfit would be something I would place high on the list. When I asked Steve Pasterino, who is another trainer who works there, what the secret magic to making these super easy moves produce such great results was, his answer was simple: When you do tiny and precise movements you can focus more on your form and therefore do them more accurately than when you are speeding through a workout.

During the time that I took class there Gelband did not repeat a single sequence. I took Modelfit Sculpt (they offer other classes like Modelfit Boxing, Modelfit dance cardio and Modelfit Yoga) every single time and each class was completely different. Not only that, but Gelband actually paid attention to everyone in the class and came up to the clients and corrected their postures when they were doing the exercises wrong. You would think that a guy who trains models all day wouldn’t care about a bunch of randos who take his class but he actually remembered me after only a few sessions and even commented on the fact that I am always trying to “speed through the workouts.” Yes the class may be less intense than a session at SoulCyle, but the results speak for themselves.

The painting by Baron Von Fancy that I mentioned before.

The painting by Baron Von Fancy that I mentioned before.

Model Boxing.

gotham gym 2

I have been following Gotham Gym on instagram for about two years now and have always been curious as to why so many models train there. In my mind I imagined this pristine, super high-end gym with vanity lighting, spa amenities and a very intimidating “you can’t sit with us” vibe. I mean this place is where Victoria’s Secret model’s get runway ready, there must be a huge luxury component to it, right?

To my surprise when I arrived there I encountered a small gym tucked away in the West Village with nothing too glitzy or glamorous about it. If you don’t know about it you can probably walk by it and not even notice it. Except you will thanks to the amount of models and celebrities who hang out there. The space consists of a Boxing ring which is probably the gym’s main attraction, weight area, small group fitness studio and a few cardio machines. No amenities like locker rooms or juice bars. What I really loved about the space is the fact that it has so much natural light, which is something very rare in New York especially at a gym.

Gotham gym

I went there for a one on one personal training session and was very close to dying at certain points but the adrenalin rush kept me alive (so poetic I know.) I will definitely have to try and review a group class very soon. The gym is membership based and classes are included in your monthly membership, personal training is not. However you can pay for a drop in class and the studio is also included in Classpass.

After trying this gym I have to say I was really happy with my training session which consisted mostly of boxing. Boxing is a great workout for the body and for the mind. It’s a mix of cardio, weight training, flexibility and agility. There is no other workout that encompasses so many elements, which is probably why so many models have made it their workout of choice. Now I still don’t know why so many celebrities flock to this particular studio but my guess would be that the main reason is because Hugh Jackman and The Dog Pound work out there. The other reasons I can think of is that Gotham is located in a very quiet corner of a very quiet neighborhood and unlike most boxing studios this one doesn’t stink, it actually smells great!

Gotham gym 3

The only downside I saw is that they don’t have a real locker room with a changing area, what they have is a room with old wooden lockers and you have to bring your own lock. This would make my gym to office transition very complicated since you sweat buckets when you box and they have no showers! Other than that this gym deserves an A plus and I will definitely be back to see if I run into Gigi Hadid throw some more punches.

Tuck And Squeeze, Tuck And Squeeze And Other Things You’ll Do At Physique57.

When I first decided to lose my boutique fitness studio v-card Physique57 seemed like the obvious choice to me.  Physique57 is a super fast paced barre class based on the Lotte Berk training method ballet dancers use to get into shape. It became really popular among the fashion crowd for its delicate moves and speedy results. Kelly Rippa and a bunch of models rave about it, the reviews said that your blowout would likely remain intact and they have a studio on 57th street (hence the name) which is 7 blocks away from my former office at Time inc. It just seemed like a no brainer to me.

physique57

When I walked into my first class at their Soho location I was automatically seduced by how great it smelled, how peaceful the blue and white color combo felt and how ridiculously hot and beautiful all the women who were going to take class with me were. But boy was I unprepared for what was about to go down in that class. The workout consists in doing isolated ballet and Pilates inspired movements to the point of exhaustion to achieve maximum results. While the movements are very small and delicate your legs will definitely quiver with exhaustion during and after the workout.You also have to wear grippy socks in order to not slip on the blue carpet, making it feel more like a ballet lesson than a trip to the gym.

After trying it for the first time I didn’t really think that I was going to achieve huge results since the class has a very low cardio component which consists on a 60 second set of thigh dancing. However I had bought an introductory two week deal on Gilt and figured I might as well use it. That is when I understood why this workout has such a big following. I have always worked out a lot and when I started doing Physique I had actually been working out with a trainer for a few months so I was in pretty good shape but after just 10 physique classes I had visible muscles everywhere including the defined abs I had always wanted but had never managed to get. This led to me buying  the one month newcomer special which was followed by the three month unlimited contract. As of now I have officially taken 162 physique classes and there are definitely many more classes to come in my future.

I rarely include myself in the blog but I think for this post I can make an exception.

I rarely include myself in the blog but I think for this post I can make an exception.

One of the best things about Physique is there are multiple options for classes – both in terms of levels (Beginner, Mixed, Intermediate, Advanced) and types (stretch, yoga, cardio, armed & fab in 30, mat, formula). So if you are newcomer you don’t have to go through the intimidation of having a 50 something year old woman with a better body than yours at 24 pulsing right next to you at the barre. They have a first class special where you buy your first class  and you get the second one for free which is pretty awesome considering each class costs $36. The locker rooms are great, fully stocked with showers, hair dryers, super fluffy towels, deodorants, body lotion. Basically the only thing you have to take is a change of clothing and your make up because the locker rooms at Physique supply you with everything you need. For me this was one of the things that kept me constant, since it made my gym to office transition really convenient.

If you are a person who finds it hard to get motivated to go to the gym have no fear! Physique has invented a system for you to get over this. You see at Physique you do have to book your classes in advance and are charged a cancellation fee if you don’t go. I highly advise to book you class well in advanced since this workout is so popular and has such a big following most times its hard to find a spot at peak hours even when you try signing up a week ahead of class. Think: Strict cancellation policy + High cancellation fee + Cost of the class = Me never skipping a class and toning muscles I didn’t even know I had. The best part is that I actually look forward to these classes every time I sign up for them.

The  entrance to the Soho studio.

The entrance to the Soho studio.

However after rambling on and on about the workout I have to admit that what sets Physique apart from other barre workouts (other than getting a free apple on the way out) are the instructors. They are incredibly friendly, they are always looking to motivate you and they pay a lot of attention to everyone in the class. Since I was a regular the instructors were always helping me tailor the workout to my specific needs. Although I think all of the instructors at Physique are great I do have a strong preference towards Lauren E and Emily Z. However my absolute favorite Physique instructor is Sherri Norige. Not only is she super upbeat and positive but she makes an effort to remember everyone in the class regardless of how many times you have taken her. Don’t be fooled by the niceness though, she will THOROUGHLY kick your ass and you will not be able to hate her for it.

Even though I have been going for over a year my body is still making progress. Physique is the type of workout where if you go enough times you will get very good at it, however Physique57 will NEVER feel easy. Yes, it is very expensive.  But you get what you pay for, which are RESULTS.

Boutique Fitness.

I have been going to gyms and working out consistently since I was 14 years old. This means that fitness has been a part of my life for over 10 years. Since I have moved around so many cities in the past years one could say that I have become really savvy at finding a new gym and fitness routine to incorporate into my new lifestyle. When I moved to New York for me the obvious thing to do was join Equinox since it is a large fitness chain that has locations all over Manhattan and it offers a really wide variety of group fitness classes as well as top-notch personal training and locker room with amenities that could put a lot of hotels to shame.

equinox

However in my first few months in New York I noticed something that really sparked my curiosity: Small specialized studios that offer the same type of classes as large gyms (think Spinning, Barre, Yoga) but at a much higher price and sometimes in a single location. I discovered this when one of my really close friends told me that she was going to ditch her gym membership because she would rather do Soul Cycle. To me this seemed really bizarre, I mean why would she ditch her gym membership that includes multiple classes that range through a variety of disciplines for a smaller, more expensive studio that only offered one class? So I decided to investigate.

SoulCycle-detail

After a year and four months of trying around 40 boutique fitness classes here are my conclusions: Usually when people have a gym membership they are loyal to only one or two classes and only take class when they are available. At a boutique fitness studio you can take the class you like every day of the week and it is offered multiple times a day so you don’t have to adapt your schedule around it. Boutique fitness studios are small, therefore they provide a community feeling that a large gym does not. At a boutique fitness studio the classes allow a limited number of people so the instructor is more likely to remember you and give you pointers on how to tailor the workout to your specific needs. Since most of these classes need to be pre booked, pre-paid and have high cancellation fees, you are less likely to skip a workout than if you are a member at a gym where the classes are included and you feel that they are “free.” At boutique fitness studios they really pay attention to the client experience. This means that most of them have a nice and welcoming waiting area, friendly front desk staff who remember you and locker room amenities that are comparable or superior to the ones at Equinox.

physique57

Of course boutique fitness classes are expensive, but they also keep you more honest. The pay as you go model makes you really evaluate how often you want to work out and what is a realistic plan that works for you. It also makes you more likely to pick an activity you really enjoy and look forward to, which is the whole point of working out anyways!

Reviews of my favorite boutique fitness studios coming soon!