October 28, 2013
By Ingrid Skjong | Fitness

Fitness Find: Technogym Wellness Ball

Just when you thought the gym couldn’t get any more high-tech, one of the simplest workout staples has been reimagined: Thanks to Italian wellness company Technogym’s Wellness Ball, the inflatable exercise ball has been upgraded and updated.

The ball is constructed in two different densities, with the lower half heavier than the upper region, giving users more control and turning it into its own weight of sorts. A convenient tab even makes it simple to carry. (Trainer Josh Holland suggests using it as an oversized kettlebell.)

You can access an included QR code for video training programs and a website filled with tips. And though the souped-up model is an improvement on the standard—whether used during workouts for push-ups, planks and other moves or as an alternative seat during the day—you’re still responsible for the ultimate outcomes.

“Just because you are sitting on the ball during the day doesn’t mean you are going to get a six-pack overnight,” says Holland. “It offers an opportunity to make you stronger, but it is really up to the individual to make a difference.” The Wellness Ball is available in 21- and 25-inch sizes, $225 each; 70 Greene St.; 646-578-8001;

August 07, 2013
By Ingrid Skjong | Fitness

Two Must-Try Workouts
Courtesy of Chaise Fitness

No two bodies—or fitness goals—are the same. These two workouts, rooted in disparate core philosophies, keep their devotees focused, inspired and ready for the next challenge.

The Basics:
The Reinvention Method—the brainchild of Chaise Fitness founder Lauren Piskin, a Pilates pro and former competitive figure skater, and her daughter, Rachel Piskin (pictured above), a former New York City Ballet dancer—is a mash-up of Pilates, ballet and aerobic training. The workout centers on a fitness chair, which is a take on the Pilates Wunda Chair, and suspended bungee cords that add resistance to the various movements.

What to Expect: You’ll spend the better part of the 55-minute class on the fitness chair, making use of its large resistance pedal and the overhead cords. Striking the correct balance on said chair takes a bit of doing, but the instructor will guide you into alignment if needed during moves that work the core and the entire body (wide plié squats with arm pulses and variations on the Pilates teaser, for example.) The music is upbeat, and active recovery periods keep things moving.

Best For: Those eager for an alternative to traditional barre classes but still want to feel taller, leaner and stronger. 40 E. 23rd St., Third Fl.; 212-432-6100;

The Basics:
High-intensity training (HIT) involves short bursts of activity—counterbalanced with brief rest periods—designed to challenge and fatigue the body. The Fhitting Room is based on this philosophy, using a variety of full-body exercises that encompass functional movements, strength training and intense intervals. “To see results, you must push yourself out of your comfort zone,” says head instructor Eric Salvador. “You must go all out.” Stay focused and positive (two of Salvador’s favorite mindsets) and those results—increased strength, decreased body fat, improved endurance and range of motion—can begin to appear in eight to 12 weeks.

What to Expect: Loafing is not an option. Two instructors man most of the 50-minute sessions, which are kept to a 12-person maximum. The studio is slick and spare, with a slightly springy floor (a good thing). Salvador and his team employ compound movements and circuits to work multiple muscles; nearly every workout is different. Our session involved stints on the rowing machine, squats with a kettle bell, standing diagonal chops with a medicine ball, push-ups, box jumps, more squats…you get the idea. The instructors keep things on track and monitor form, but the atmosphere is light and convivial.

Best For: Those who love breathless, challenging circuits that hurt in the best possible way. 1166 Lexington Ave.; 212-772-1166;


June 19, 2013
By Ingrid Skjong | Fitness

The Nantucket Yoga Festival
Courtesy of Nantucket Yoga Festival

With upwards of 20 million Americans practicing yoga these days, downward dog and child’s pose have arguably never been more popular. People of all levels and intentions throw themselves into the practice, and large-scale yogic get-togethers are bigger than ever. But the Nantucket Yoga Festival (July 12–14) may just be one of the hottest tickets around.

“While there are many yoga festivals, there is only one Nantucket,” says Joann Burnham, festival founder and director of Dharma Yoga Nantucket. “The island has a unique vibration that has consistently inspired conscious living, creative collaboration and the independent spirit.”

In other words, the perfect backdrop for a weekend built around yoga. Classes will be held under a tent at Bartlett’s Ocean View Farm, the oldest family-owned farm on the island, surrounded by 100 acres of land and those eponymous vistas. More than 20 renowned yoga teachers are scheduled to appear, including master instructor Sri Dharma Mittra, founder of Dharma Yoga Center New York, and Sadie Nardini (pictured here), known for her edgier approach and a TV show, Rock Your Yoga, on the health-and-wellness channel Veria.

Complimentary community classes by local instructors will also be available (all levels welcome), and other activities include a spirited opening-night celebration, a farm-to-table dinner on Saturday night and plenty of opportunities to experience yoga’s widespread appeal.

“People are searching for peace, for happiness, for a little slice of calm,” says Burnham. “A complete yoga practice can offer refuge from the fast pace and stress that exists in the world today. People simply begin to feel better.” July 12–14; festival pass, $350; one-day pass, $175;

April 03, 2013
By Ingrid Skjong | Fitness

Aerospace System of Sleek
Courtesy of Aerospace

A workout that excites the brain as much as the body is a rare find, which is why System of Sleek—a new class at New York's Aerospace High Performance Center—is destined to be a favorite.

The brainchild of Aerospace founder Michael Olajide Jr., a former middleweight boxing champion, the three-month-old, four-part series comes at the body from all angles. Aerosculpt hones in on abs; Aerojump cranks up cardio with jump roping; Aerobox lets blistering-fast punch combinations fly; and Aerowheels works the legs.

Olajide, who whips the likes of models Doutzen Kroes and Adriana Lima (pictured above) into shape, pushes each portion of the class to its maximum, stressing power, endurance, speed, coordination and, perhaps most important, focus.

“You walk before you run, jump before you fly,” he says. “It’s like the evolutionary process of anything. You do it in increments and you must show a lot of patience with yourself, because you are learning a real skill that will benefit you for a lifetime.”

The classes leave little time to think about how challenging it all is. Jumping rope, a fat-burning front-runner, is nearly hypnotic once you get the hang of it; top-speed repetitions of combination punches (Olajide is generous enough to start them off slowly) require concentration, delivering exhausted—though ultra-toned—muscles by the end.

A System of Sleek four-DVD set features seven similar workouts, some as short as ten minutes, that can be done anywhere, with or without a jump rope or hand weights. The moves get results, making the drive to get fit—even at home or in a hotel room—as strong as it is in the studio.

“If you are doing something cool and fun that can really do what it’s advertised to do,” Olajide says, “then that’s pretty motivating.” At 336 W. 13th St.; 212-929-1688;

November 13, 2012
By Deborah Frank | Fitness

Blake Brody Flats
© James T. Murray.

New footwear for Pilates and beyond, and a gym-worthy shampoo.

Want an alternative to going barefoot during yoga or Pilates? Blake Brody in-studio footwear functions as a second skin, with no-slip soles and odor-resistant lining. Bonus: We love them as in-flight flats. From $100;

We threw a bottle of Phytokératine in our gym bag and now use it daily. It has hyaluronic acid, normally found in skincare products, to hydrate damaged hair. $25;

November 29, 2011
By Joshua David Stein | Fitness

medicine ball
Courtesy Lineaus Athletic Company

Lineaus Hooper Lorette, 66, a gay Communist accountant, makes $425 custom medicine
balls from his workshop in Marfa, Texas. Using full-grained leather from a Wisconsin
tannery and the same tannage as a baseball glove, he can turn out two balls
a day, filling them with soft-cotton thread. “It’s amazing how heavy
a ball full of cotton can be,” says Lorette, who likes its cooperative
nature. “You need someone to catch it and return it.” And as for
a Communist creating a decidedly elitist medicine ball? “The proletariat
is working,” says Lorette. “They don’t have to exercise.”
A ten-inch medicine ball from the Lineaus Athletic Company costs $425; a
16-inch is $800;

January 31, 2011
By Dispatch Departures | Lifestyle, Fitness


Since the 2006 opening of its first location on Manhattan's Upper West Side, SoulCycle has gained an impressive following obsessed with its high-intensity, full-body bike workout. Cofounders Elizabeth Butler and Julie Rice have built their company at an equally energetic rate over the past five years with two more NYC openings, outposts in Bridgehampton and Scarsdale and a pop-up location at the Mondrian hotel in Miami. SoulCycle's seventh location—a two-story, 60-bike studio with full-service locker rooms and a sleek in-house boutique carrying private labels and SoulCycle's own clothing line—opened in Union Square in early February. Its signature 45-minute candlelit SoulCycle workout, which combines spinning, hand weights and a mentally challenging course, and the much-raved-about Bands class, a 60-minute ride that tones the upper body and the core using resistance bands suspended from the ceiling, are both on offer. At 12 E. 18th St.; 212-208-1300;

Photo courtesy SoulCycle