It’s been nearly 6 months since we set up shop on Columbus Avenue and changed the FHITness scene on the Upper West Side! Now that we have settled into our new digs, we thought it was time to share our favorite local restaurants, bakeries, and shops. The next time you plan on HITing it on the UWS, check out this guide to know where to fuel up before class and indulge after.
The Upper West Side is full of top-notch dining options. FHIXers looking to get their greens on the fly can hit up Sweetgreen (there are 2 locations within walking distance of Fhitting Room!), Just Salad, or Blossom Du Jour. If you’re searching for solid sit-down options, Simon recommends the Chicken Salad at our neighbor, Bella Luna. Other UWS regulars including Ben are partial to Playa Betty’s California-inspired menu and beach-y vibes. Our Location Leader, Elspeth, prefers the Italian options and friendly service at Bellini. For those looking to carbo-load, H&H Bagels is a frequent between-class stop for Mat and Eric.
Sometimes, even our highest-energy FHIXers need a little pick me up. Luckily, Columbus Avenue is home to plenty of coffee shops, including Birdbath, Joe’s Coffee, and Birch Coffee. If you’re looking to get your juice FHIX, major chains like Juice Generation and Juice Press have outposts on the Upper West Side
Looking to indulge a little after an extra-grueling FHIX? There are many decadent dessert options in our new ‘hood! Levain has two neighborhood locations for those looking to sample their drool-worthy cookies. For a healthier treat, Lacee recommends picking up a Klossie from Milk Bar, while Troy opts for the occasional cookie from the Macaron Parlour.
If you are searching for some fitness gear, Lululemon and Athleta are both within walking distance of our newest location. If you’re in the market for something to wear when you’re not in spandex or lycra, check out neighborhood boutiques including Olive and Bette’s, Intermix, CPW, and Variazioni.
Not sure what to do post-FHIX? For a little culture fix, consider stopping by The Natural History Museum, The American Folk Art Museum, The New York Historical Society, or The Museum of Biblical Art. There’s also a weekly farmer’s market every Sunday on 79th Street and Columbus, and of course, Central Park is just one block away for those looking to add some nature into their day.
6 days. 120 miles. 20,000 feet of elevation gain. The Transrockies Race is a grueling course for which it takes months to prepare. Priya Seshan, a FHIXer since 2015, credits getting her FHIX with helping her embark on this once-in-a-life time challenge. Keep reading to learn more about her journey.
What inspired you to participate in the TransRockies Run? What exactly does the run entail?
In 2009, my longtime friend told me about the TransRockies Run, a 120 mile, 6 day point-to-point trail race in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. My friend tried to convince me to run it, but I was too intimidated by both the extreme distance and altitude. A city girl at heart, I am not an “outdoors” kind of person, and the race involved camping and being outside.
However the challenge of the race intrigued me. How did runners run so far and how could they take on such a challenge, I wondered. It wasn’t until after I ran and finished my first ultramarathon in November 2014 that I started to consider entering the TransRockies Run. I remained tentative about diving in for quite some time, until I decided to sign up for the August 2016 run. I wanted to test myself with a huge challenge and see the world in a unique way. Unfortunately, in 2016, I had a stress reaction in my tibia, so I had to defer to August 2017.
The TransRockies Run is a 120-mile course in Colorado. There are approximately 20,000 feet of elevation gain over the 120-mile course, which traverses rocky terrain, including the infamously steep Hope Pass near Leadville. The altitude, climbing of mountainous terrain, and back-to-back long mileage make this race a challenge for any athlete!
How is this race different than other races you have done in the past?
I’ve been a runner since I was 14. I ran in high school and have run marathons, a 50-mile ultramarathon, and an endless number of half marathons as an adult. However, I had never entered a multistage race, where I would be completing long back-to-back runs for almost a week straight. The altitude was also something to contend with. I had only run one half marathon race at altitude in the past, and I was sick the entire race! It is a challenge to run long distance at altitude, but to add camping to that makes the experience even more demanding.
How did getting your FHIX help you train for the race? What other training did you do to prepare?
Fhitting Room helped me gain lower body strength. I can run for hours, but I have a variety of running injuries and imbalances. Strength work is a weakness of mine. Fhitting Room helped me rev up my glutes and quads, as well as work on my core strength. I took a class each week to prepare and I was challenged each time.
Often during Fhitting Room classes, I had difficulty with an exercise, while the rest of the class appeared to do it with ease. I felt out of my element, but the FHITpros came over and encouraged me to do more reps or showed me how to modify. The trainers made me feel comfortable embracing something I struggle with. These FHIXes reminded me that I was going to be out of my element during the race, but I could successfully push forward and get comfortable being uncomfortable.
Most importantly, with time I noticed that some exercises were getting easier and that I was getting stronger. I really feel like step ups (modified box jumps) were invaluable as they increased my quad and glute strength, and prepared me mentally to tough it out when I was doing long climbs in Colorado. I don’t think I’ll ever look at step ups the same and will push myself more now in class even when my legs are screaming from them—they were that valuable.
In addition to getting my FHIX, I did yin yoga, ran easy twice a week, and completed a long run and a long hike each week. My mileage was not at all optimal because of an old hip injury flaring up, but I strongly believe that cross training at Fhitting Room was integral in helping me run the race.
Who are your favorite FHIT pros and why?
All of the FHIT pros are wonderful. However, I do have my favorites! My favorite FHITpros are Eric, Dennys, Daury, and Carlos. All of them meet me where I am at and modify the exercises so that I can do them successfully. They help me with modifications and they recognize that there is not a “one size fits all” approach to the classes.
In addition, all of them have great playlists! This helps me unwind after a long, intense day. I work as a social worker in a public school GED program with young men and women in East Harlem, many of whom are returning to the community post-incarceration.
I would definitely recommend trying a FHIX, even if it seems intimidating—while some individuals may fly through a class, they too had to start somewhere.
Do you have a favorite exercise you’ve learned at Fhitting Room? What about a least favorite?
My favorite exercise is the kettlebell swing, or anything with kettlebells!! I really enjoy the swings and it is an exercise that I can see progress in from week to week. It’s also nice to swing a weight and get out some stress after a long day! My least favorite are—you guessed it—burpees and squat thrusts! I am still working on perfecting my squat thrusts.
I am not flexible at all, and have yet to be able to swoop my legs up in one graceful move as the FHITpros do so easily! Squat thrusts and burpees also raise my heartrate and leave me breathless, even though I run so much! It’s my goal to master the squat thrust and then move on to perfecting a burpee! I know it is going to take time, but one has to start somewhere!
What do you remember about your first FHIX?
My first FHIX was in 2015 at Penthouse with Eric and Dennys. I remember feeling intimidated by all the fit people in the room and worrying about being able to keep up with them. During the workout both Eric and Dennys came over to me multiple times and gave me modifications and form corrections. At the end of the class, I felt tired, but also inspired to get stronger.
I may not ever have six pack abs or look buff, but that’s not why I get my FHIX. I take classes at Fhitting Room to stay strong as I age into my 40s and to supplement my running. The vibe at Fhitting Room has been so encouraging that I have since introduced the classes to my friends.
What was the most challenging part of the race? What was the most rewarding?
There were so many moments when I questioned what I had gotten myself into! I had a prior injury that was acting up and then I fell right before the race so my ankle was swollen. Camping outside and being very cold made the race more challenging.
Two of the hardest days were day 4, which had a 40 percent incline grade, and day 6. On that last day, I woke up vomiting from altitude sickness and had to run 22.5 miles. At mile 7, my legs locked up due to dehydration. I had a tough stretch but was able to get back on track from miles 13-16.
Unfortunately, I got cut off at the 16.5 mile mark and wasn’t able to finish the race in it’s entirety. For about 5 minutes, I was devastated, but then I realized that it was okay—I had tried hard to accomplish my goal, but fell short. I really do believe that had I not been sick, I would have finished. Sometimes it is the journey that counts, not the destination.
I had two extremely rewarding moments that stand out in my mind. The first was on day 2, when I got to the top of Hope Pass, which is on the Leadville 100 course. This was the highest climb of the week and the scenery was absolutely beautiful. The climb was tough, but when I got to the top, I was able to appreciate it so much because my own legs had gotten me there!
The other rewarding moment was seeing my older sister at the finish. She had flown out from NYC to support me in the last stage of the race. Although I got cut with six miles to go, having her there meant so much. I had tried my hand at something so completely out of my comfort zone and put it all on the line when running the race.
How did you celebrate post-finish line?
I attended a banquet with my sister and other runners, which was a great time! I then stayed in Beaver Creek, CO for a few more days to relax. Once I reunited with the rest of my family, we went out to eat at my favorite Mexican place and had margaritas. I guess you could say that I had a celebration for each day I ran.
What will your workout schedule look like post-race? Are you training for any more races coming up?
I took a well-deserved week off after the race. My plan for the next two months is to attend Fhitting Room for strength work and do yin yoga to increase my flexibility. I am slowly building back my mileage with easy running, and will resume long runs in preparation for some fall marathons. In six weeks I will tackle the Chicago Marathon, which will be my 13th marathon. I also plan on running the NYC Marathon for fun. After that, I’ll focus more on Fhitting Room so that I can correct my imbalances and come back stronger for races in 2018.
Forget the dog days of summer; August has been nonstop here at Fhitting Room! From footage of one of our classes in action to a podcast with our FHIT Founder, Kari Saitowitz, keep reading to catch up on the workout news we’ve been buzzing about this month.
1) If you’ve been HITing it hard, you know proper recovery is key to killing it in your next FHIX. Read this Mindbodygreen article to learn more about what you should eat to make sure you bounce back from your next killer workout.
2) There are some workout moves that even trainers think you shouldn’t be doing! Well + Good caught up with four top fitness pros (including our own Jess Sims) to read what exercises you can skip and which highly effective alternate moves you should do instead.
3) If you’re looking for a change of pace from your standard swim-bike-run triathlon, you’re in luck. Check out these unconventional multi-sport races on Shape.com to learn more about other one-of-a-kind events that will challenge your body in new ways.
4) Nobody wants to worry about unFHIT smells during their last set of burpees. Keep your Muscles and Margaritas crop smelling fresh with these tips from The Observer on how to wash your gym clothes for maximum odor protection.
5) Forget Instagram models, this basketball team of women who are all 80+ years old is true FHITspo. SELF has all the details about the badass women on the San Diego Splash as well as videos of the team in action.
6) While we usually endorse going all out, there are a couple of red flags even die-hard exercisers should not ignore. If you experience any of the warning signs broken down in this Greatist article, it may be time to take a rest day before you continue getting your FHIX.
7) Curious how Fhitting Room came to be? Check out HaloTalks to learn how our own FHIT Founder, Kari Saitowitz, became an ‘accidental entrepreneur’ and found her career renaissance with Fhitting Room.
8) You know regular FHIXes do wonders for your body, but what about your mind? This New York Times article explains how exercise can help you learn a new language thanks to gains in both vocabulary and comprehension.
9) Bad news for guac lovers: Avocado prices are expected to surge in the near future. Well + Good explains the cause of this unfortunate price hike and when you can expect increases to go into effect.
10) This month we welcomed CNBC into our Flatiron location as part of their tour of popular boutique fitness studios. Click here to learn more about their FHIXperience and why so many people flock to specialty classes like ours.
When we first met Ben Milakofsky, we were wondering why a former West Wing staffer from the Obama administration would be interested in working at Fhitting Room. Needless to say, we were intrigued and wanted to meet him. Now that Ben has been a part of our FHITfam for over 6 months, we are excited to share in his own words his most FHITspirational achievement – climbing Mt. Rainier. Read on to hear how Ben first found Fhitting Room and how getting his FHIX prepared him for one of the biggest physical challenges of his life.
The height of the fiercest mountain in the lower 48. An episodically active composite volcano.
The peak of Mt. Rainier. Columbia Crest to be specific.
Out of my reach during my first summit attempt in May 2016, I knew I would go back the following year.
And I don’t get there without Fhitting Room and their lunges, squats, thrusters, box jumps, rowers, assault bikes, and yes – burpees!
In August of 2016, I reached out to a friend living in NYC. I was traveling from DC to NYC for a wedding and I asked her for a running route as we were both training for the Chicago marathon. The humidity was in full effect and temperatures were expected to reach 97 degrees. Not exactly ideal conditions for an 18-mile run when you don’t know the water fountain locations or which bridges, highways, and parks to visit.
My friend is a long time Fhixer, a Boston marathon qualifier, and a stellar athlete. She countered my running plan, suggesting a challenging HIIT workout at Fhitting Room. My weekly routine included HIIT classes, Yasso 800’s, a few intermediate runs, a local spinning studio, and one long run each week. HIIT is my favorite I thought – why not give Fhitting Room a try?
I was nursing a headache and searching for a good sweat. Although, I wasn’t feeling my best, I naively felt ready for this. Within 15 minutes I was panting on the floor wondering how I was supposed to do banded pull-ups for 60 seconds straight as part of a circuit.
“WHAT IS THIS?!” I thought.
Of course, I was hooked and took my second intro class a few weeks later during a follow up trip at the end of the month.
Fast forward a few months.
My position in DC was coming to an end and I found myself emailing email@example.com. After an incredible adventure that included stops in the White House and the U.S. Department of the Interior (and a quick trip to Baghdad), I was relocating to NYC to be closer to family. That much was certain. Everything else felt up in the air. But I was going back to Rainier in July.
Facing an extended break, I was hoping Fhitting Room would allow me to work a few shifts a week in exchange for the ability to take classes. I didn’t know who would read the note but I honestly told them: “I can’t think of a better fitness studio to support given how much I loved the classes I took.” They were curious, the timing was great as they prepared to open a third location, and invited me to visit for a conversation. They wanted to know why I was interested in them. In my mind, it was simple.
Training at sea level isn’t ideal training conditions for mountaineering. There are vertical inside stairwells, but you can’t really use your ice axe and crampons on NYC stairs. How else was I going to prepare my core, quads, hamstrings, and calves for this? Hiking in Shenandoah last time wasn’t enough. Climbing a mountain is technical and it is not hiking. Running stairs with a 44lb vest for short sprints wasn’t going to be enough either. Spinning and running – nope. My workout plan needed to adjust if I was going to summit. I remembered my time on the floor last August and thought I found my anchor.
Unfortunately, I had an unexpected surgery in mid-April and I would only have two months to truly train for the climb. Again, it is NOT a hike. People die annually on this mountain and I would need to give it my all. Over the next two months, I would take 25 Fhitting Room classes and have now taken over 40 classes since I moved to NYC at the end of winter. I could feel myself getting stronger and mountain ready throughout training. With each set of lunges and squats, I could set my sights on Rainier’s upper mountain. Over time, I could feel my body composition changing. As the FHITpros suggested a distance on the rower and calories on the assault bike, I saw those numbers as a minimum instead of a goal. With May rolling into June and then July, I found myself adding extensions to my box jumps to make the height more challenging. My body was evolving and the incredible trainers at Fhitting Room were helping me prepare to achieve my goal. The FHITpros corrected my form, encouraged my push, and motivated me throughout each class.
Often, I would double and triple my workout by adding in other studio classes. My Sunday routine became a quadruple workout for endurance. But I would always go to Fhitting Room first as it was the most challenging and most rewarding. There were days where I would walk stairs with a 44lb vest for hours, but only after Fhitting Room. I needed to build endurance but the right kind of endurance.
I was finally going back. A few days in Seattle including my first hike at Mt. Si, I was heading back to the mountain. Following gear check, we had our safety training day. You learn how to climb the mountain including proper breathing and walking techniques. They also teach you how to correctly use your ax and crampons. This includes the self-arrest technique should you or someone on your rope team fall. Finally, on Wednesday, July 26 we set off to climb the mountain.
We spent the morning climbing and gaining 4700 vertical feet before arriving at Camp Muir – the half way point – and an elevation of approximately 10,188 feet. Our group of 18 arrived in early afternoon, mostly smiling and some nursing some wicked mountaineering boot blisters. I went with preventative medicine and wrapped duct tape around my heels. A quick 3:30pm dinner was followed by a short rest. The guides woke us up for breakfast at 10 p.m. and we would depart by 11.
Unlike last time when I never saw the mountain until I drove to the airport, the views were spectacular and the weather was largely cooperative. You could see Mt. Adams, Mt. St. Helens, and even Mt. Hood in Oregon during the day. At night, the sky was stunningly beautiful. I wanted to gaze at the stars for hours, but the task at hand would require my full attention.
We climbed through Cathedral Gap which is largely rockfall and traversed over to Ingraham Flats. After a short break for food and water, we headed to a brutal and vertical section of the upper mountain that is aptly named Disappointment Clever. It is largely exposed rock and they pull your rope team in close. We would scramble in silence with our feet and legs pounding. There are very narrow sections and I forgot to walk the proper way. A few times, I pulled on the person in front of me making their climb a little harder. Finally, we reached the top of the cleaver which is approximately 12,300 feet. Half way to the summit and it was now about 2 a.m.
A few team members decided to head back down. We were told to make a final decision. We had several hours left but if we continued we had to go all the way to the summit. Get food and water and decide quickly. I faced this decision last year at high break which is approximately 13,500 feet and the final resting location before the summit. Choosing to head down 90 minutes before reaching the summit in 2016 remains one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever made. Going up is optional but coming down is mandatory. It sounds obvious but it’s a nearly impossible decision to make while you are sucking wind on the mountain. Breathing gets particularly difficult on the upper mountain above 10,000 feet.
Admonished by our lead guide for pulling on the rope, I had doubts of whether I should continue. I felt great but then again I was pulling. That wasn’t good and I asked what I should do. His response, “You got this, Ben. You should keep going.” Relieved but a little unsure, I thought for another minute. I wasn’t ready to come down. I felt good. My legs and core were fresh from training. Let’s do this!
The guides are constantly evaluating the conditions on the mountain. You climb at night to minimize risk. This time of year, large crevasse’ open and sometimes you can’t safely cross with a ladder. These deep fractures in the ice field are dangerous. The decision had been made to traverse half way across the mountain, switch to a different glacier and climb up the Emmons Glacier route. This would mean losing 300 vertical feet which we would have to regain (and also have to address on the way down). We added another 45 minutes to our ascent climb but we eventually made it to the final break for water and food. Throughout the night climb and its most solitary moments, I focused on what I had accomplished these past 8 weeks. I had graduated to new weights of kettlebells for dead lifts, swings, and lunges. Finally, I could handle a modified wall stand and my distance on the rower had achieved new heights.
It was about an hour away and I was utterly exhausted. Climbing can be lonely and quiet for long stretches other than important instructions from the guide. Given the conditions on the mountain, we were roped in near each other, which was different than last time, and we casually talked to pass the time. But I couldn’t talk any more. 3 seconds of breathing in followed by 1 second of pushing out really hard. 3 seconds of breathing in and PUSH. At this altitude, you need to discharge the CO2 and get oxygen to your body. It’s now frigid and the wind is picking up to 25-30mph.
We departed for the final part of our summit ascent and it was extremely vertical. I muttered curse words and took big, deep breaths. We finally reached the base of the summit at 5:30am just as the sun was up. It is cold and windy up there! “Congratulations – you officially summited,” they said. Technically it wasn’t the final peak but it was optional to go the final stretch. I tried to move and fell back down. I contemplated staying there when someone correctly said, “you are 50 vertical feet (about ten minutes) from the summit. Get your ass up there.”
Ok. OK. I listened. Slowly I clawed my way to Columbia Crest by 5:45am. I just summited but I was only half way…coming down is mandatory.
I honestly wouldn’t have gotten there this year without Fhitting Room. I will always appreciate the opportunity they gave me while knowing I wouldn’t stay forever. I may have another full time job now working as the Chief of Staff at the National September 11 Memorial and Museum, but I love this team (and FHITfam!). You can find me at the front desk on Saturdays. I will probably be complaining about the awful walk down that mountain for months.
Every year, there are a handful of songs destined to be played on repeat throughout summer at barbeques, pool parties, and workouts around the country. If you have not found your go-to summer tune yet, you’re in luck! In addition to being experts in all things FHITness, our FHITpros are basically DJs in disguise. Check out their picks for the best songs of 2017 and the workout moves they love to do with them. Love the round up? Get it here on our Spotify.
Favorite Song of 2017: A Lie by French Montana featuring The Weekend and Max B
Workout Moves: Something high energy, like a FHIX!
Favorite Song of 2017: Wins and Losses by Meek Mill
Workout Moves: Great for a nice strength portion of your workout
(Photo via Soundcloud)
Favorite Song of 2017: Despacito by Luis Fonsi, Daddy Yankee featuring Justin Bieber
Workout Moves: This song is great for strength work, and just dancing and having a good time
Favorite Song of 2017: Bring Dem Things by French Montana
Workout Moves: I like to chest press (to the beat obvi)
(Photo via The Arts Union)
Favorite Song of 2017: Stay by Zedd featuring Alessia Cara
Workout Moves: It’s not a FHIX song per se but stick me on the bike or the rower and I could get some work done to that chorus!
Favorite Song: Party on the West Coast by Matoma, Faith Evans, and The Notorious B.I.G.
Workout Move: Long AMRAP, because it’s happy and fun
(Photo via Genius.com)
Favorite Song of 2017: $lay by Meek Mill featuring ASAP Ferg
Workout Move: I like that it slows the beat down at various points so if you’re doing a bunch of burpees for example, it affords you a consistent pace and a place to pause based on the beat
Favorite Song of 2017: Praying by Kesha
Workout Move: I am OBSESSED with the new Kesha song Praying. I play it for cool downs and I listen to it all the time alone
Favorite Song of 2017: Bounce Back by Big Sean
Workout Move: I love to warm up to it, or play it for the first part of my workout
(Photo via Hulkshare)
Favorite Song: Mi Gente by J Balvin and Willy William
Workout Move: It’s a great song for a lot of things, especially lifting heavy during our strength sections or to find the motivation for the FHIX!
Favorite Song: Mask Off by Future, Marshmello Remix
Workout Move: This is the perfect song for a warm up to get the FHIXers in the zone for what’s to come. It’s also great during the circuit once that beat drops it’s on fire. My favorite move to any dope track is the kettlbell figure 8, it’s such a rhythm based move it’s easy to kill it on beat with the right track!
July has brought us a lot more than fireworks and barbeques this year (although there have been plenty of those too!). This month marked some major milestones for our community, including an exciting new addition to our FHITfam. Keep reading to learn about the top stories we’re sure to be talking about all summer long!
1. Baby Palma has arrived! FHITpro Amanda Butler gave birth to Parker Liam Palma on July 8th. Amanda is one of our original FHITpros and the first in our family to deliver a baby. She is taking some time to bond with her new son but will be back helping you HIT it hard soon!
2. Swimming is a great way to tone your arms and legs, but chlorine isn’t doing your hair any favors. In order to protect your strands and continue getting your pool FHIX, check out these 5 shampoo choices PureWow recommends for swim-heavy summers.
3. Whether you’re 17 or 70, any age is a great time to get your FHIX according to this New York Times article. The piece describes a new study which explores the effects of high intensity interval training for different age groups–and found that everyone beneFHITted!
4. Want to make sure your grocery shopping is as smart as your workout routine? Well + Good shares the 6 food shopping mistakes nutritionists wish healthy people would stop making.
5. If you’ve ever wondered when to fuel up to maximize your workout, keep reading! Greatist explains whether it is better to eat before or after a sweat session and what kind of food choices you should be making.
6. It may be time to start picking up kettlebells on the second (or third!) shelf. Shape sheds light on a new study which touts lifting heavy as the most efficient way to build strength. Researchers found that weightlifting more effectively conditions the nervous system, meaning your muscles can exert more force with less effort when compared to someone who sticks to 3 pound dumbbells.
7. It happens to everyone once in awhile: you go a little too hard in the FHIX and wake up feeling seriously sore. Luckily, Brit + Co has some helpful tips to ease aching muscles and keep soreness at bay.
8. Summer happy hours are hard to resist, but with these tips from Well + Good you can sip guilt-free. Check out their three picks for delicious cocktails that are low in calories but sky-high in flavor.
9. Did you miss FHITpro Mark Ribeiro’s run on American Ninja Warrior last month? Check out his Instagram for some clips of him in action and tune in when he is back on for the Cleveland City Finals in a few weeks!
10. You may rely on a cup of joe for some pre-FHIX energy, but is your latte habit healthy? Goop explores the potential pros and cons of drinking coffee as well as some tips on picking brews and beans.