NYC’s Top 10 Stories in Fitness: October 2017

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While autumn technically started in late September, October is when the season hits full (kettlebell) swing. As we prepare for a festively FHIT Halloween, we’re taking some time to look back on the stories that had us buzzing this month. Keep reading to learn what pieces of news made our top 10 for October.

1) Kick gymtimidation to the curb with the help of one of own FHITpros, Carlos Davila. He shares his tips on how to feel confident when you’re new to strength training (or FHIXing) with Health magazine in this article.

2) Thinking about donning a belly-baring costume this Halloween? Sneak in some last minute core work by checking out Amanda Butler’s ab-centric workout featured on Redbook’s website.

3) Watch out, Amazon Prime! Well + Good reports that the buy-in-bulk destination Costco is rolling out its own speedy delivery system, which will include fresh produce in nearly 400 locations. Get ready for ample avocados on demand at sub-Whole Foods prices.

4) We know FHIXes are great for boosting strength and endurance, but what about creativity? According to Elite Daily, HIT has been shown to improve memory and cognition, which can positively impact creative capabilities. The next time you’re struggling with writer’s block, maybe a quick circuit is just what you need to bang out some more paragraphs.

5) Not sure what kind of recovery routine is best post-FHIX? Mindbodygreen breaks down exactly what interval training fanatics need to do to restore and recharge after that last set of burpees.

6) If you need to cross strength training and cardio off of your to-do list and have less than 30 minutes to spare, Lacee Lazoff has you covered. Check out the multitasking workout she created for time-crunched days on SELF’s website.

7) Is the 3PM slump an all too common occurrence for you? Greatist shares 19 afternoon snacks dieticians recommend to keep you energized and focused until dinner time.

8) If you’re looking to strengthen your arms sans weights, check out Haute Living for a 20 minute upper body workout that you can do in your living room. Amanda Butler breaks down each movement and demonstrates what top notch form looks like.

9) Between the wildfires in California and the hurricanes along the coast, the time is now to help those affected by natural disaster. Whether you missed our Puerto Rico beneFHIT class or are eager to keep the pattern of giving going, check out this GOOP article to learn where you can donate to next.

10) Well + Good has your back when it comes to last minute Halloween costumes on the cheap. Check out their top 5 costumes you can create with items from your workout clothes drawer.

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Fitness Inspiration: BRCA Survivor Elianna Sable Kaye

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October isn’t just about Halloween and pumpkin spice snacks, it’s also the focus of something a lot more meaningful: National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Thanks to advances in research, more and more women are falling into a unique category of survivors known as previvors, individuals who carry a predisposition to cancer but were never diagnosed with the disease.

This year, one of our FHIXers became a part of this group after she was diagnosed with a genetic mutation. Keep reading to learn more about Elianna’s experience, her decision to undergo preventative surgery, the advice she has for others who receive a similar diagnosis, and how Fhitting Room plays a part in it all.

What are the BRCA gene mutations and what role do they play in the risk of breast cancer development? What made you decide to get tested for this mutation?

A BRCA mutation is a mutation in either of the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, which are tumor suppressor genes. Women with harmful mutations in either BRCA1 or BRCA2 have a risk of breast cancer that is about five times the normal risk, and a risk of ovarian cancer that is about ten to thirty times above average.

I am positive for the BRCA 2 mutation which means my chances of getting breast cancer were up to 80 percent pre-surgery. Due to family history, my mom recently got tested and because she was positive for the gene, it meant my sister and I had a 50 percent chance of having it. I have it and thankfully my sister does not.

I found out I had the gene in May, and had my surgery in September. I was obviously scared, and disappointed when I found out, but I immediately took all of those feelings and turned them into gratitude. I was the lucky one! I had information that allowed me to change my fate. I could take control, I could stop something that other people in my family could not!

What went through your mind when you received your results? What made you decide to opt for a preventative double mastectomy?

I felt that I needed to do it immediately. It was also super helpful that one of my closest friends who had known she had the gene for a few years already had her surgery scheduled. So after seeing specialists and doing all my research, we ended up having the surgery on the same day at the same hospital with the same surgeon! (talk about a supportive friend).

What would you want other women to know about your experience and the importance of early breast cancer detection and preventative treatments?

All I can really say is that I was able to take that 80 percent chance of getting breast cancer number and turn that into 1 percent! That stat is what gave me the strength to have the surgery and I will have the numbers on my side for the rest of my life.


What (or who) has helped you stay strong through this experience?

The fact that I was so privileged to be able to do this surgery as a healthy, cancer-free woman has been keeping me motivated! No matter what I felt (never anything too bad!), I had that on my mind.

What has your recovery process been like? When can we welcome you back for your return FHIX?

Thank God, recovery has been really positive. Let’s just say I had the surgery 3 weeks ago and I took a double Soul-Cycle class this AM!!!! I was super careful and still can’t really do the weights, but let me tell you, it felt awesome!

I hope to be back FHIXing as soon as I am allowed to do a pushup. My doctor is just as eager as I am for me to work out. I am thinking of going next week and just doing whatever I can and modifying what I am not allowed to do! I don’t know if I can stay out of that room much longer!

Describe your first FHIXperience. What brought you to the studio and what were your thoughts before, during, and after the class?

I first heard about Fhitting Room from fellow Soul-Cycle instructor Daniel Wiener. At the time there was only one studio on 80th and Lexington. My first class ever was with Amanda Butler at 7:30 am on a Friday morning. From the moment I walked into the room (yes, I was nervous and made sure not to tell her I was a fitness instructor!)  I was hooked! I went every Friday morning at 7:30am in between my 2 Soul-Cycle classes.  Eventually one class a week wasn’t FHIXing it for me anymore and I started to go to the 5:30pm on Monday with Dara and the one and only Eric!

How does getting your FHIX complement your career as a Soul-Cycle instructor? Do you find the cross-training beneficial and if so, how?

Soul-Cycle has been such an important part of my workout regimen for almost 10 years!! I love riding at Soul-Cycle every day for the physical and mental benefits! But, I have learned that it is also important to switch it up from time to time and find additional ways to move your body.

This is when I started incorporating Fhitting Room into my routine. Since I started cross training with Fhitting Room, my ride at Soul-Cycle has become so much stronger! It feels really awesome to be strong both on and off the bike! I knew I was in love when I was smiling while doing 50 burpees!

Who are your favorite FHITpros and what do you like about them?

I love all the instructors! Everyone is so encouraging and on a mission for you to work your ass off while having the best time! But I obviously will always have a special place in my heart for Amanda!  (Nothing like your first FHIX).


What are your favorite movements you’ve learned at Fhitting Room? Do you have any least favorites?

Nothing gets me more jacked up than kettlebell swings!! It’s so satisfying to get the movement perfect! I love that its strength and cardio combined! (after all I am a cardio junkie).

Believe it or not, as ironic as it is, I dread the assault bike,  I don’t care what anyone says, it is nothing like a Soul-Cycle bike and it makes me feel like I’m going to vomit all over the place!!!!

As a fitness instructor yourself, what is it like to go back to being a “student” at Fhitting Room? Has taking class impacted how you teach and if so, how?

It is really therapeutic for me to relinquish the control of a fitness class, and put all my trust in another instructor. The main thing I have really learned is that being a great instructor is about creating a sense of trust with the whole room. At Fhitting Room I know there is someone guiding me and rooting for me the whole time!

I also have a new understanding and compassion for my students. Being new at something can be really intimidating and as the instructor it is so important to be tapped into that. Everyone can be a rockstar no matter what your level of experience is.


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Fitness Inspiration: NICU Advocate Amy Knepper

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With the TCS New York City Marathon around the corner, thousands of runners are lacing up their sneakers and preparing to embark on this impressive feat of endurance. Among this group of athletes is Amy Knepper, an avid runner and frequent FHIXer who created a charity to support Mount Sinai Hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Keep reading to learn what inspired Amy to create TEAM ANDI and the role FHIXes play in her marathon training.

Describe your first FHIXperience.

It was invigorating! I liked reading on the whiteboard what was expected of me so I could mentally prepare and physically plan out the next 50 minutes.  I also really liked that there were 2 instructors.


What brought you to Fhitting Room and who was leading the class?

My friend Eve Schenk is an avid FR athlete.  She was always raving about it so I tried it with her.  We took Daury’s class; his personality had me smiling throughout the entire 50 minutes.  I appreciated his workout instructions, which were honest, candid, to the point, and safe.

How did you feel before, during, and after your first FHIX? 

I loved it…until the FHIX at the end that really pushed me and made me love it even more.


Tell us about the charity you’re running for. What inspired you to start TEAM ANDI and what are your goals for the charity?

My daughter Andi was born 3 months premature.  She lived in an incubator at Mount Sinai Hospital’s Neo-Intensive Care Unit for the first 11 weeks of her life.  Not being able to live with her, bond with her, experience her first bath, her first diaper change, and be able to sleep next to her was a heartache I feel no parent should experience.

I took my passion for running and formed TEAM ANDI.  We run and raise funds to build private family suites within the NICU for families to live with their at-risk newborns.  We already have 1 room and are almost done with our second.  It’s also extremely inspiring for all of our runners that Mount Sinai’s NICU sits at mile 23 of the TCS NYC course.  To run past those little athletes who are fighting for survival gives us an extra burst of inspiration to push through those final 3.2 miles of the race.


What has the process for starting and running Team Andi been like?

I love knowing that future families with premature newborns will be able to bond from the start as a family unit from the sweat, running high, time commitment, passion, and heart of TEAM ANDI athletes.


You’re quite the runner! How has Fhitting Room helped you train for marathons?

Cross training is very important.  You need to have strong, durable muscles to complete and compete in a marathon.  To only run is not how you train for a marathon.  Running alone will make you more injury prone and bored.  You need to work your entire body.

What moves have you learned that most beneFHIT your training?

I like the efficient warm up–I use some of those 2 minute exercises pre-run, and the rowing machine is critical to working out muscles you need for running.

How do you work Fhitting Room into your training schedule?

I only run 3 times a week.  Sometimes only 2… The other days I do FR, Spin or Barre classes or rest.


What role does HIT training play in helping you prepare for long runs?

I work muscles in HIT that I wouldn’t typically strengthen.  I’m also forced to do some exercises I might not otherwise enjoy or choose to do, which is good.  You never know when you might need those not always used muscles to compensate for a tired muscle or an injury (which you hope never happens, but is realistic).

Who are your favorite FHITpros and what draws you to them?

Daury, Dara, Mat and Dennys, I always leave with a great sweat and they correct my form when needed.

Do you have any favorite Fhitting Room moves?

I like the Ski erg which is bizarre since it has nothing to do with leg strength.

What about least favorites?



How will you celebrate after completing the New York City Marathon?

We host a TEAM ANDI party with lots of toasts and food to refuel while we wear our medals proudly.   All TEAM ANDI runners celebrate together with friends and family.  My kids, Eli and Andi, are my biggest fans, I love getting that first sweaty cold snuggle in the park from them post finish line as they fight over who gets to wear mommy’s medal first.

Do you have any other races on the horizon?

I just completed Chicago last Sunday, and I’m signed up to run Boston in April 2018, , which will be my 20th marathon.


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Finding Love at the Gym

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Many of us would be lying if we said we didn’t have a workout crush, whether on a fellow FHIXer or a FHITpro, but the truth is only a handful of fitness friends end up marrying their endorphin-induced heartthrobs. Frequent FHIXers John Bradarich and Courtney Bonnell are two of the lucky few! Keep reading to learn more about their love at first FHIX romance.

Describe each of your first FHIXes. What brought you to class and how did you feel before, during, and after your first class?

CB: I heard about Fhitting Room from my business partner and best friend Jane, who basically had to drag me to my first class, because I was so nervous.  I have asthma and always worry about having some embarrassing, dramatic asthma attack.  I had also heard it was a really tough class and I wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into!

The Fhitting Room, while super challenging, is so accommodating to first timers. I also met John at my very first class.  By the end of my first class, I felt like I could hang and I never turned back!  The energy level at Fhitting Room is unrivaled and it caught me right away.

JB:  Kristen Siebert first recommended Fhitting Room to me after she had been going fairly regularly. Back then, I had been doing mostly strength training in the weight room, and Kristen convinced me that FR would be a great compliment. And boy did she turn out to be right.

I had never taken a group workout class before so I was pretty nervous heading into my first FR experience simply due to not knowing what to expect. I had a million thoughts running through my head. How would I know how to do everything? Would I be able to keep up?

Once class got going though, I started to feel much more comfortable. The constant attention Amanda and Dennys paid to everyone helped me build confidence when executing some of the movements I was less familiar with. I also began to realize that the workout was so intense, you really only had the time to focus on yourself – no one in there is sitting around judging anyone else!

After class was over, I was totally drained. I hadn’t experienced a full body workout that left me that exhausted since football two-a-day practices in high school! It was an amazing feeling and I have been hooked ever since.

When did you first take class with one another? What was your first impression of each other?

CB:  I met John during my very first Fhitting Room class with Dennys and Julia!  It was a Friday night in March of 2016!  I saw him while he was getting ready for class and was ogling his muscles from a distance.  The stars were aligned and we ended up standing next to each other in class.  As cliché as it may sound, we locked eyes and something just happened.  From there he proceeded to impress me with extra explosive bosu ball pushups and all!  After a sweaty convo attempt with John post-class, he got caught up in a conversation with a fellow FHIXer.

I lingered around waiting for him to come back – as long as a self-respecting girl would – and finally I ended up leaving, wondering why this dude didn’t just get it together!  Again, the stars were aligned – or John secretly ran down the street after me – and he ended up right behind me on 19th.  He walked me to the train and we had a great convo, somehow void of any normal first-time awkwardness.  He smoothly asked me out to dinner and for my number before I got on the train, and that was that!

JB: The Fhitting Room will always be such a special place to me because it is literally where my life changed. I was headed to the Flatiron studio on March 4, 2016 for a Friday night workout in my typical FR mindset: amped up on pre-workout, blasting rap music, and ready to just crush everything. As I walked into the studio prepared to dominate, I looked towards my spot and happened to lock eyes with a fit and beautiful blonde girl whose gorgeous blue eyes sent an absolute charge through my entire body. It was like nothing I had ever felt before and I was completely thrown out of my element. In my mind I was thinking “Wait, WTF just happened!?!”

I attempted to regroup and gather myself as the workout started. Lo and behold, we were then put into the same group during the Interval Circuit. I immediately felt the pressure and need to impress this Blue Eyed Goddess with my physical feats of strength.

What I had not planned for, unfortunately, was my exit strategy. My Herculean effort during the entire workout left me showering sweat everywhere and gasping for air when class ended. My oxygen-deprived brain was racing for a semi-coherent statement to make to this majestic queen of fitness and beauty as I approached her outside of the studio. I walked up (maybe limped/crawled) prepared to woo her away with my gentlemanly charm and said, “Hey there…have we met before…?” DISASTER.

Luckily, Courtney did not let my complete cheeseball of a pick-up line deter her from allowing me to walk her to the train as she headed home. This was crucial, as it extended my recovery time, and I was actually able to hold a conversation. We hit it off immediately and I proceeded to ask her to dinner. The rest is history!


What do you do when you’re not getting your FHIX? (professionally and/or recreationally)

CB:  I work in the fashion industry and co-own a brand development and sales management agency.  John and I obviously love to work out together – mostly at The Fhitting Room and Y7 – and we like to travel as much as we can, go out to dinner, drink wine, watch good movies and hang out with our friends and fellow FHIXers, like the Sieberts!

JB: I work in the Private Bank at JPMorgan where I work with individual clients to create customized investment solutions to help them achieve their wealth planning goals. In addition to what Courtney mentioned, I am also a big University of Michigan sports fan. College football Saturdays are routinely spent cheering and cursing at the TV.

How long did it take for you to hang out outside of Fhitting Room? Describe your first date.

CB:  We went out the following week after we met.  We went to dinner in the East Village and had drinks after; it was a perfect first date. We went out again on a second date soon after that and it was a wrap from thereon out!

JB: Honestly, on our first date I was trying my best to play it cool. I was in love with Courtney from the moment I first saw her in the Flatiron studio, but just kept thinking “That’s crazy man. You’re crazy. You can’t just fall in love like that!” So I tried that entire first date to not give away the fact that I was completely head-over-heels for her. I probably failed miserably. I felt such an intense connection during our conversations that night; it firmly confirmed that I was crazy. Crazy in love with Courtney.

How often do you take class together? Do you like to work together during partner segments or do your own thing?

CB:  We normally take class together about 3 times per month.  We definitely like to partner together, but sometimes it makes more sense to partner up with someone closer to your size.

JB: We will usually partner together. I always feel that drive and desire to prove to Courtney that I am the strongest man in the world, so she is great motivation during the workouts. Sometimes I’ll switch it up and partner with Kyle Siebert to give him a friendly swolemate reminder of what his aspirational fitness goals look like.



Describe your proposal. How did you know you were ready? Where did it take place? What was the significance of the destination you chose?

CB: I was totally surprised!  We were out to dinner at Lupa – one of our faves – and I noticed an intensity come over John and I thought he was about to tell me some bad news, in all honesty!  I was on the edge of my seat and then finally realized what was going on…! Obviously from there I was ecstatic.  He also killed it on the ring selection, I must say!

JB: I knew I was ready from day one! I’ve been completely obsessed with Courtney since we met, so I have been so excited about the idea of marrying her. We just moved in together this summer, so the timing felt right to take that next step.

Somehow I did a pretty great job of keeping the entire proposal a surprise, despite that ring burning a hole in my pocket. I felt like it was our first date all over again where I had to keep telling myself to play it cool. I had a plan of everything I wanted to say leading up to the proposal, but once I got in the moment, I was just overwhelmed with such strong emotions I went off-script about midway through. But I just spoke from the heart and luckily didn’t screw it up too bad since she said yes!


Will your workout routine change at all now that your big day is around the corner? Have you started planning your wedding yet?

CB:  We have not really started planning yet.  We’re throwing around a few different ideas and still feeling out what’ll be the best for us!  The Fhitting Room will definitely be a big part of the pre-wedding program!

JB: My workout routine will probably remain the same. I really like the results I see from using The Fhitting Room as a complement to the strength training I do.

Do you have any advice for first-time FHIXers? 

CB: Ladies, don’t fear heavier weights!  I think some of my best progress overall has been through finally grabbing heavier weights at FR classes.

JB: Be comfortable with being uncomfortable. That’s how you achieve the greatest gains! There were plenty of moves and exercises I was not familiar with when I first started coming to Fhitting Room. Sometimes they feel weird, uncomfortable or especially challenging because you are not used to them. But keep an open mind and trust you are in great hands with FHITpros there, who will make sure you are doing everything safely and correctly.

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Fitness Inspiration: Medical Resident Vanessa Rojas

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Vanessa Rojas is the definition of “No Excuses!”. Vanessa is a Frequent FHIXer who managed to FHIT in sweat sessions throughout her medical residency, a notoriously grueling couple of years for newly minted MDs. Keep reading to learn how getting her FHIX helped her fight through 24 hour shifts and what keeps her coming back for more!

How did you first find out about Fhitting Room? What inspired you to come for your first FHIX?

I first found out about Fhitting Room four years ago. As soon as I joined ClassPass, I read lots of reviews about different studios and it stood out to me, so I decided to give it a try.

Describe your first FHIXperience. Who were your FHITpros and what did you think of the class?

My first FHIXperience was quite daunting initially, but that all quickly went away once the workout started. It was on 80th Street and it was a small class so I knew I couldn’t hide. When I first walked in I was startled by Daury because he was HUGE, had a lot of tattoos and asked me very loudly if it was my first time. HA joke was on me since he has become one of my favorite FHITpros. Eric was also teaching and I just remember being a little taken aback by all the energy he had. Daury asked me if I had ever swung a kettlebell before and I replied “what’s that?”

Once I started the class I felt like I worked out my body in a way completely different from anything I had ever done in the past. I felt challenged by the movements but they still seemed doable. And the magic touch was the motivation Daury and Eric provided. That was unlike any other studio I had ever been to. After the workout, I felt like my fitness life had changed because I wanted to become stronger and better, not just for aesthetic reasons, but because I wanted to become a girl who could do those so called “kettlebell swings.” I could not wait for my next FHIX. My first FHIX was a few months before starting residency and I was a little sad knowing over the next few months I would have little to no time to workout. While I couldn’t come nearly as often as I wanted to during that first year of residency, I made it a point to make it to class as much as possible.


What do you do when you’re not working out?

Most of my time outside Fhitting Room, I spend working. After finishing residency, I feel like I came from being from outer space and am now just getting back to reality.  So now I am trying to re-discover the small joys in life like going to the movies, apple picking, and shopping. Sounds crazy but all very true.

How do you make time for FHIXes with your busy schedule? How do regular classes affect your mood and the goals you are working towards?

Making time for FHIXes is easy. I mentally just pick a day I am going to go to Fhitting Room and don’t sign up for a time until the day before or the day of in case something comes up at the hospital. It’s going to sound corny but making time is all about what you put into it. I know that working out makes me feel refreshed and helps me think more clearly so getting a FHIX is going to happen because I made that decision and not because I necessarily had time. Often during residency, I could have continued working on charts or paperwork, but I knew that by getting a FHIX I gave 50 minutes to myself which ultimately could lead to being able to give back more to my patients. My workout buddy also knows I can’t go too long without a FHIX otherwise I start to feel like something is missing.


What role has high intensity interval training played in thriving during your medical residency?

High intensity interval training played a huge role in thriving during residency. I have found a huge parallel between the two. For example, working 24 hour shifts is quite possibly one of the most difficult mentally and physically draining tasks I have ever had to do in my life. There usually comes a time around 1-3am where complete delirium sets in. There is a certain type of mental and physical energy that one needs for this. It is the same energy that one needs to do burpees during a FHIX after fatigue from the rest of the workout. That little voice telling you to keep going even when you want to stop and crawl in a ball goes a long way during those long nights. Finding that core mental and physical strength is something that helped me persevere time and time again during residency.

Who are your favorite FHITpros? Why are they your favorites?

I have so many favorite FHITpros!!! I love Daury, Eric, Jason, Simon, Mark, Jess, Dara, and Dennys. They are my favorites because they push me to be a better version of myself time and time again all while making me laugh. In today’s society, there is very little building up of each other as humans and to have that at Fhitting Room each and every single time is truly something special.


What are your favorite workout moves and skills you have learned at Fhitting Room? Do you have any least favorites?

My favorite workout move at Fhitting Room is the box jump because I love jumping and (like most of the moves at the Fhitting Room) I used to be terrible at it and now I am so much better. I used to hate the burpee because I just couldn’t do that many but then I trained for a Spartan race, put my mind to it, and dare I say it, I am actually starting to love them.

What advice do you have for first time FHIXers?

My advice for first time FHIXers would be to not get discouraged if you didn’t feel “good enough” at the moves the first time you come. That doesn’t matter one bit!!!! Knowing that I have come so far as a FHIXer makes me super proud and keeps me motivated to push myself to new limits each time.

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Build Muscle, Rebuild Puerto Rico

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The recent devastation caused by hurricanes Irma and Maria in Puerto Rico and the rest of the Caribbean have hit especially close to home for many of our FHITfam, especially those who have family and heritage in PR.

In order to support the recovery efforts, we will be hosting two PUERTO RICO STRONG classes with 100% of the proceeds going to New York Foundling en Puerto Rico, an organization focused on helping kids in low income areas continue their education during this difficult time.

The Deets:
• PUERTO RICO STRONG classes will be held on Saturday 10/14 at 4:00pm and 5:00pm at our Flatiron studio.
• These beneFHIT classes will be $51/spot (in honor of PR feeling like our “51st state!”)
• Daury, Dennys and Carlos will be instructing both of these classes. Yes, all THREE FHITpros will be serving up an extra strong FHIX in honor of Puerto Rico.
• To reserve your spot, call, email or go online to our “Rates and Packages” page and purchase the “Puerto Rico Strong BeneFHIT class” package. Then book your preferred class time on our Flatiron studio schedule.
• All attendees will be entered into a raffle, with one client from each class receiving a special bundle from Nike, including a Nike backpack and training shoes.

We hope you can join us for these beneFHIT classes. If you are unable to make our PUERTO RICO STRONG Signature FHIX classes but would still like to help, donate directly to New York Foundling en Puerto Rico here.

FHIX. Build (muscle). Rebuild Puerto Rico.

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