Health & Fitness

By Jasmin Guleria

As New Yorkers, most of us have a favorite neighborhood restaurant; the owner knows our name, our favorite dish and always greets us with the words ‘Nice to see you again!’ Sure, there always will be trendier ‘hot-spots’ grabbing all the buzz. But, in a city where pop-up stores and clubs with unlisted phone numbers come and go weekly, there are some of us who just want to see a familiar face at a familiar place.

National corporate gyms can be sterile and pushy. Hipster gym/spas frequented by the A-list — lack a “stay awhile” atmosphere and make us feel like a rat on a treadmill. For some people, the gym is all business; 30 minutes squeezed in between lunch meetings and furious blackberry emailing. For others, a body wrap and a facial are the main attractions, with a little yoga thrown in. But for those of us who take our workouts seriously,The Excelsior Athletic Club is the perfect place to train and feel like a V.I.P. There is always a friendly face to greet you during check-in. Count on a resident fitness expert to offer you new tips on how to improve your lunges; all this plus a staff who wishes you well as you leave. Sometimes, ‘See you Wednesday!’ is just the motivation you need to get your tail back into the gym — especially if the owner knows your name.

BN had the opportunity to interview The Excelsior’s owner, David Scott Cohen, and got the 411 on what makes this East Side gym such a darn ‘nice’ place to get fit.

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David Scott Cohen, Owner

BN: David, it’s great to meet you. Tell us — what is the most important differences between The Excelsior and the big name gyms throughout the city?
DSC: The biggest difference between the big corporate gyms and The Excelsior is the personal touch that we can give each member that joins our club. I know everyone’s name and they know me. Our Operations Manager, Jo Ann, is a ‘household name’ and a legend at The Excelsior. Between us, we make sure that we treat every member like family.

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BN: What types of classes do you offer? Do students just come in and follow the instructor or do they actually get some exclusive attention during class?

DSC: We offer a wide variety of classes. Whether you enjoy spinning, stretch, body sculpting, Latin dance, aqua aerobics, Pilate’s mat or yoga, you can be assured that you will get full attention and the instructor will know who you are and what your fitness goals are.

BN: How many instructors are at The Excelsior and what are their accreditations?
DSC: We have over twenty fitness and group fitness expert instructors. All of our instructors are fully accredited fitness trainers and are AED/CPR certified.

BN: What is your training background?
DSC: I have been a certified fitness trainer for over twenty years. I have trained so many different types of people; everyone from enthusiasts who discover the benefits of fitness at the age of 50 to professional body builders. I have also been the personal trainer to Oscar winning actors and CEOs of major corporations.

BN: We know that The Excelsior is a penthouse fitness club, but what are the other extra perks that come with the membership fee?

DSC: Our membership rates are very reasonable considering how much we offer our members. We practically pamper them! We provide a laundry service where we wash your gym clothes and towels for you and have them folded and back in your locker the next morning! We have amenities and toiletries in the locker rooms so you can look as great as you feel, for the rest of your day.

Our gym is state of the art. The Excelsior has a forty foot pool with a retractable roof, a twenty-five hundred square foot sundeck, and group fitness classes with no sign up, a massage therapist, a private Pilate’s studio, and strength, cardio and stretch rooms with the most updated equipment.

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BN: Why do your members renew year after year?
DSC: The number one reason we have such a high retention rate is because we truly are the gym with no attitude. That is why our members feel so comfortable training here and that is why the surrounding clubs are really not competition for us. We have been compared to the TV show Cheers…everyone is welcome. And yes, we have both a Norm and a Cliff as members.

The Excelsior Athletic Club
301 57th Street
Suite 5
New York, NY 10022
212-688-5520
For more information on this ultra-deluxe gym fiends’ dream – visit the Excelsior website at: www.excelsiorathleticclub.com

Originally published November 2007
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