Health & Fitness

By Susan Romero

Have you ever walked into a room and instantly fallen in love with the décor? I did when I first saw Studio 26, the brand new eco-friendly exercise studio in Chelsea. I confess that the “green” aspect is not what impressed me as much as just how fabulous the space looks. Of course, the workout is what matters, not what a space looks like, but why not have it all?

Studio 26 really does have it all – an aesthetically pleasing environment and a variety of trainers who will give you a tailor made workout guaranteed to tone muscles you forgot you had. There are so many gym options in New York City it can be hard to stand out, but Studio 26 just has a different vibe. It also offers a variety of wellness services, including massage, acupuncture, nutrition consultations and physical therapy.

“It’s all about being pro-active with your body,” said Jared Kaplan, co-founder of Studio 26. “If you don’t have your health you don’t have anything.” Health and wellness are integral to the Studio 26 model. Jared and co-founder, Whitney Rippelmeyer-Tucker, opened the studio nine months ago. They each have backgrounds as professional dancers and extensive experience in physical fitness. Both are graduates of the Kane School of Core Integration and are certified Pilates teachers. Their wealth of experience made opening up their own studio only natural.

As a personal trainer, Jared grew disenchanted with gyms he worked with because they focused on volume of clients and not the quality of service. He partnered with Whitney and they envisioned a unique model based upon sustainability. Not only is it the ultimate eco-friendly space, Studio 26 is also trainer-friendly. They have their own core trainers, however, independent personal trainers can also rent space to train their own clients. “Everyone wins,” said Jared.

Designed by Nathan Thomas, the winner of season two of Bravo TV’s “Top Design,” the space is built entirely with green materials, including, bamboo flooring, walls and furniture made of 107 year-old wood, a green wall made with individual plants growing from it, and other walls made with bamboo pulp. There is only natural light in the space that emanates from skylights throughout the studio. Even the cardio equipment runs without electricity.

The environment is ultra Zen, but don’t get the idea that the workout is easy. Although I must say that Kaplan makes his sessions fun, and they are perfectly tailored to each client’s needs, the sessions are focused and intense. How did he know I never work on my quads? Jared gave me a great combination of upper and lower body toning which is what I wanted. The workout included Pilates on the Reformer and the Wunda Chair. Kaplan also introduced me to some new equipment called the TRX Suspension Trainer, which consists of two elastic straps with handles that are used to create resistance with your own bodyweight. I was surprised at how effective the TRX bands were for both upper and lower body exercises.

My session with Jared made me re-think my impression of having a personal trainer. Maybe it’s not just a frivolous perk for the rich and famous. Kaplan agrees that is what a lot of people think about having a personal trainer yet, he said, “Everyone wants a trainer.” If the cost is a factor, Jared said they have options where two people can work together with one trainer.

That is the beauty of Studio 26; you can tailor your fitness goals to your own needs rather than using a one-size fits all approach. It really is one stop shopping for health and wellness where the sky is the limit on what you can do. In the end, it really gives you more bang for the buck, and you can do it in a great environment.

Check out the Studio 26 website at http://www.studio26nyc.com, or call them at 646-755-8125. Better yet, visit the space at 250 West 26th Street, 4th floor.

Originally published April 2011
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