Co-founded in 1994 by former number one middleweight boxer, Michael Olajide, and Leila Fazel, a former ballerina, Aerospace claims to offer “a revolutionary new fitness that engages body, mind, and spirit. ” Leila explained that the Aerospace workout is “revolutionary” in two ways: first, it does not involve any machines, and second, it has its foundation in athlete-level boxing to engage cardio, muscle endurance, and core strength. The company has its own boxing ring and jump rope line. We had the pleasure of seeing Michael, who lost vision in one of his eyes in the early 1990s, guide a student through some boxing combinations as part of the Aerospace workout. Although Michael and Leila intend to maintain the “authenticity of boxing” in their program, Aerospace is open to everyone, with or without boxing experience. While some learn to hit bags on the second floor, others in a more advanced program spar in the boxing ring on the first floor. Leila also runs a workout that combines shadow boxing with ballet.
Prior to attending a class at Row House on 23rd Street, Jenna's rowing experience consisted of futzing around on her gym’s machine and barely breaking a sweat. After one class, she told me that she now knows how to properly use a row machine, how to make the most out of her time on it, and how to have fun doing it. The studio, conveniently located less than a block from the C, E, and 1 trains, is sporty, chic, and comfortable. Free lockers are available, towels are provided, filtered water is ready to be streamed into a rower’s reusable bottle, and plastic bottles are available for purchase, just in case. Construction was completed to accommodate its fall of 2015 opening, so the bathrooms and showers are pristine and the work-out room is decked out with strong air-conditioning, a sound system, and, most importantly, brand new rowing machines begging to be used. (Jenna said that she noticed that when the machines are in full swing, they actually sound a bit like paddles in water, which made for a relaxing, meditative experience, something she did not expect from such an intense work out. ) In the spring of 2016, the space’s back patio will be available for pre or post-class stretching, relaxation, and sunning. Jenna's instructor, Gretchen - who also teaches at Row House’s other two locations - was confident, skilled, and helpful. She coached everyone on proper form and what all the numbers on the machine’s screens meant. After about fifteen minutes on the row machine, Gretchen had the class on their feet, doing squats, lunges, planks, and a few other muscle building moves. Then it was back to the machine for more rowing, followed by a cool down session of stretching. All in all, Jenna felt like the forty-five minute class gave her a full work out, hit muscles she might not have normally paid much attention to, and was varied enough to keep her interested. Gretchen’s music choices and very positive attitude did not hurt either. Needless to say, I was thrilled that a member of the Manhattan Sideways team got to discover this new form of exercise and I have no doubt that Jenna will return, as it is only a few steps from where she lives.
Jared Kaplan strongly believes that while how you work out is important, where you work out is equally – if not more – important. This is why he created Arrive (formerly Studio 26), a lovingly-designed gym with a clean and refreshing ambience, filled with plant life and eco-friendly equipment. Jared calls himself a “native New York City boy. ” He worked for many years as a dancer before becoming a pilates instructor and personal trainer, a shift that he said “evolved organically. ” After many years of training and studying his body, it was only natural to take that training into a health and wellness field. For many of his years as a dancer, Jared prided himself on having never been to a gym. However, after an injury, a physical therapist referred him to Pilates. His exploration of physical training continued when he got involved in more demanding choreography, which required him to do weight training at the gym. He eventually became an instructor, working at studios throughout New York. When Jared retired from dancing, he redirected his creative spirit into establishing Arrive, his own space. Chelsea seemed like the perfect place, both because Jared’s client base was there and because people choose gyms and studios based on a sense of community – and he saw Chelsea as an amazing, vibrant neighborhood. It also helps that the Highline is nearby, a space designed using the same principles that Jared holds dear. Upon walking into Arrive, which was built in 2010 and expanded in 2016, the first thing I noticed was the amount of natural light and the plant wall mounted behind the receptionist’s desk. Jared believes strongly in having plant-life in the workspace in order to provide “a psychological and aesthetic trigger for wellness. ” His green thumb started in high school when he took a job with a landscape designer in order to get out of the city and “see nature. ” The specific idea for the green wall, however, was inspired by Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things, by Michael Braungart and William McDonough, and from the work of Patrick Blanc, father of the modern green wall. The result is a unique, comforting space in the middle of Manhattan. Jared was pleased that even a few years after opening, “People still walk in and feel like they’ve discovered something. Their mouths go ‘wow. ’”In addition to the calming and beautiful environment that Jared has created, Arrive stands out because it is composed of a network of independent instructors with equally independent clients. There are no members and each instructor is free to manage their own schedule and style. The studio provides a support system and helps each trainer with the business side of things, but otherwise keeps things simple. As Jared put it, “We’re taking the pressure off and giving fitness professionals a platform to develop relationships. ” These strong relationships are not only formed between instructors and clients, but between the team members at Arrive. Jared has a lot of faith in everyone who works at the studio, which includes physical therapists, massage therapists, pilates and personal trainers. Even though I spoke to Jared only a short time after he had expanded Arrive, in the summer of 2016, he was already looking to the future. He said that the endless possibilities available to him are what let him sleep at night. “I’m really excited for what we haven’t gotten to yet. ”
As of March 2022, Eataly's rooftop bar Birreria has been turned into the pop-up SERRA. The rooftop of Eataly changes its concept each season. In 2016, for example, the sky-high spot transitioned from the beer-centric Birreria to a sea-side-themed rooftop bar called Sabbia. Each reincarnation of the bar is equally impressive, which comes as no surprise after visiting Eataly downstairs. Birreria was a sky-high brewery where Fred Avila, the head brewer, created beer in-house for three or four days out of every week. I had the pleasure of sitting down with Fred and talking to him about his experience brewing above Eataly’s impressive food palace. Fred has been working for Eataly since 2011, but he started home-brewing in 2007. He has become a master at blending different flavors together and was proud to tell me about Birreria’s two seasonal beers. Vera is a summery beer with hints of lavender and blood orange, whereas the Wanda is a dark, mild beer for the fall and winter, with a lightly roasted flavor. Fred is very attuned to the weather when he drinks beer. When I asked if he has a favorite, he said that it changes with the seasons and the forecast, though he did admit, “I love to drink Oktoberfest beers. ” He featured obscure sours and saisons (pale ales specifically brewed for warm weather) in the summertime and interesting stouts in the fall. “People used to just drink IPAs or Pilsners, ” he explained to me. It is clear that working in the beer world has become considerably more exciting. Birreria collaborated with a collection of external breweries, including Dogfish Head, a microbrewery based out of Delaware. Because Birreria was part of Eataly, the list of collaborators also included two Italian companies, Birra del Borgo and Baladin. The founder of Baladin, Teo Musso, is considered the “godfather of the Italian brewing movement, ” Fred informed me. He also let me know that he always liked to have one or two New York beers available. The food menu was no less impressive, especially since it was made entirely using produce from downstairs. Unlike other parts of Eataly, however, Birreria often strayed from Italian cuisine. For example, Fred told me about a mozzarella-stuffed quail, which sounds more Northern European than Italian. Everything on the menu was designed to pair well with the bar’s unique selection of beers, creating a perfect culinary balance. I visited Sabbia shortly after it opened in 2016. It was like a taste of the tropical seaside in the middle of Manhattan: Imagine listening to the Beach Boys and sipping on one of their signature summer cocktails while lounging on a beach chair in the cabanas. The menu is filled with seafood specials that continue the seaside resort theme. It is the perfect summer spot for those who cannot leave town, and there is a retractable roof for rainy nights.
Stepping out of the culinary carnival in the main Eataly building through the side street entrance of the calm, cool wine shop next door was a soothing experience. The space is primarily filled with Italian wines, though there is a selection of local New York varieties upstairs. Also on the second floor is the “Riserva Room, ” a temperature-controlled chamber with rare wines, mainly acquired through auctions. What surprised me about the Riserva Room, however, is that the bottles are not very expensive. Despite feeling the need to whisper inside the elegant space, I noticed that many tags quoted prices under $100. We learned from Brianna Buford, the PR Assistant, that this is so that customers do not feel intimidated to try new wines. As with the rest of Eataly, Vino is dedicated to educating the public about the quality, origin, and uses of its products. There are helpful signs in the area and tastings every week. “Staff Pick” signs give shoppers individual recommendations and there are often fun promotions whose goal is to introduce customers to new labels. For example, in 2015, the wine store hid golden corks all over Eataly, offering anyone who found one a special bottle of Vino Libero. “Vino Libero” means “free the wine, ” a motto which seems to ring true throughout the store, where wine is freed from any pretension or intimidation and presented in a playful, educational way.
Many months ago, I gathered a group of friends and family to celebrate my husband's birthday. No one had ever been to Spin, so it was the perfect opportunity for everyone to have a terrific night taking turns playing a sport most of us adore, and sharing in conversation, drinks and appetizers. As we walked down the steps into the dimly lit lobby we were greeted by a friendly hostess in a chic black outfit, and it felt as though we had entered any other swanky Manhattan club. And yet, as we turned the corner we saw immediately that this was not the case. Instead of the usual dance-filled floor, at this club we were presented with rows of ping-pong tables and couples in heated competition. The diversity of the crowd was vast and only became more so as the night went on. Businessmen off from work, their white collared shirts glowing in the black light, rallied next to serious athletes there for a workout in gym shorts and sweatbands. Young couples looking for a quirky date played next to groups of older friends there to enjoy the nostalgia of this classic game. Everyone is welcome at Spin. Serious ping pong players make the circuits, challenging worthy opponents to games while casual paddlers compete in a more leisurely game. It has never been easier to enjoy ping pong, as Spin has eliminated the frustrating need for constantly picking up stray balls - staff with fascinating contraptions collect all the balls and reload the buckets regularly. Perhaps even more exciting, servers come by to the tables with what could be described as high-class bar food - some of our favorites were the alcoholic mango slushies, the fried rice balls, and the truffle mac and cheese. The delicious food and drink are honestly worth a visit on their own, and as the club often hosts championship ping pong games, even those who do not want to grab a paddle themselves can fill up a plate and watch the action. Originally opened by ping pong enthusiasts Franck Raharinosy, Andrew Gordon, Jonathan Bricklin and Oscar-winning actress Susan Sarandon, Spin has quickly become a hot spot both in other parts of the US and abroad.
Visions provides services for the blind and visually impaired; it is located in Selis Manor, a twelve-story apartment building dedicated to housing and assisting blind and otherwise handicapped New Yorkers of all types. Visions holds braille courses, exercise and rehabilitation classes, music programs, and various events and lectures.