Nestled amidst high standing and proud buildings downtown on Broadway Street is Equinox, a gym worthy of praise and aspiration amongst the athletically inclined. With large black flags marking its territory as if a castle or palace to those who seek its luxuries, Equinox Flatiron isn’t simply a gym, but a center of healthy lifestyle. Where one can enjoy the latest in nutritious beverages, state of the art equipment, and most notably dedicated and equally skilled staff intent on molding anyone’s bodies to conform to that of a Greek God.
I knew very little of Equinox three years ago, and my only thought was that it was a gym for one-percenters with doors that were closed to the wider public and other plebian New Yorkers. However, that changed when I started a position at the United Nations in 2016 within the security and safety section and more specifically the Aviation Risk Management Office, ARMO for short. Working with former military staff and law enforcement officers from around the world encouraged me to take my fitness more seriously (among several other reasons which I’ll get into shortly). As a UN staffer I had the luxury of accepting further luxury, a discounted membership at Equinox. But my appetite was not sated there, I went for the full all-access membership where I could enjoy locations throughout my home of Brooklyn or anywhere else in Manhattan and even those across the country for that matter.
Since 2017 I’ve visited nearly every Equinox gym in New York City, but Flatiron stands out for a number of reasons. It’s modern pristine interior set against industrial era columns and steel gives off a tantalizing feeling that you are with the elite enjoying the status as a pampered exceptional individual breaking sweat in a facility dedicated to making you feel comfortable as you attempt to strength, tone, and nurture your body. Strengthening and toning my body while enjoying a state of comfort is something I’ve sought for many years and will probably be dedicated to doing so for the years to come. With a minor cerebral palsy and scoliosis it has been my life long mission and medical requirement to seek constant exercise lest my muscles succumb to atrophy and stiffness.
But simple machines and regular exercise routines weren’t enough for me. To change oneself for the better one must seek professional consulting and counseling. And there’s no shortage of that in Equinox. During the summer of 2018 I sought two trainers at Equinox Flatiron; Robert who’s background was martial arts and strength training and Emily, a pilates instructor and professional dancer. Robert was my advisor in finding the tried and true methods of building muscles properly with aggressive weight lifting combined with short bursts in cardio that would lead to a strong and toned body. And to strengthen my core, fully stretch my limbs, and straighten my spine I was instructed in using state of the art equipment with Emily in the Pilates studio located deep in the basement of Equinox. Described as ‘medical gymnastics’ a pilates workout is perfect for improving flexibility, body alignment, and coordination. All of those are sorely needed by anyone living with CP. The exercises themselves were a gracefully yet challenging method of caring for the body’s muscles that were ignored from traditional exercise. And these were the type of techniques that were deeply needed for my body in particular. In the end my sessions with both trainers turned out to be challenging yet ultimately enhancing for the body.
To live with a serious medical condition like Cerebral Palsy is to feel vulnerable both medically and physically and that can easily lead to estrangement from wider society. The ‘wretched of the Earth’ in the modern world. So to equalize this feeling of vulnerability I sought out the best exercise facility I could find in New York City, one where I could enhance the body and feel like a member of New York’s upper crust at the same time. For over two years it has strengthened my body. While its costs are exorbitant the lasting benefits are simply too good to pass. I may stay a bit longer, depending on my financial and work situation (which may take me out of the country at some point) but for now I will enjoy the playground of the gods.