A Gym for the Captains of Industry

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There is an under-the-radar gym on the Lower-Upper East Side that's attracting all sorts of boldfaced names from the business and financial world. (Under the radar until this weekend's New York Times article, that is.) Imagine treadmilling next to David Geffen; sweating on the elliptical as George Soros patiently waits his turn; or planking your heart out in a battle to the pain with James D. Robinson III. Not to mention partaking in all the wheeling and dealing that goes down in the locker room! Nonetheless, the owner of Sitaras Fitness, 39-year-old bodybuilder John Sitaras, who's been dubbed "a doctor of fitness" by former GE head Jack Welch, seems to take a particularly sane, if meticulous, view of fitness for the upper echelons of Wall Street who visit him regularly. "All clients must commit to at least two personal training sessions a week," writes Janet Morrissey. "Each of their workouts is tracked and monitored, and the program is adjusted as fitness improves."

In fact, perhaps the greatest learning to glean from the piece is that corporate gym rats are just like us: Sometimes they don't like each other, and Sitaras has to juggle schedules to make sure they don't end up sharing space on the floor. Word of mouth is important in recruiting new people to the gym (Soros brought on former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volker as a member). And often, the members can't help getting a little braggy about what they can do: 

Bill Zabel, 75, a lawyer and founding partner of Schulte Roth & Zabel, long claimed the center’s record for holding the plank, an exercise that challenges the abdomen and back, and would sidle over to Mr. Sitaras whenever he was assessing a new client to see if his record had been broken, Mr. Sitaras recalls.

Then there’s James D. Robinson III, co-founder of the RRE Ventures investment firm and former chairman of American Express. Mr. Robinson, 76, can leg-press 900 pounds, leaving fellow gym members in awe. “I wanted to do 1,000, but they wouldn’t let me,” he says.

Another key learning that holds true in all gyms: No one likes a guy who acts like he owns the place. Sitaras recalled one member who, "used to snap his fingers, insisting that the background music be changed to classical when he arrived and demanding access to certain equipment immediately, even if someone else was using it." He was kicked out. Bad gym behavior is bad gym behavior, after all.

Image via Shutterstock by Kzenon.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.