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Star for a lifetime


American Idol? So passé…after all who wants to go through the trouble of a competition when the chances of being rejected greatly outweigh the chance of getting to be the next favorite star.


There is a much better way of being at the center of attention and it is easy. Focus on you! Go to the gym, work out, and see what that does for yourself, your confidence, and your attitude. Plus you will soon start looking cool!


You want to be a celebrity? Be one!  Here is a behind-the-curtain look at Equinox’s series:  My Body. My Biography. Who says you cannot create yours?




(Post by Thomai Serdari. Email us at


Balance. Core. Agility.


These are three powerful words.  Do you own them in life? Most of us think we do. Yet, the only way to realize whether we possess these traits is to actually put them to the test. In real life, this would mean facing pernicious situations. Where else can one test her person other than at the gym? The new work out presented in the video here is based on three fundamental properties we tend to take for granted. I challenge you to try these for yourself.


(Post by Thomai Serdari. Email us at:


Partners and Mentors

        My visit to the gym today reminded me of the reason why I believe our organization, Work Out Work Up Inc., is doing important work.

What is our mission? We want to find teenagers who are attending school in New York City and who would like to go to the gym to exercise but do not have the means to do so. We will try our best to match them (in terms of geography) to a gym that is near their school and that will accept them as members during after-school hours and approximately from 2 pm to 4 pm. We are also enlisting help from fitness professionals who will guide and motivate the students to work out correctly, safely, and efficiently.

Who are we? We are a team of six professionals, each one with a different career, different trajectory in life, and different daily routine. We all believe in helping others to be their best and we are all committed to making this program succeed. We see ourselves as facilitators in bringing together those who need to exercise with those who can provide the space and equipment for exercise. We are working on developing programs that will teach students the benefits of physical training both in terms of fitness, health, and well being but also in terms of developing one’s own character and confidence.

Our goal is to see these students graduating from high school healthy and full of ambition to tackle life either pursuing academics in college or finding a suitable profession where they can be successful.

        What triggered this train of thought today? As soon as I walked into my gym I saw Kelli, another trainer at Equinox, who has also been my partner (in addition to Lisa about whom I wrote yesterday). Kelli studied modern dance at UCLA and moved to New York City only a couple of years ago. She is full of energy and good humor. She radiates positive energy and taught me how to use the treadmill correctly since I am not a runner. It is thanks to her that I discovered that I could make this otherwise straightforward piece of equipment work for me. Moments later, I met Peter on the second floor. Peter was trained as a massage therapist at the Swedish Institute in New York and uses a holistic approach to teaching individuals how to train correctly for their body type. In addition, he has magic fingers that find everyone’s painful spot and treat it instantly. I don’t know how he does it, I truly believe it is magic. Peter’s energy and healing power gave me many a boost when I needed one, a few times actually during the last year and a half.

        While Lisa, Kelli, and Peter are all trainers at my gym I have a special relationship with each one of them. They are my partners and they are my mentors in teaching me how to maintain my fitness and health.

        Work Out Work Up is an organization with a similar ambition. We hope to be able to provide New York teenagers with the partners they need to learn something new about fitness. And we hope to provide them with a vast network of mentors who will also guide them in discovering themselves and their own abilities.

Post by Thomai Serdari

The language of physical training

        While I mainly work out on my own, there was a time when I decided to hire a trainer to learn how to exercise properly with free weights. Before agreeing on our partnership (because it is a partnership), what I thought I would get out of it was skills in proper form when training, since this is so important. In addition, I was hoping to learn a repertory of exercises to rely on when I work out on my own. Even though this was accomplished, I knew by the time our partnership came to an end that having a repertory is not enough by itself. One needs to know how the muscles work and how to challenge them on a regular basis with new movements and a variety of weights. I would like to return to this discussion some other time. For now it suffices to say that what I was expecting to gain by hiring a trainer was only a small percentage of the real value a good trainer brings to the table.

        Lisa, my trainer at Equinox at the time, works as a freelancer now, which is why we stopped working out together. My exercise time is limited to the time I spend at the gym and my schedule does not allow for additional training time with Lisa, which I now consider a luxury. Not that I ever took her for granted. The trainer-client relationship is already difficult because a trainer is a service provider. The service, which is of course physical training instruction, is measurable only up to a certain point. At least 50% of it has to do with the chemistry between the two parties and mainly with the importance the client places on the relationship. For many people this ends up being very complicated because they think that since they pay they are entitled to results for which, alas, they are mainly responsible. No matter how many routines the trainer develops, if the client does not pay attention and if she does not give it all her energy and focus, results will be very slow to materialize.

        My relationship with Lisa was wonderful. If she is reading this entry now I hope she agrees. Admittedly, we had a slow start because when I begin a project I want to know what to expect, what is the overall concept, what are the goals, and what is the strategy to achieve them. I like having the “big picture” first and then break it down to measurable and easy to accomplish tasks. I know that other people prefer taking it minute by minute because the “big picture” is something they cannot fathom. Be that as it may, I felt particularly challenged through my workouts with Lisa and eternally grateful to her for having pushed me to my limits. I felt the same gratitude twice a week and every time we trained together. I particularly felt it when I received a holiday card from her, six months into our partnership, in which she praised me for certain character traits I posses but also motivated me in a most personal way to keep it up.

        You may be wondering what is so special about that. Well, for those who know me it is noticeable that I don’t talk much and certainly not about personal matters, certainly not about myself. During a conversation, I am much more interested in finding out about the other person. One question that comes up therefore is how did Lisa know so much about me? The other issue to consider is that she really worked me very, very hard and even though we were doing weight training my heart rate was so high that I regularly felt out of breath and not able to keep up with any sort of lengthy conversation. This is when I realized that exercise is a form of language and that the way we perform it reveals a lot about our personality and our point of view. I also realized that Lisa was a keen observer of her clients as any good trainer should be and fluent in the language of exercise. I benefited tremendously from this relationship both on a technical level in perfecting my routine and an emotional one in connecting with my own body and challenging myself through my own self-discovery.

Post by Thomai Serdari 

Abundance in New York’s Real Estate

    Does my headline sound like a contradiction? I realize life is full of them. Do you happen to be a gym member? I am. Have you noticed the peak and valleys in members’ attendance? I have. That of course implies that I am a regular gym member so that I can observe this phenomenon throughout the year. Not that this is new. Even gym management knows about it and I would imagine, management could not care less. Why would they? The memberships are prepaid, either for the entire year or for the month. The fewer the members who come to the club the less the wear the equipment suffers.

    Tonight it hit me. There I was on my treadmill, six treadmills (yes! six treadmills) away from the next gym member during the 5:30 to 7:30 time slot that, in theory, is the busiest one. Where was everybody? The floor with the free weights was not too populated either in spite of the new rope that appeared only two weeks ago hanging from the ceiling inviting everyone to test their climbing abilities. Compared to last week’s excited chatter of the trainers and gym members who gathered around the rope in awe (and in secret hope that they could climb that rope as fast as Jack Shephard climbed out of a dark, bottomless well in LOST’s final season—if not faster), tonight’s silence, pierced by the occasional and timid “cling-cling” of the free weights used by a member on the bench next to the window facing Lexington avenue, was striking. This got me thinking.

    Since I moved to New York in 1995, I have joined several gyms. First, there was The Racquet and Health Club on 12th Street off 5th Avenue. Then, there was the NYU gym on Houston Street, followed by Lucille Roberts on 5th Avenue and 14th Street (I was very poor at the time but I thought that finding an inexpensive gym was a necessity), followed by the NYU gym on 14th Street, followed by the New York Sports Club on 14th Street, followed by Synergy in Astoria, followed by The New York Sports Club on 59th Street, to, finally, Equinox, my current haven on 63rd Street and Lexington Avenue where I have been going since 2005. So many gyms have given me such a consistent experience over the years. I am referring to the valleys of gym attendance, those long periods of time when New York gyms—built on expensive real estate—remain empty or, at the very best, so scarcely populated that the receptionist, completely exhausted by boredom is ready to hug you as soon as he swipes your membership card.

    From a financial point of view, this type of real estate is like gold. From an economic point of view however, I cannot help but think of the waste. Such an abundance of prime quality square footage goes to waste unused, deserted, silent and sad when so many who need to access it have never heard the “swoosh” of the rowing machine or the “sweesh” of the cable machine. Ah yes! Life is full of contradictions.

    Post by Thomai Serdari ( We welcome guest posts. Email us at 


One of our directors, Kristin McGee, an experienced yoga and pilates instructor who is also the creator of Bendigirl, a yoga program tailored to girls of 12 to 18 years old, frequently volunteers her time to teach young children. She offers free instruction at several places around New York City, including The Jewish Community Center at the Upper West Side and the YMCA. Both are places open to hosting programs such as ours, namely programs that cater to adolescents and that teach them how to work out and why working out is important physically and emotionally. Kristin is well sought after for her effective method of instruction. I joined one of her classes at Equinox on Prince Street and there was barely an inch of open space left. Equinox members flock to her classes that are conducted in a quiet studio, a place conducive to meditation and self-awareness. Two days later, I was thankful to her for having worked a whole group of muscles that I did not know I own.

In exactly eleven days, on September 22nd, I will be joining her at Paragon Sports, where she will teach a one-hour long free yoga class with the goal to introduce New Yorkers to the benefits of this type of exercise. I will join her as a member of the audience of course because I have only tried yoga twice in my entire life. I am a novice, in fact, a new novice if such a type exists. I am looking forward to talking with other members of the class and learning what motivates them to pick up physical exercise and whether they think they will stick to it.


Post by Thomai Serdari (We welcome guest posts. Email us at: