In New York’s trendy Soho neighbourhood, there’s an unassuming building on Grand Street that says “by appointment only.”
It bears Nike’s signature check mark.
Welcome to 45 Grand, Nike’s exclusive, invite-only gym. Models like Karlie Kloss have worked out here.
Nike says that influencers and active Nike Plus members are invited to join world class trainers on personal “journeys,” where trainers construct workouts designed to meet each individual’s needs.
Nike invited Business Insider to check out the facilities, and even let me get a gruelling personalised workout.
It’s tough to get an invite, but you can get a firsthand look here.
Here we are -- at 45 Grand in Soho. For a few hours, I get to be around the energy of the elite! (The gym was empty, aside from a few employees.)
Nike's 45 Grand is dedicated to women's fitness. It aims to show off what Nike does best. The whole 'just do it' philosophy is extremely present here.
The space functions as both a gym and an event space. In October, Nike held its spring/summer 2016 preview here. From a business perspective, it's a natural extension of Nike's core apparel brand. Nike makes technologically advanced apparel, so it has to demonstrate how it works somehow. The brand calls it an 'elevated space' -- consider it an elite showroom of sorts.
Of course, there's plenty of Nike apparel on display -- but Nike maintains that this space is about demonstrating how the brand is about more than just clothing.
There's a swanky lounge for before or after your workout. You can sit where Karlie Kloss and other models have gone.
They're really focused on the 'personal journey' here. I explain that I have a wedding coming up in a little less than a year, and that I have some fitness goals I'd like to meet.
Classes are offered at 45 Grand, including a class with New York's Tone House (reportedly the hardest workout around). Nike Run Club also operates out of the building.
How do you get invited? You have to be an 'influencer' as Nike puts it -- or you have to be an extremely active member of the Nike Plus community.
Even the bathroom makes guests feel glamorous. (If celebrities and models work out here, it sort of seems like a requisite that the gym smells nice.)
There's a stage with Nike women's current campaign phrase -- '#BetterForIt.' I tell myself I will be 'better for it' after my training session.
I look around the space and see plenty of equipment -- bands, weights, kettlebells, and more. I can tell I'll be in for some circuits.
This is Joe Holder, one of Nike's Nike+ Training Club trainers and one of the company's Run Club coaches. He's going to whip my bird arms into shape. I know I'm in good cardio shape, but strength training has never been my forte. I'm about to face the music.
First, he does an analysis of my movement. This is the crux of Nike's training programs. 'We look at you from a very individualistic perspective, and say 'how can we help you improve?' Holder said to me. It turns out I have some wonky hip adductors, weak glutes, and super-weak abs. Holder says we're gonna wake them up! He's super positive, and he doesn't let me beat myself up, something I am prone to doing.
We go through a warm-up, which Holder says is crucial. If you don't warm up certain muscles, you end up working your dominant muscles and not the ones that need the attention, he later informed me. The warm-up goes on for a while -- squats, kicks, push-ups, balance exercises, and more. I realise that I probably don't warm up nearly enough when I work out.
After a bunch of ab work, push-ups, glute work, hydrants, bridges, and more, we move on to circuits. In the first circuit, we do a series of lunges. Apparently, I've been doing lunges wrong my whole life. Holder pays a lot of attention to my form. Having the right form is absolutely crucial. I thought lunges were easy ... until this moment.
Then I do some chest presses lying down while pushing out my feet. It's followed by a series of kettlebell swings. You can see the exhaustion in my eyes. (We then did it two more times, and increased the weight.)
Time for another circuit! This circuit includes bridges with a resistance band pressing down on me. I thought I knew how to do these ... but you don't know what a bridge is like until you've had a Nike trainer push you. I later do bridges with a block under my lower back, while doing pulses against the resistance band.
Then we do ball slams and sashay in a squat position between two points. Every time we repeat the circuit, Holder ups the reps for the slams. I'm told to engage my core as much as possible and to slam with as much power as I possibly can. I conjure up my inner superhero, and we repeat the circuit for a total of three times.
And after about an hour of working out and a stretch -- where I discover I have outrageously tight hips -- I'm done! I did it! That smile is masking the pain! (I was totally sore the next day -- and the day after.)
Although the workout I did might not seem 'difficult' to exercise enthusiasts, having someone pay such close attention to your form forces you to activate muscles you might have not been actively training. I've never had someone zero in on my toes when I have done lunges. The attention to detail made me feel like a celebrity. Things I thought were simple are challenging when they're done correctly!
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