Exclusive N.Y. Gym Interviews Would-Be Members

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The New York Post


How do you own everything?

That's the aggressive question posed on the online application for Performix House, an exclusive new gym near Union Square where wannabe members must undergo a rigorous application process.

"Owning everything means 'I'm gonna go to the gym today and dominate my workout,' " the gym's high-octane founder, Matt Hesse, tells The Post. "But it's also an elevated way of saying you're taking responsibility for yourself and the achievements you want in life." While most gyms will do just about anything to get you to sign up, at Performix, you have to convince them you're worthy of being a member.

After filling out the online form — and providing an Instagram handle, of course — applicants must undergo a phone interview with their director of membership, followed by an in-person consultation with a trainer.

In a fitness-obsessed age where hoards of boutique studios offer to curate the perfect workout experience — from the design of the locker room to an instructor's playlist — Performix is taking it a step further, promising to make sure your fellow gymgoers are also top-notch.

The application process involves a review of an applicant's Instagram feed to determine if they do, in fact, own everything, says Hesse, a 40-year-old who lives in Soho, founded the nutrition product company Corr-Jensen and currently sits on Vitamin Shoppe's Wellness Council.

"We simply want to see, from a real-life feed, how they live their life," Hesse says. "[We want] people who want to live a fitness-driven lifestyle. It's as much a mentality as it is physical." Since opening membership in February, the gym has admitted 240 people out of roughly 1,000 applicants, according to Hesse.

They plan to cap membership at around 500 people. Boldfacers such as Mark Consuelos, Hannah Bronfman and Nina Agdal belong, and Hesse says creating a place where they don't have to worry about a rabid fan on the spin bike next to them is key.

"Celebrities have a tough time working out; they can't go to gyms," he says. "We try to create a place of comfort for them." The comforts include plenty of supplements. Upon entering the second-floor, 8,000-square-foot gym through a clandestine back entrance on 14th Street, members are greeted with a slushie machine serving Performix's brightly colored leucine-, isoleucine- and valine-infused "pre-training energizer" drink and a glutamine-laced "training recovery" beverage. The equipment room includes an AstroTurf area for pushing sleds and massive weights suitable for Olympic weight lifters. A recovery area features a 3-D-imaging machine that can show you where all of the fat on your body is. Overall, the space is more intimate and the vibe is edgier than your average Equinox, but it's hardly plated in gold.

"I feel a privacy that I haven't felt with other gyms," says Benjamin Thigpen, 34, a Performix member and celebrity hairstylist who lives in the Meatpacking District.

The locker rooms have various amenities — private massage rooms, infrared saunas with bigscreen TVs that stream Netflix and cryotherapy chambers, which are particularly popular for selfies — but they're not for everyone.

Membership is available in three tiers, at costs of $250, $400 and $900 per month. The lower two tiers are allowed to use a limited amount of amenities and then must pay for them a la carte, though a gym spokesperson declined to offer specifics.

But for some members, many of whom are fitness influencers, the big draw is a content studio, with lights and four cameras, where they can tape workouts and share them on social media.

"It looks like it's a set, and they can record a workout, talk to their fans about nutrition, whatever they want," Hesse says.

Another perk that Hesse touts is access to top trainers. Some of the city's popular fitness instructors, including SoulCycle's Akin Akman and Charlee Atkins, offer personal training exclusively at Performix.

"[They left] well-known personal training gyms" to bring "their clients to train solely at the House," says Madison Rizzo, the gym's senior manager of partnerships and engagement.

But, for all its talk of exclusivity, the gym does open some of its classes to nonmembers, for $24 to $40 apiece, as long as they use a different entrance — a fitness poor door of sorts — on bustling Fifth Avenue.

And Hesse says that membership isn't limited to waifish women and "super ripped" guys, though they did seem to be the only sort of people there on a recent visit.

"We have a variety of all kinds of people, but what we want to see is progress," he says. "If someone said [on their application], 'I want to own Twinkies, and I don't like to work out,' we'd either say this person really needs help, or they just want to hang out with our celebrities."

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August 14, 2018


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