Thinking Big By Shopping Small, SoHo Strength Lab

When we were younger, we were always told to think big; we’re still told that. Sometimes, though, big ideas come in small packages – and our partner American Express agrees. Over the next few weeks, we’re focused on featuring bespoke fitness destinations throughout New York that encourage us to go big, but Shop Small®. As we said recently – strong is the new skinny – so fitness and wellness has become a 360-degree experience, and the branding and lifestyle of that experience is everything. What you put inside your body is as important as what you’re doing at the gym, what you’re applying at night, what mantra you wake up with every morning, and even the splurges you’re allowing yourself to keep you sane. So go ahead, dream big by thinking small. 

Being an athlete is officially in with SoHo Strength Lab (SSL). This is the boutique fitness studio where the staff is a curated group of former Olympians and collegiate athletes, and where there’s indoor turf, climbing ropes and gymnastic rings. I mean seriously, gym class just got cool again.

Co-founder Andy Speer understands that shopping small in the fitness business can be a bit like customizing an outfit, meal or beauty routine: It’s both personalized and rewarding. The studio is a testament to a favorite maxim of ours – strong is the new skinny – because at SSL, strength is the number one priority (the lifestyle of strength that is not just about muscle mass). We chatted with Speer about proteins, small businesses and one’s personal version of strength…

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What would an ideal food day be, from start to finish, for a SoHo Strength Lab customer looking for the best results?

Breakfast:

Coffee or tea or green juice (no fruit)

1-2 eggs

or

Coffee/tea only and fast until noon

Lunch:

Salad with lean protein – Chicken or fish

Dinner:

Protein – Grass-fed (or lean beef) or chicken or fish

Vegetables – Grilled or steamed

Carbohydrates (if necessary) – Sweet potato/squash, white rice, quinoa

How is SoHo Strength Lab different than all other gyms?

Facility – SSL is unique and innovative in design. One of the first of its kind in Manhattan to incorporate turf, Olympic platforms, climbing ropes, gymnastics rings, and Woodway Curve treadmill in a boutique setting.

Attitude – As former collegiate athletes, we know what it means to work hard. We also know how to make you work hard in a stimulating, challenging and fun environment. We are professional, but not stuffy. We are tough, but fun.

Application – Cool equipment in an amazing training space is useless if you don’t know how to use it. Our training team comes from a variety of backgrounds including track and field, gymnastics, football, and power lifting, Olympic lifting and dance. This experience along with years of practical application on the training floor gives SSL clients the best training experience possible, whatever their goals are.

How do you personally practice beauty from the inside out? 

I do my best to eat whole clean foods. I do eat carbohydrates (a decent amount as I need the energy with my lifestyle). I get plenty of protein via meats and eggs and whey supplement like Source Organic Whey. And lots of vegetables, mostly at dinner when I have a chance to actually sit and eat. I drink Juice Press Gravity during the day; it’s my favorite green juice.

Water is crucial. I try to drink two liters a day, although that doesn’t always happen.

Mixing my training between traditional strength training, Kettle bell, gymnastics, and Muay Thai kickboxing keeps my mind and body fresh. Challenging not only the physical, but also the mental connection is crucial to staying beautiful inside and out.

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The biggest working out faux pas and why…

The biggest workout faux pas is doing too much ‘cardio’ and not enough resistance training. Cardiovascular health is vital to all around health, however most ‘cardio’ as we think of it involves high repetitions of the same movement i.e. spinning and running.

These are fine to do, but if you don’t supplement with some type of resistance whether it be traditional weights, kettle bells, or body weight (TRX/gymnastics etc.) you will get injured and your physique will not live up to its potential.

Not having fun is another big workout faux pas. Dreading your training can be counter productive. Doing the same thing over and over drains your body and mind. Having a set routine is important, it keeps you accountable. But having variety within that routine is vital. Also, learning a new skill like boxing or new moves of body weight training has a positive effect.

When it comes to the fitness business, can smaller be better? Why? 

Smaller can definitely be better in the fitness business. Starting small gives the business the ability to be creative, and design a technique and/or system specifically suited to their strengths. Working with your strengths allows you to give your best service to your clients, without being held back by corporate regulations you may not believe in.

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What does ‘bespoke fitness’ mean to you?

Fitness for you specifically; it’s custom design. It could be a personal trainer designing your program or a fitness concierge designing your weekly class schedule.

What does the phrase ‘Shop Small’ personally mean to you? How can it apply to health and wellness?

Shop Small means someone’s passion put into business. Most small businesses grow from a passion or desire into a business. From fitness to flowers.

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Words to work out by…

Fun

Goal

Intensity

Freedom

Three ingredients that will make you stronger and why…

1) Eggs (organic) – Fat and protein.

2) Steak (grass-fed) – Lean protein and creatine.

3) Greens – Eat your vegetables. All dark leafy or colorful veggies.

Drink lots of water, lift weights and you will be strong and lean!

People are saying strong is the new skinny, do you agree with that? Why? 

Yes! Our intention with naming SoHo Strength Lab was to help our members gain strength in the gym that would carry over to every aspect of their lives. Overcoming perceived physical limitations is one of the best ways to increase self-esteem and confidence in a person. There are so many ways to define strength, and that is a great thing – it’s personal.

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What foods should you be eating before and after workouts? Why?

Protein is key. 10-20g before training is ideal. Two eggs, low fat Greek yogurt. Or fast before; as long as you have enough energy, it’s a great option.

Afterwards, I like a shake with 20-30g of protein and 10-50g of carbohydrates (10 for weight loss, 50 for muscle gain).

I like Source Organic Whey with either water or milk and a scoop of organic strawberry jam.

Most rewarding experience with a SoHo Strength Lab customer during your career thus far…

Wow…So many. I honestly can’t single one out. Every day is a reward. I look around the gym floor and see clients leaner, stronger, and happier. It’s a cumulative effect. It’s why we are in this business in the first place. Guiding and promoting health, growth and achievement through physical fitness gives me, and every one of our trainers here at SSL, such satisfaction.

In the same vein as ‘what is the new black’ in fashion, what’s ‘the new potato’ in terms of health and fitness? 

The new potato is unique boutique fitness. It really allows for variety and community in the fitness industry.

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This post is in partnership with American Express – committed to connecting small merchants to more customers through the Shop Small® movement. Are you a small business owner? Learn about the value of accepting American Express Cards here.

*Read about modelFIT, another favorite boutique fitness studio, here.