For years, the best-kept secret among New York City’s busiest and most beautiful people has been the 30-minute workout—a once-a-week, sweat-free mini-session with personal trainer Jim Clarry who regularly lures designers, gallerists, celebrities, and many a Vogue editor uptown. An outspoken opponent of over-exercising, Clarry has made a career out of the understanding that if all you have to spare is half an hour, he will make it count. And if that sounds too good to be true, as of today, you can try it for yourself. His less-is-more fitness studio, Persevera, is now within reach of the downtown set, thanks to Clarry’s expansion to the Flatiron’s SkyHealth club—and available to the world at large with the online debut of Anywhere, Persevera’s interactive one-on-one virtual training.
Each tailored regimen is designed to build strength because, as Clarry explains, “leanness is a ratio of muscle tissue to fat tissue.” This is achieved through 10 exercises performed very slowly with few repetitions, focusing on what he refers to as “the negatives,” which are the resistance half of familiar gym moves (think chest press, leg press, dead lift, rowing) on a machine. Instead of pushing up or out, you begin each exercise in the extended position, and then resist returning back to your body’s resting state over a count of 10 seconds with the added challenge of heavy weights. The idea, Clarry says, is that “if a muscle is lengthening under tension, it can produce more force.”
That force can withstand more weight than you would be able to while you’re extending, and it’s also less dangerous than lifting a moderate weight, wherein your body might squirm to get the most leverage. “You can’t cheat the exercise when you’re yielding to a load,” explains Clarry of the body’s ability to maintain proper form during the slow movements, which are also safer for your tendons. Because of the additional force of heavy weights, microscopic trauma occurs on the muscles in just a few repetitions, allowing them to strengthen without bulking. And even better, a new machine, the ARX (Adaptive Resistance Exercise), can be preprogramed for personalized speed and resistance settings while it tracks your effort.
The negative work is counterbalanced with a regimen of Kaatsu—a training program that puts pressure bands around the limbs you’re working out to restrict blood flow. “The body has to work harder because waste products like lactic acid are building up, so you reach momentary muscular failure quicker and deeper,” says Clarry. Or, in layman’s terms, you can do more by working out less. Further still, “lactic acid levels become much higher because it gets trapped in the muscle, and it signals the brain to tell the pituitary gland to release growth hormones—which liberate fat from storage,” and also trigger a number of reparative reactions without ever causing injury. And these qualities give Kaatsu a reputation as an anti-aging tactic, not just as a fitness strategy.
While Clarry might prefer to meet with his clients a few times a week, he notes that 30 minutes once a week is enough to see a spike in strength and a favorable shift in form—and to make the body crave more activity naturally. In other words, it’s a win-win.
Studio Persevera, multiple locations, New York City;
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