Have I ever told you how The Sweat Life was started?
My mom was in her second or third year of her battle with ovarian cancer, and I was juggling looking after her and freelancing in marketing and media. Two things happened during this period of time.
First, I would take my mother to her chemotherapy treatments every other week. These were excruciatingly long days (up to 13 hours) — but I had nothing to complain about, as I was not the one being hooked up to the machines and getting poison pumped through my veins! Since I was always in for the long haul, and seeing as I have always been the health-conscious woman I am now, I would bring plenty of reading material, mostly health and wellness magazines. There was one day I remember looking around the chemo suite, upwards of 20 women ranging from my age to my mother’s age (we both prefer to remain ageless!), in varying stages of disease, all there for one reason and one reason only — to fight for their lives. They not only had to mentally get through the cancer fight, but had to find all their strength to get though their chemotherapy treatment. They had to grapple with becoming frail, losing their hair, and a list of so many things most of us just take for granted. I then looked down at the cover of my magazine, which had headlines such as, “How to Get Your Best Bikini Body Ever” and “Lose 10 Pounds in a Week!” Then I looked back up at these women and thought to myself, “Who gives a shit about bikini bodies?” There was such a disconnect between what was in front of me, and what I was reading as the “leading” health messages being offered to women — I knew something had to change, and I knew I wanted to be a part of it.
The second factor that drove me towards what would become The Sweat Life was having one of my biggest accomplishments to date happen in my career — and for the first time feeling rather unfulfilled by it. I had always loved media and being creative, and helping companies grow and share their messages, but I no longer found satisfaction in growing other people’s dreams and knew it was time to start chasing my own.
Then, as so many ventures begin (or should begin), I found myself in the fall of 2012 at a Great Gatsby/Punk themed Halloween party hosted by a group of Italians who were friends of friends (because this is where all life changing events should happen), chatting with my dear friend and now Sweat Life Video Director, Lacy Wittman. We were sharing career war stories, as she had recently departed from her long-time position as the Post Production Supervisor at College Humor and was now figuring out what was next; and I was still figuring out how I was going to convince the masses that they needed to lead healthier lives. It then dawned on me that I had an idea the week prior that may just interest Lacy!
I was trying to explain the difference between two very popular, but very different spinning studios to a friend of mine. While I pride myself on my ability to communicate clearly, for some reason he just wasn’t getting it. After a few minutes of clearly wasting my breath, I decided it would just be easier to SHOW him these classes, rather than try to explain. So I whipped out my phone and started Googling. Much to my surprise I found VERY little (read: practically nothing) that accurately showed the experience of either of these classes, and then the light bulb went on. Ten years of production and media experience and a passion for health and fitness…“Um, I should create this!”
So I pitched the idea to Lacy (an avid runner and brilliant director) who was immediately on board. A week later, we had our Director of Photography Ryan Stumpe. A week after that we were off to shoot our promo, and I was getting pitch materials together to get a gym or studio to agree to be our guinea pigs.
I had already frequented the Fhitting Room and decided this was the perfect test case — it was one of the best workouts I had even gotten, yet seemed to be flying under the radar tucked away on 80th and Lexington. More people had to know about this place, and I wanted to show them! I emailed founder/owner Kari Saitowitz to pitch the initial idea, and hoped for a meeting. I had a clear vision for The Sweat Life (then called The Fit List), but it didn’t actually exist yet, nobody had heard about it, and I certainly hadn’t tried to explain it to anyone outside of Ryan and Lacy. It took me over an hour to write my first email about what we were setting out to do, explaining what the company would be — I was equally nervous AND excited when I finally pressed send. And then elated when Kari wrote back, saying she would love to meet with us that week to discuss the possibility of shooting.
Lacy and I prepared to head into our first pitch meeting — again, both excited and nervous. I won’t go through the details, but in the end, Kari agreed to take a chance on us and let us film a class at the Fhitting Room. It was that moment, and her belief in us, that has so very much to do with where we are today!
So I couldn’t be more excited to offer even a bit of the support back, in showing off the opening of their much-anticipated second location: The Fhitting Room Flatiron! This week you will learn all about their amazing new digs, and you can check out a video interview I did with Kari and Jess (the co-founders) during our initial shoot — that we decided to pull out of the archives, dust off, and show you this week. We are even hosting a special Sweat Life reader class at the Fhitting Room on Thursday evening, which we just can’t wait for!
In the spirit of Growth and Expansion, Dara Godfrey from Body by Simone clues us in to the 7 new health food trends we need to know for 2015; Barry’s Bootcamp trainer Matty Maggiacomo tells his story of growing into fitness and his career; and workout-wear brand Zara Terez shares how they grew from leather handbags to outfitting fitness-goers all over NYC and beyond.
So enjoy this week dedicated to the Fhitting Room, to following your dreams, and to always striving to grow yourself, your life, and your goals!
Until next week,
Founder, CEO, and Host
The Sweat Life