By Kim Manocherian and April Reigler
New York Health and Racquet Club, founded in 1973, is still to this day a family-owned business. With nine locations in NYC, they are most proud of their community feel, while still offering a luxury Manhattan gym that reflects the energy and culture of the city. NYHRC is also committed to giving back to the community they’ve welcomed for over 40 years, raising scholarship funds at the Armory Track in Washington Heights each year, for teens who might not be able to otherwise attend college.
What exactly is the Armory Track, and how did NYHRC partner with this foundation?
The Armory Track is the fastest and busiest indoor track & field center in the United States. They host over 100 meets per season and welcome over 125,000 athletes, of all ages and levels, to practice and compete in this famed arena.
The two organizations became linked in 2013 when Kim Manocherian, CEO of New York Health and Racquet Club, mentioned to the Chair of the Armory’s Board, Mike Frankfurt, also a longtime friend, that she would like to create a relationship supporting under-served young runners' quests to go to college.
Why is it so important to the club to have a charity to give back to?
NYHRC is a New York institution and deeply believes in giving back to the community it serves. For 41 years, since its founding, NYHRC has had a spirit of giving back to the New York community. Beyond the relationship with The Armory, NYHRC also is the “Official Health Club of the American Heart Association in New York City,” and supports many of their programs, including Go Red Day and their annual 5K walk/run. NYHRC also has supported New York Cares Sandy Relief and their annual Coat Drive. On a regular basis, NYHRC donates space to non-profits for fitness events, and memberships for charity auctions and raffles.
The club is a sponsor of the “Apply Yourself” program for the Armory, covering application fees for kids applying to colleges. Why do you think this is so important?
Going into its third consecutive year, NYHRC’s support for the "Apply Yourself" program has covered over 1,000 college application fees, for hundreds of young deserving students. NYHRC wants to support New Yorkers, especially our budding young athletes and scholars. Community is a core value at NYHRC and these students are part of it.
What other programs is the club involved with at the Armory?
NYHRC has donated a series of yoga classes to the Armory for events called “Yoga for Runners,” and plans to repeat the donation again this year.
And you also offer the Armory teens options for part-time jobs at the club to boost their resumes?
Yes! NYHRC hires the students for part-time jobs in our clubs to help them get job experience and save money for college. Plus, as a benefit with their job, they get to work out in our facilities.
Do you think fitness and education for kids and teens are linked? Do you think they both tie into self esteem?
Track students in the NYC Public Schools are awarded more scholarship dollars than any other sports teams. The lessons that are learned on the track - discipline, dedication, and determination - are lifelong lessons that benefit them forever. These skills are easily transferable to their pursuit of education, and eventually, when seeking to develop a career.
Can you share an inspirational story that has come out of your work with Armory?
Sally Dunn has achieved a 93 average in the honors program at High School for Medical Science. She has one of the highest SAT scores in Armory College Prep (ACP) history. Her mother raised her alone, while working full-time as a home attendant supervisor. Sally overcame a speech and learning disability by 8th grade, and discovered her love for literature. While at ACP over the past three years, she has read over 40 novels from the "great books" canon. She has performed in two ACP theatrical showcases, even writing her own monologues. Her gifts and accomplishments are extraordinary in the humanities. Sally has applied to a number of very competitive schools, and has received acceptances at two already, and is only 16 years old!
And NYHRC is family-owned, correct?
NYHRC is family owned and operated, and has been since the day it opened its doors in 1973. The current CEO is the founder’s daughter, Kim Manocherian, and her son is also part of the company, working on the marketing team.
Any other advice, or final words you would like to share with readers?
The staff at the Armory deeply cares for these kids, and their caring is contagious. Getting to know their humble team, who have the kids’ best interest always in sight, is an inspiration to us. They are creative, and always pushing to forward their work for the benefit of their students.
On January 19th, NYHRC hosted a 25,000 burpee fitness fundraiser challenge, with the goal to raise 25,000 burpees, and NYHRC gave $25,000 to the Armory’s College Prep program in exchange. Club members donate the fitness, NYHRC donates the cash. Everyone wins.
Kim Manocherian is President and CEO of New York Health and Racquet Club, an iconic New York brand and institution. Upon its founding in 1973 by her father Fraydun Manocherian, Kim became one of NYHRC's first members, and has held numerous operational and management positions throughout its 41-year history.