By Emily J. Weitz
If you talk to anyone who has taken a session with Ari Weller at Philosofit, you’ll immediately know there’s something different about the place. A soft smile overtakes their faces, and when you mention Weller’s name, usually a sigh quickly follows. “Ari,” they say. ?Even though the equipment he uses is some of the more challenging in the business, from the self-propelled treadmill to the vertical climber, people seem to feel nurtured at the end of a session, rather than defeated. Perhaps this is due in part to the core philosophy of Philosofit, which is to allow clients to play and have fun for as long as possible. In seeking this goal, Weller instructs his clients to balance strength and flexibility.
“I’ve been a trainer for 18 years,” says Weller, “and for Philosofit I decided to take the best stuff I learned.”
He incorporates teachings from gyrotonic, Ki-Hara, neurokinetic therapy, Pilates, functional training, and heart rate training. There are six trainers on staff, many of whom have several certifications. Three focus on functional training, three are Pilates teachers, and three are gyrotonics teachers as well.
“Gyrotonics was created by a yogi and a dancer who ruined his body,” explains Weller. “It encourages flexibility and stability at the same time, which is what we all need.”
Ki-Hara is a technique Weller learned from the people who work with the US Olympic Swim Team.
“The key to their success was the openness, flexibility, and strength that Ki-Hara brings,” he says.
Core stability work, which is a focus of Pilates, is about developing the stomach, back muscles, gluts, and hip flexors, and it balances the regimen.
In an ideal session, Weller will take clients through all of these styles, though it always depends on the individual needs that that day brings. If there’s an injury or a special circumstance, the focus may be narrowed.
Weller guides clients through their exercise regimen using 100-percent green equipment. What does it mean to have green equipment?
“None of our cardio equipment plugs in,” says Weller. “Your body needs to move the machine. We have a woodway self-propelled treadmill where you burn 30 percent more calories, and you’re forced to use your glutes 40 percent more than you would on a normal treadmill to get the thing moving.”
He also has a climber, which is set up in a vertical position to access deep intrinsic core muscles. Pilates equipment like the Reformer and the half-Cadillac have their place along one wall. Rope weights and self-propelled bicycles are also set up around the perimeter of the open, inviting space at Philosofit, where a single orchid plant is the only ornamentation.
“More important than building cardiovascular strength,” says Weller, “is how quickly you can recover from the exercise. We are training our clients physiologically to take stress and recover from it. Who doesn’t need that in their life somewhere?”
That bigger question that takes clients out of the studio and into their lives is something that sets Philosofit apart, said Weller.
“Philosophy is about wisdom,” says Weller. “Here, it is wisdom as it pertains to fitness and life… My personal journey has always come through my body, through sports. The most growth I’ve had as a person are the times when I’ve been challenged. In my life, those challenges were major injuries.”
Weller said he hopes that through Philosofit, he can share the wisdom he gained before people go through major injuries.
“When I didn’t know much,” he says, “I exercised like most people. I got involved in body building, because that was the thing to do in the 80s. I got to a point where the inside of my body could no longer support what was going on on the outside. The internal stuff, the places that really matter, I hurt. For me, it was an enlightening experience, but you don’t have to wait to get into trouble to move better.”
Weller scoffs at the old saying “No pain, no gain.”
“Here,” he says, “we say ‘no gain with pain’. There are a lot of people trying to work through injuries, and what they’re doing is ignoring something that will come back to get them… This is preventative medicine. We just want to get people out there playing and having fun. Who doesn’t want to do that for as long as possible? This is all about keeping people happy, and it’s never too soon to start.”
Philosofit is located at 15 Lumber Lane in East Hampton. Call 527-5070 for more information.