#throwbackthursday: Soho Sweat Scene And ‘Plus One Fitness’!
Written By: Mike Creamer, Owner, Anatomically Correct Personal Training
Before there was Equinox, SoulCycle and Barry’s Bootcamp there was Plus One Fitness. Anyone who lived or worked in Soho in the 80s and 90s may remember the mysterious street level workout space on Prince street between Broadway and Crosby, currently the Equinox Soho pro shop and juice bar. Walking by the big windows with the translucent curtains you couldn’t help but faintly notice the bodies and exercise machines and the absence of any street signage.
What you may not have known is that behind the curtains was one of New York’s original and most exclusive personal training gyms where an A-list of celebrity clients that included Madonna, Cher, Glenn Close, Joel Grey, John Kennedy Jnr. and others sculpted their bodies. Founded in 1986 by two former trainers at New York’s Sports Training Institute, Mike Motta and Chris Meade were innovators in the business of personal training. The Plus One Fitness “Clinic” was the first of its kind and offered customized personal training based on a fitness “evaluation” and physical therapy under one roof – in this case a 1200 sq.ft. high ceilinged loft which included a mezzanine with some cardio machines and a stretching area.
The private and discreet environment attracted not only celebrity clients but also many local business owners and Soho artists including the former editor of Interview magazine and doyenne of the downtown art scene, Ingrid Sischy, who sadly passed away this month. Workouts were limited to 5 clients per hour and each client had a private bathroom with shower. Gil from Ghana was the greeter-in-chief who deftly managed the changing room situation and always with a smile. So the next time you find yourself waiting for your juice or shopping at Equinox Soho imagine back about 20 years and you may be standing where John Kennedy showered or where Madonna did her bicep curls!
I started working as a trainer at Plus One Soho in 1988. The following year a second and much larger location was opened at the new World Financial Center which added orthopedic offices including X-ray machines! I worked between the two locations until 1995. The clientele of the two gyms could not have been more different and ranged from high-stress to high drama. Not surprisingly my most memorable moments from my time at Plus One are from my days in Soho like the times when Robin Williams would come in and joke incessantly during his workout and have everyone in stitches. Or when John Kennedy would jump rope outside the steps on Crosby street. As many will remember him, he was often spotted exercising outdoors in NYC. It didn’t take long before the paparazzi got word and came knocking looking for an interview with his trainer. Singer James Taylor was a regular client for awhile as was the actor Michael O’ Keefe who occasionally brought his wife (now ex) Bonnie Raitt, who I once rescued from certain injury after she momentarily forgot that on a moving treadmill you have to keep moving.
The WFC location never reopened after 9/11 and Plus One Soho closed its doors a few years later but all was not lost. The company leveraged it’s success and reputation from its years servicing Wall Street’s executives to launch a new business model. Today Plus One Health Management is a global leader in the business of corporate fitness providing health and wellness programs to some of the biggest companies in the U.S. and around the world including AMEX, Google, Barclay’s Bank and many others.
Mike Creamer has a personal training studio on Wooster Street in Soho (just a few blocks from where he cut his teeth in the business with Plus One) where he offers the same high quality of personal training in a private environment.