I’m in the zone. Heart pounding, endorphins pumping, sweat dripping down my body as I am racing to Rihanna, with a room full of fellow fitness addicts. We are hooting and hollering over the music as our fearless coach, Hollis Lotharius leads us in a well choreographed run for 28 minutes on the cushiest Woodway treadmills around. Hollis describes with perfect precision and beautiful imagery, how we should be holding our bodies as we approach every step of the run at the Mile High Run Club studio, in NoMad: “Stand tall, as if you are being held up by a string suspended from the ceiling. And tight. Core light. Eyes, shoulders, hips, and knees driving forward. Elbows driving back. Hands are relaxed as they glide by your hips traveling from hip to shoulder. Feet landing quickly, and quietly, right below your hips.” It becomes instantly apparent that I am at no ordinary studio, I am at a runners’ studio.
Mention the word “running” and you get completely polarized responses. People either love it or hate it - not a lot of in between. Luckily, I have always fallen into the former category, and though I’ve done so many different workouts in my life, I always go back to running when I really need to burn off steam, get serious, or just plain old sweat my heart out. The Mile High Run Club in NYC is a serious place for serious runners, and it’s also not. The great thing about the studio, is that it structures it’s classes in a way that allows for every runner, from beginner to elite, with each fitness level being challenged in the appropriate way. Also, in a world where it seems group fitness seems to be losing its hands on touch as studios get bigger and less personal, the MHRC approach allows the coach to walk around and through the treadmills, gently correcting runners form, and noticing their efforts. Praise and motivation go a long way when you’re winded from conquering a 3 minute run uphill. Additionally, most of the classes also incorporate 15 minutes of strength training from kettle bells and floor work, so that you leave feeling you accomplished not just a great run, but a true, intense, full body workout.
I got to sit down with running coach Deb Warner, founder of MHRC and ask her some questions I had….
Tell us about why you decided to open the studio & develop the concept. Why a studio focused on running? Whose idea was it?
The studio and classes were created by me, in order to address the need for group speed training for runners of various fitness levels. Runners and non-runners benefit from the guidance provided in class by a team of expert coaches. The goal was to create a gym by a runner for runners where everyone can train like an athlete regardless of fitness level.
Tell us about the workout. How did you formulate it?
We actually don't use the word workout. We train. The training strategies we use are a combination of proven techniques to improve both speed and endurance.
What is your fitness philosophy?
My general philosophy is ask yourself what you cannot live without and then live for that. I'm an advocate of the training "principal of specificity." You have to run in order to become a better runner for example.
Does MHRC have a culture? How would you define it?
The MHRC culture consists of recreational racers who train and race as a lifestyle. It's an extension of the running culture. Running is a sport, not a boutique fitness concept.
So many people say they are “afraid” or intimidated to run. How do you put them at ease? Is the class for all levels?
We encourage new runners to start with our foundation building class (the DASH 28) and walk during the recovery if necessary. The run portion is only 28 minutes total including the warm up and cool down. Our coaches are also very helpful and accommodating to the new runner. Everyone in class works at his/her own effort level, so there's really no pressure to keep up with anyone. Any new runner should walk/jog until they build endurance.
What makes running fun?
I think running is fun because it makes me feel alive. It may sound corny, but I feel connected with my "life force" when I run. It also puts me in THE BEST mood.
What are the studios plans for expansion in the future?
We will announce the launch of our third studio before the end of this year.
What is the best part of the MHRC experience?
The best part of the MHRC experience in my opinion is the coaching. Where else can you spend an hour with an Olympian running on the best treadmills (Woodway) and get that coveted runners high?
Mile High Run Club has two studios in Manhattan, and also offer clinics to train runners preparing for their first or their 41st Marathon. I’m running back there as soon as I can.