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Best Gym
La Palestra Center for Preventative Medicine
11 West 67th Street

Getting in to La Palestra, where Liam Neeson and Howard Stern are regulars, is about as easy as passing a CPW co-op board. “We only take 250,” explains owner Pat Manocchia, as he gives a tour of the mezzanine’s hotel-style changing rooms complete with phone and Indian-slate shower. And slackers need not apply. La Palestra is not so much a gym as it is an intensive-care center for total body fitness. Upon initiation, members are given a report card and a “prescription” and are required to meet with a trainer 28 times in six months. Courses are offered in everything from fundamentals, like how to run—most people, as Manocchia notes, do not do it properly—to medical-minded classes, such as how to deal with weight-related health issues if you’re a diabetic. Motivated members can also sign up to extensively train for a specific event. For a ten-mile run from Paris to Versailles in October the curriculum includes testing lactate threshold one day, a trip to the Met on the other, followed up by visits to the Louvre and the Musée d’Orsay across the pond.
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