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.