You may have heard of the beautiful new gym that opened in September just across the Greenwich, CT, border in Port Chester, NY. You might have also heard of the top-notch trainers, the rooftop sun deck, the golf simulator and the private Pilates studio, as well as the one-step-better equipment (for instance, treadmills not only let you surf the web but also run courses around the world in real time). But you may not have heard about the new approach to nutritional counseling, which is at the core of CLAY Health Club and Spa.
“My approach is to look at fitness, nutrition and hormones together. I can put together the best training program with a client, but if they’re not eating well, supplementing correctly and their hormones aren’t balanced, they can suffer from fatigue and digestive issues, and that can cause an inability to recover and lose weight,” says Ali Gilbert, CLAY’s director of performance and golf fitness, who grew up in Greenwich, CT, and graduated from Convent of the Sacred Heart.
When members first join, they’re introduced to a fitness concierge who listens to their goals and develops a plan, which for many members involves matching them with a trainer. Then, they meet with Gilbert, who will ask them to keep a food journal, and Michael Manavian, director of performance and golf professional, to decide together if they’ll do blood testing (for an extra cost on-site at the spa, under the supervision of Dr. Stephen A.R. Murphy, CLAY’s in-house doc). Gilbert can also do a three-dimensional physical and a neuromuscular assessment. “This information will help us train you for a certain goal, either on your own or with a trainer,” says Manavian. The science be-hind the concept is tried and true; previous research has shown that chronically elevated levels of hormones like cortisol—the stress hormone—can impede metabolism and, as a result, slow weight loss. Low thyroid levels can contribute to a lack of energy and depression (not exactly helpful when pushing yourself to make it to the gym before or after work, or during a long day of taking care of your kids). And deficiencies of iron and vitamin D can also contribute to lagging energy levels.
The idea is that the experts at CLAY look at what’s happening on the inside in order to help you look your best on the outside. And it’s all done under one roof. “We can even have the on-site cafe make foods based on your nutritional deficiencies,” says spokesperson Karen Mason.
And while kale, quinoa and other healthy diet standbys are certainly well-represented, the guilt-free dishes at the CLAY Café by Mason Privé are prepared by expert restaurant chefs who have previously worked at places like Per Se in New York City and Blue Hill at Stone Barns in Poncantico Hills, NY (eateries known for rich, deca- dent flavors rather than strict deprivation).
CLAY’s capped membership includes many professional, highly competitive men who use the nutrition lab because they want to see results, fast, says Mason. And yet women—thanks in part to a wide array of Pilates, ballet and spin classes and private training, as well as childcare and a mother’s nursing/pumping room—comprise much of the overall membership, she adds.
The outcome of all this uber-specific testing, personal attention and customized fitness and diet plans? Results. “Our program tells us what your body needs to perform at its best. It will be a welcomed tool for anyone who’s ever worked out, either alone or with a trainer, and not seen the changes that they wanted. By measuring and not guessing, we can achieve a level of precision and generate programming that is unique to each client,” says Mason.
Here’s a sample day of meals at CLAY’s café
Egg white frittata with half an avocado
Biosteel protein shake with almond milk and almond butter
Grassfed beef burger patty over rice bowl
Detox salad with grilled chicken
11 Riverdale Ave., Port Chester, NY,