By Nicole Berrie
Photography by Sasha Israel
TUCKED AWAY IN THE BASEMENT ON A QUIET BLOCK IN THE WEST VILLAGE, WILLSPACE LURES SOME OF THE CITY’S FITTEST CROWDS from BRAVO-lebrities to fashion industry insiders. Helmed by Will Torres, the three-year-old boutique training facility is not your average gym. Instead of aiming for the masses, Torres focuses on one-on-one training, tailored fitness programs in a quiet, no-fuss environment that reads more like a spa than a gym, down to the candle burning and the Malin & Goetz products. “My first priority was to develop a space where I myself wanted to work out,” explains the New Jersey native in the mirrored boxing/breathing room of his namesake gym. “Second, I wanted to create a place where my clients could explore their fitness goals on their own terms and where I could help them feel more confident.” Indeed, it’s that personalized approach, which draws clients like Mark Consuelos, Andy Cohen and Julia Restoin Roitfeld that has made WILLSPACE one of the best gyms in the city. Whether it’s offering ju-jitsu classes or learning how to breathe (that’s right, really learning how to breathe), WILLSPACE offers a comprehensive approach to health and fitness. Here, we caught up with Torres who explained his training philosophy as well as what he does to get that enviable chiseled shape.
How would you describe the approach to training at Willspace?
Everything we do is about figuring out what each person’s body needs and what’s the best approach for them. Then we make adjustments along the way.
Do you tailor your programs for new client?
When a new client comes in, I find out what they’re looking to do, what they’ve done in the past, are there any injuries, and if they have an event coming up, like a wedding or a trip. Those are fun because when people have something to work towards, they are more driven.
Is there a secret to getting into the best shape possible?
People that get in the best shape train 6-8 hours a week. That doesn’t mean that people who come in 3 times a week don’t get results, they do, but the people who get the best results are putting in 6-8 hours.
What are the biggest mistakes people make when working out?
People want to do what looks fun. The Bosu looks cool, but if you can’t do a push-up on a stable surface let alone on something very unstable, you shouldn’t be experimenting with new things. Once they learn the fundamentals, then we can evolve the movement. My analogy is do you want to be a Lamborghini with a Ford Escort motor? Do you want to look great but not be able to perform? Well that’s worthless.
Why is it important to begin a regular exercise regimen early in life?
Around 25, the aging process starts kicking in. It’s not just your hangovers are worse but you start to actually lose muscle tissue. You don’t really notice it until you’re in your late twenties or early thirties. After 25, women lose about half a pound to a pound of muscle tissue every year.
Does your approach differ for women versus men?
Women recover a lot faster than men so we want to move them more quickly from movement to movement. They’re not lifting as much weight because they don’t need to but we want them to fatigue. You want to go where the muscle is burning. The muscle is not going to change unless you ask it to change.
What if someone only has 30 minutes to workout?
You want to pick the exercises that are going to target as many muscles as possible. For example, bench dips are going to be better than tricep kick backs. Lunges are much better than doing hip exercises. Bigger movements including squats, step-ups, push-ups and pull-downs. Second, pick a series of exercises and do them as quickly as possible. You want to go to the point where you are breathing heavy and you are pushing yourself. A great way to do that is to do it against the clock. A hotel room workout could be, 10 burpees, 10 sit-ups, 10 times. I call that the quick and dirty.
What’s the best tip to remember when training?
If you can do 10 reps of something, the ones that count are nine and ten. But the ones that are going to make the most change are 11, 12 and 13. You have to go beyond what you’re comfortable with. And that’s how you get your body to change.
Do you cook?
I love making red quinoa with steamed vegetables or sautéed broccoli and spinach and grilled salmon or grilled chicken.
What does your personal workout look like?
I workout three days on, one day off. I train for performance. I love to squat, dead lift and do pull ups and swing kettle bells. When it warms up, my third day is always a long run or a swim.
What is your one daily health non-negotiable?
In the morning I take 10 breaths, each for five seconds. Inhale and exhale. I also do it on the way home. It grounds me.
What’s the best part of your job?
Improving our clients’ lives. I know that if I make them stronger and give them more energy, then they’re going to step into life a completely different way.
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