We recently connected with Kari Saitowitz, founder of New York’s upscale boutique fitness studio The Fhitting Room. Having just celebrated their 3 year anniversary and with 2 locations now open in Manhattan (and plans for more), TFR is all about sharing positive energy and creating body-changing results through its personalized HIIT group exercise classes. As with any fitness class, it’s all about the instructor and the execution — and it’s definitely being done well at the Flatiron location we visited (and kind of fell in love with).
Prior to launching The Fhitting Room, Kari Saitowitz had already had an extremely impressive career. Between her first and second year at Harvard Business School, she pursued her interest in consumer brands and advertising with an internship at Pepsi, where she returned after receiving her MBA, to spend 5 years working with some of the most passionate, talented, smart and creative marketers in the industry. Kari’s experiences exposed her to managing marketing initiatives for powerhouse brands, launching new product innovations, developing new music platforms, collaborating with joint venture partners and more.
Motherhood + Shifting Priorities + The Fhitting Room. After having her first son (now eight years old), Kari decided to step out of her role at Pepsi and to dive into full-time motherhood. Her second son was born two years later, and two years after that she began percolating the idea that became The Fhitting Room.
Has fitness always been an important part of your life? “I was always active as child, but fitness became a passion much later in life. As a child, I did gymnastics and cheerleading for years, loved riding bikes, climbing trees and playing street hockey, but it took me finding a type of workout that I found fun and effective to fall in love with fitness. The drive to defy aging is a pretty strong motivating factor too!”
What sparked your interest in HIIT workouts? “I was never into group exercise classes as a young adult. I wasn’t even a consistently frequent gym goer until I started business school at the age of 25. I used to work out in the corporate gym at Pepsi every morning but pretty much stuck to the machines. One of the women working for me convinced me to attend a total body class taught by a fellow Pepsi employee; she swore this class – “Careology”, named after the instructor Careo – changed her body. The class wasn’t high intensity per se, but it was a total body workout that utilized functional movements, strength training and incorporated some cardio bursts. It kicked my butt at first, but I found the class so much more fun than 50 minutes on machines by myself. After a few weeks, I saw major changes in my body and metabolism. After I had my older son, I started personal training sessions to burn off my baby weight and get back in shape. My trainer introduced me to HIIT workouts and many of the movements and tools we use at The Fhitting Room like kettlebells, suspension training, rowing machines, burpees, plyometrics and so much more. The results were magic, but I didn’t find one-on-one training as fun or motivating as a class environment.”
How did your concept for The Fhitting Room evolve? “The Fhitting Room started as a conversation between my personal trainer and I about whether it was possible to package the type of HIIT workouts we were doing in a one-on-one setting into a group exercise class, set to music, in a beautiful boutique setting with well credentialed trainers.”
Greatest Sources of Inspiration. “My team and clients inspire me to continuously grow, improve and deliver. The Fhitting Room is my happy place, and I want it to be that for everyone who comes. When I’m tired, wanting to help them achieve their goals, personally and professionally, motivates me. Of course, my children also inspire me. I feel like I have to be the best version of myself for them.”
Positive Lifestyle Habits: “I’ve learned to chunk my time rather than trying to do various things simultaneously many years ago. I like to walk my kids to school every morning and then continue my walk to work (when I’m at our uptown location) listening to music. I find fresh air and a quiet walk go a long way to getting my day started with a clear head. I also need one or two nights a week when I’m out with friends or my husband and skip out my kids’ nighttime bed routine. I adore spending time with them, reading together and tucking them in at night, but it’s time consuming and draining to get two young boys to settle down. I find taking a break from this, even once a week, goes a long way for me.”
What It’s All About for Kari At The Fhitting Room. “About one year after opening The Fhitting Room, one of my instructors was moving to Atlanta to pursue a graduate degree. On his last day teaching, one of our loyal clients approached him, thanked him and told him for the first time in his life, he felt like an athlete. I love this story because our goal is for every client to leave feeling successful and better about himself/herself than he/she did when before class.”
Best Advice She’s Been Given: “It’s actually a quote from The Fountainhead by Ahn Rand, ‘The question is not who’s going to let me; it’s who’s going to stop me?’ I think this applies to so many things in life.”
* Favorite Workout Song at the Moment: My House by Flo Rida.