Tucked away on Washington Street in Tribeca, Superstar Gym is one of New York City’s newest boutique fitness facilities. Upon walking in the door, we were greeted by the owner, Joe, and a collection of never-before-seen (by us at least) orange and black fitness equipment. We were quickly informed that they were part of the Canali System, created by Vincenzo Canali, an Italian professor who helped many former Olympians and athletes build strength while preventing injury.
The machines are designed to recruit your own body weight through a full range of motion, while de-loading the spine to prevent injury, according to manufacturer’s claims. When we hopped on to try the machines, we did notice that there wasn’t much strain on any of our joints, or our backs. But don’t let the whole “lifting your body weight” confuse you in terms of difficulty — you have the option to lift from two to 250 percent, so you can definitely push yourself.
We moved from one machine to the next, focusing mainly on lats, shoulders and chest (though there are leg machines as well). We also did some work on balance boards — including push-ups and squats. By the end of the circuit, our arms were like rubber, but our legs still felt pretty fresh.
But we weren’t finished yet! The trainers took us over to another section of the gym to engage in some core work on vibration platforms. Though there’s much debate on whether these fitness machines help or hurt your workout, we hopped on to see what the pulsing platforms were all about. After a few sets of push-ups and squats, we quickly learned how much more difficult it was to balance on them fully erect (excessive shaking doesn’t begin to describe how we looked), as opposed to in an athletic stance.
The session wrapped up, and we could all agree our shoulders and pecs had received quite a beating even during a somewhat shorter — 35 minutes — workout. And though we could have benefited from some quick foam rolling and stretching, we saved that until we got home, as there wasn’t too much open space on the floor.
Superstar’s trainers mainly work one-on-one with clients who sign up for training sessions, like they did with us. But the gym did just start offering a class, FitWalker — where all exercises are done on a treadmill — if group fitness is what you fancy. And if you enjoy lifting as a solo sport, that’s allowed, too.