Persevera Featured in Men's Vogue
Ten years ago, Michael Mraz embarked on a multi-week personal training regimen with Jim Clarry, Persevera’s founder. Michael subsequently chronicled his journey with Jim in Men’s Vogue. As we approach the tenth anniversary of the publication of Michael’s article, we present highlights from his commentary that not only provide a great description of how our training sessions remain structured to this day, but also demonstrate how our protocols have stood the test of time.
As is the case with many of our clients, Michael’s busy schedule had prevented him from maintaining the physique that he had enjoyed as a college athlete. “Long hours at the office and endless travel had robbed me of the 90 minutes a day I used to spend at the gym four times a week. Working out had been sacked by working,” he wrote.
“It was only fitting, then," he continued, "that my boss— perhaps out of pity— told me about high intensity training (HIT), a form of strength building that contends it's not the volume of one's workouts that matters but the ferocity. ‘It's amazing,’ he said, explaining that, along with weekly squash matches for cardio, he trains only once a week for less than 30 minutes. Impossible, I thought.”
Michael opted to take his boss’ advice, and met with Jim for his first workout at our studio in Midtown. “It's a trainer-only facility, so there are never pools of people jockeying for the same dumbbell,” he wrote.
The author’s first impression of the atmosphere at the studio was one of surprise, declaring: “the thing that really sets it apart” are the Midtown businessmen “who come to train in their suits, doffing only their jackets and ties” and women “working out in dresses, kicking aside their heels and going barefoot.” The author admits that, “in shorts and a T-shirt at my first session, I feel like an imposter—it's the only time I've ever felt underdressed to lift weights. But when your workout is shorter than the wait for a treadmill at most gyms, why bother changing clothes?”
The Initial Training Session
Michael goes on to describe how his first training session with Jim began: “With a stopwatch hanging from his neck and a clipboard in hand, Jim takes me through a beginner's workout, explaining the mechanics of each exercise in detail. ‘For the first couple sessions we're just going to let your body adjust to the negative-only motions,’ he explains. I have no idea what ‘negative only’ means, so we start with one-arm cable bicep curls to illustrate. Take a conventional bicep curl— you start with the bar down at your thigh and squeeze until it reaches your shoulder. That's a concentric, or positive, contraction. The second act, when you extend your arm, controlling the weight back to its starting position, is an eccentric, or negative, contraction. Jim explains that, like journalists, we are only concerned with the negatives. Then the laughing stops: He pulls the weight (100 pounds, much more than I'd be able to do with a positive contraction) up for me so that I'm starting with it already at my shoulder. This is amazing, I think. He's doing all the work. Then Jim lets go, and I am left resisting with all my might as the weight forces my arm to extend downward. ‘That's it,’ he says cheerfully, as the pain builds. ‘Super strong... Barely let it tap.’ A rep's ideal duration is three to six seconds, or about the time it takes to run a 40-yard dash-full-out exertion. I'm finished after four reps, my biceps taxed to the point that simply lifting a hand is difficult.”
Michael’s inaugural workout comes to an end less than a half hour later. “After 25 minutes, mercifully, we're finished. I'm tired but not exhausted, and feel like I can—and should—go on. ‘Part of the conditioning,’ Jim points out, ‘is to realize that you shouldn't work out until you feel like you can't. It's about maximizing the intensity and decreasing the frequency.’”
As Michael’s confidence and strength began to increase over the ensuing weeks, Jim increased the intensity of his workouts, and Michael’s attitude toward Jim’s protocols began to shift. “By my next visit, working legs and back, I have reason to believe this is more than a weekly ritual for masochists.”
Nearly two months after he began training with Jim, Michael offered an assessment: “Seven weeks later, I am no longer reluctant. After no more than 50 minutes a week with Jim (about six hours total— far less than a day's work), I've put on six pounds of muscle, [and] dropped half an inch off my waist.” He continued, “At a recent benefit, my wife and I ran into a bunch of friends we hadn't seen in a while. She spent most of the night proudly telling them about my transformation while their husbands and boyfriends listened in with undisguised contempt. Giving my bicep a furtive squeeze, one wife said, ‘Are you flexing? He's not flexing!’ I told them about Jim and his clipboard”, “about overworked guys who no longer have time to work out. I was proselytizing, on a mission to save marriages, to rekindle relationships, to improve men's health.”
Michael Mraz’ article, entitled “Power Surge”, appeared in its entirety in the October 2007 edition of Men’s Vogue.