David Kirsch's made a name as the man who whips models into shape, namely those readying for the Victoria Secret catwalk. His "sound mind, sound body" targeted fitness tactics have garnered him this specialty clientele as well as the illustrious title of Master of the Ass.
That's why if you pop in his Boot Camp DVD, you'll be greeted to a praise-fest from Heidi Klum and why his name sprawls in all-caps across every one of his lifestyle products like cleanses, nutrition bars, and even wellness water. Not bad from a former lawyer who turned his life over to exercise and nutrition, and wants New Yorkers to do the same. Well+Good recently met the man behind this marketing juggernaut. Is there substance beneath his six-pack and high-gloss celebrity fitness image? Here's what we learned.
Covers of signed issues of Sports Illustrated and Playboy decorate his office walls—so I worried that looking, well, model-esque, was the goal of his Ultimate NY Body Plan? But he surprised me with his holistic approach. "I make sure to incorporate every aspect of someone’s life into their training—it isn’t just about losing weight," he says. "It's about embracing nutrition, changing the way you live, and ensuring that this philosophy holds true in every aspect of your life." Also warming me to Kirsch: I witnessed his face light up like the Empire State Building when one of his 18-month-old twin daughters toddled into the room.
I worked out with Kirsch twice. First, via his Sound Mind Sound Body Ultimate Fitness Boot Camp DVD. It's a killer total-body workout with weights. My hockey player (and former military) boyfriend mocked Kirsch's instruction that the 5 pounders "will feel heavy.” Then later admitted he was hurting after the DVD's repeated shadow boxing sequences and all the push-ups. (The musical director deserves an extra set of push-ups for the lame elevator-music soundtrack.) I was sore for days after.
In person, Kirsch was straight-forward but encouraging. "Stick your ass out more," he said as I squatted, then followed the command with, "That looks great, you're doing great." I'm no Heidi Klum, but he made me feel as if I could be—if I just stuck my ass out more.
For a New Yorker, Kirsch's first nutrition commandment is scary. "Coffee is the first thing I make my clients give up," he says. He also bans bread and fruit, among other foods, if you're on his 2-week New York Body Plan, a popular online regime. "If you aren’t trying for dramatic results, you can make modifications to suit your lifestyle," he says. Otherwise, it's Kirsh's way or no way, a set of common-sense (if Hollywood-sounding) rules that don't seem to come from a particular credential but from Kirsch's own broad, personal study.
His own nutritional products play an increasingly large role in his health prescription. They range from Energy Bubbles (to replace the caffeine) to cleanses, and he just launched a protein meal replacement called The Kirsch Bar. And of course, supplements. Hirch says his brand is meant to simplify the process—rather than a cabinet full of omega-3 capsules, whey protein, and iron pills, you can just reach for one bottle.
The Bottom Line
While you probably don't need $46 vitamins (even if they are an "exclusive combination"), a $30 fitness class at his Madison Square Club is definitely worth trying. Kirsch won't make you feel bad about being less-than-runway ready, and he'll take your overall health seriously, even if the cover of Sports Illustrated is not your final goal. He just might try to sell you a Kirsch Bar when you're done. —Lisa Elaine Held
Want to try him out? David Kirsch group classes cost $30, and are held at the Madison Square Club, 210 Fifth Ave., between 25th and 26th Sts. Sign up here: www.davidkirschwellness.com/madisonsquareclub/classes or click here for Kirsch's personal training rates.
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