Stephen Ferguson is a certified personal trainer and CrossFit Level 2 instructor who played an integral role in developing the new boutique space, Red Zone, within the flagship Astor Place location of New York Sports Club. We chatted with him to learn more about how the NYSC brand has evolved over time to adapt to a boutique-fitness landscape, as well as what makes Red Zone unique.

How have you seen the New York Sports Club brand evolve over the past couple years during the boutique fitness boom?

I have been a trainer with NYSC for over four years, having started out as a floor trainer before reaching Elite Trainer status, and have seen a lot of changes within the club – from an evolution of the fitness floor itself to the types of programming offered, particularly with the addition of small group training options. There has definitely been a shift towards functional training in the fitness world that reflects members’ desire to train in a small group setting.

Tell us more about Red Zone, your new in-house boutique space. What led to its creation and how did you develop the program?

The Red Zone reflects the next level of a program we launched in the Fall of 2016 – FlexSystem, which I was also integral in developing. Red Zone has three programming tracks: RZ Pump, which is strength-based, RZ Boost (endurance-based), and RZ Core (core-based). All three programs include a flexibility portion at the end. The Pump program in particular focuses on slower lifting techniques which you don’t frequently find in a small group setting. This is a real differentiator and one that is very appealing to women, as this is a group style environment where participants can learn lifting techniques and principles on an ongoing basis. My experience not only as a certified personal trainer but also as a Crossfit Level 2 instructor, and avid competitor in obstacle races, gave me a unique perspective which I helped bring to both Flex System and Red Zone.

How did you design the space to optimize the in-studio experience?

With the opening of our new Astor Place location, we wanted to create a customized experience. We brought in a lighting system that gives the room a nightclub vibe and creates a real emotional intensity for the participants. We also combined different equipment you might see at other boutique HIIT or CrossFit style studios but brought them all together in one place, such as turf for functional training as well as Rogue Rigs which are used for slower, heavier lifting. The space, equipment, and customized programming all help differentiate Red Zone from other boutique fitness spaces, while still remaining in line with the NYSC brand.

What’s next for Red Zone / NYSC?

We are continuing to innovate and evolve the whole experience of Red Zone, from the programming to the studio experience to the equipment. Red Zone will continue to be an offering exclusive to the NYSC Astor Place location, which is our flagship, but we will continue to increase the boutique style offerings of programs like FlexSystem at our other locations.