Some things I think about when I think about hell: Preternaturally high temperatures ratcheted ever higher by the sweating bodies of one's peers, packed suffocatingly close like cattle baking under a thousand suns; relatedly, the pervasive stench of tanned hide; other people judging you so intently and unflaggingly you'd think they'd been paid to do it; some sort of diabolical ring master setting the punishing pace for the entire racket.
Performix House, an exclusive gym-clubhouse that opened in Union Square last spring, reportedly has all these things and more: according to the NY Times, "The House is brimming with influencers."
Co-founder Matt Hesse does not seem to envision Performix House as a "gym," but as "an exclusive space for a performance-driven lifestyle," which in this context means everything and nothing at all. Judging by the Times story, Performix House is also a multi-million dollar "marketing vehicle" to sell Hesse's line of protein powders and dietary supplements. Weird flex but okay.
Full disclosure, I have never ventured inside Performix House and probably never will, because in order to join, you must be wealthy, committed to fitness, and have a robust social media following. I meet not a single one of their criteria. I would not even make it past step one (submitting your Instagram handle so staff "can look you up and make sure you're worthy," Hesse half-"joked" to the Times, and filling out a questionnaire) of the job interview-like application process. A Performix House representative will never call me to discuss my "fitness or life goals in general," but at least I have this very telling Times article to make it feel almost as though I were there.
The 8,000 square feet that comprise Performix House have reportedly been divided up into wellness chambers, each with its own lighting schema and scentscape. The lobby, for example, "has a deep leather smell," per the Times, while the cryotherapy cabinets smell like fear, probably, and the weight-lifting area likely reeks of shame. The gym's motto, as seen on the workout room walls, is "own everything," but they own your soul and also you have to pay a lot of money for that privilege.
Hesse told the Times that the trainers, who are also Internet Influencers, earn as much as $300 an hour—what are you doing with your life? Their overlords reportedly don't take a cut of those earnings, which is nice I guess. What is not so nice, at least as I define the word, is paying basically a second rent toward a gym membership. Performix offers tiered membership plans ranging from most ($240/month for limited access to their "exclusive space") to least plebeian: $900 per month for the full shebang—we're talking cryo-chambers, infrared saunas, massage rooms, personal fitness and nutrition coaches, and access to the House's custom content studio, "replete with a videographer and editor," according to the Times. Actually, that perk may just be for the Instagram-famous trainers. But I bet if you were among Performix's model clientele, they would let you use the content studio.
In any case, even if all of this appeals to you, you probably won't get in any time soon, because Hesse claims thousands of people have already applied to fill the gym's 400 spots. Which is, frankly, wild—and all the more so when you remember that the whole "House" was reportedly built as "a marketing vehicle" to sell vitamins.