Taking a class with the “fittest woman on Earth” might seem like a fairly intimidating prospect. But Camille Leblanc-Bazinet, the Canadian-born athlete who earned that title in 2014 when she won the CrossFit Games, insists that her class and all of the classes at the new I.C.E. NYC gym on Worth Street where she is the program director are appropriate for anyone.
“We understand that everyone is at a certain level and our goal is just to make you fitter and healthier,” she said.
CrossFit is the high-intensity exercise program that has grown tremendously in the past few years and gathered a cult following, transforming it from a rough routine for seasoned athletes into a boutique fitness class.
Dave Lipson, who is a CrossFit trainer (and Leblanc-Bazinet’s husband), described the first CrossFit studio in New York City he went to as a bare-bones place. “There were nails sticking out of the wall, there was blood on the floor, there was, like, bodily fluids everywhere, and you walked in and you thought you were going to get Hepatitis.”
That’s pretty much the opposite of the I.C.E. (Infinite Cross-training Experience) gym: Gold-trimmed mirrors line the staircase and the changing room has marble sinks, candles and the extras you expect to find at an Equinox or David Burton gym.
The gym founder chose Tribeca because residents “are the most focused on fitness.”
Izzy Levy, CEO of I.C.E. gym, says he told the architecture firm DesBrisay & Smith, who also designed the Barry’s Bootcamp gyms, that he wanted the space to feel like Grand Central Station, “It’s New York chic but old-school New York as well.”
I.C.E. is not the first luxury CrossFit gym in the city; Solace gym in NoMad also offers fluffy towels to wipe your brow with after your CrossFit workouts. But it is indicative of a larger trend toward dressing up intense workouts with super-cushy amenities.
Levy and Leblanc-Bazinet said the posh extras will help bring in people who are intimidated by CrossFit and make them want to take a class. Especially in Tribeca, where, Levy says, “everybody’s focused on living well.”
He chose the neighborhood after a friend advised him to put the gym “where I saw a lot of Lululemon and yoga mats. I went to Hell’s Kitchen, I went to the Upper West Side, but in Tribeca, people are the most focused on fitness,” he said, adding, “I think it’s the coolest area in the city.”
Of course, as Leblanc-Bazinet points out, not everyone walking around in $150 Sweaty Betty leggings is necessarily working out. “A lot of people like to look like they’re playing the game, without playing it,” she says about the so-called athleisure trend.
“You know they’re not fit. You can see it,” she says with a laugh, “Especially when they wear high heels [with sweats], that’s the worst.”