We talk with Allan Kaplan, who has been with us since the beginning, and Rowen Glusman, who was just learning to walk when we opened,
about health, strength, and why we keep coming back for more. CWSS instructor Amy Parakkat starts us off…
As we kick off our 20th year, we thought we’d check in with one of our oldest clients, and one of our newest, and ask you…
Allan Kaplan, client since 2002: Is that “old” in terms of old, or….?
CWSS: Hah! How about “longest-term inmate”? How did you get started with SuperSlow?
Allan: [laughs] Okay, okay. So, my neighbor [CWSS founding partner] Keith Morton was telling me about this exercise protocol and he said “You’ve gotta try it!” But it was way too far away. He kept on me, though. About 2 years later, he called me and said, “I’m opening up my own shop, come on down!” So I did.
CWSS: And what was your history with exercise?
Allan: Prior to doing this, I was one of the pretty typical guys that’d go to the club 5 mornings a week. I’d ride a bike 3 days a week, and 2 days a week I’d play tennis. So every morning, I’d have 2-3 hours invested in exercise.
CWSS: Was it working?
Allan: I thought I was in pretty good shape. But once I moved into slo-mo, all of a sudden I had all these hours back! And it’s worked out really well.
CWSS: Do you remember your first workout?
Allan: I do! And the take-away was, “I don’t get it.” I’d been lifting weights forever, and I just didn’t get it. It wasn’t until the 4th or 5th time, we got the weights set so I’d hit failure at around 2 minutes, and then it was like rebooting a computer by the end. I just totally melted down! I realized this was not just like lifting weights. In fact, there were a few times when I was lying on the floor nauseous and thinking, “Now… am I supposed to be lying with my heart up or down?” [laughs] And then I started doing 2 a week, then dropped back to 1 a week and I’ve been there ever since.
CWSS: Unless you’ve been on vacation for a while and want to get back in shape fast.
Allan: Right. And there was one time I blew out my ACL skiing and I’m proud to say I never missed a session. Even though I couldn’t do any leg exercises, I was still able to do abs and upper body and went right through it.
CWSS: Rowen, what got you –a college student– to come to Citywide?
Rowen Glusman, client since 2020: When I got into college I joined the crew team and we would work out for 2-3 hours every morning. We would row, we would lift weights, we’d do all this stuff,
but all of that couldn’t really counterbalance the kind of food culture from all of my guy friends who were also lifting weights and eating.
CWSS: Rowen is studying physics.
Rowen: Right! I’m studying astrophysics so I’m surrounded by 20-year-old guys.
CWSS: Allan, you remember how you used to eat in your 20s?
Allan: Right! You just never quit!
Rowen: So the weight lifting was a competition between us, but also the eating was a competition between us. And I was losing hard!
CWSS: So finally COVID hit.
Rowen: And I decided maybe it was time to learn to take care of myself physically in a way that I had not done earlier. So I fell upon my mother [CWSS instructor Amy Parakkat] for advice. And my first proper workout really did wipe me out. I took a very, very long nap that day and then I never napped again! I just threw myself into it and have been doing twice a week ever since.
CWSS: What keeps you both coming back?
Allan: Back when I was a little younger, I ate just like those guys Rowen is talking about. And the big virtue that I was pushing for SuperSlow was, this exercise protocol enables you to eat pretty much whatever you want and not gain weight.
CWSS: Is that still true 19 years later?
Allan: Hah! No. But, you can eat a little bit less and strip off pounds. What I found interesting is that muscle chomps calories. And so by adding one or two pounds of muscle to your frame, it’ll eat 10 pounds or so a year of chubby. I was a little chubby when I was a kid. I’m not now, but I always feel I have to watch it.
Rowen: We have so many examples of what happens if you don’t.
Allan: In the Kaplan family we have an adage, “Let’s do what we do best…”
Rowen: [laughs] Which is eat!
Allan: [laughs] Eat and drink!
Rowen: It’s true! We’re a family of cooks. A lot of times I come here and it’s to hide from my own kitchen.
CWSS: So how’s it going?…
…Tune in next week to hear Allan and Rowen share their perspectives on aging and the gift they’re planning for their future selves.
Rowen: I joined a dance team this year! I would never have done that before CityWide. And we perform online so the stuff that we put out is never going to come off of the Internet. The way that you looked performing a dance is the way that you’ll look forever. And I… I feel good about the way that I appear. And I feel good about the way that I can function in that environment. K-Pop not an easy dance form to master. And a lot of times, I can pick stuff up a lot faster than I could if I had not shed those 30 pounds or added muscle. It’s so much easier to move through the world when your whole body is helping you.
CWSS: How about you, Allan? How do you feel about your peer group?
Allan: Most of the guys my age have gotten soft. Because exercise is hard. And if you do it the way I used to do it, it’s very, very time consuming. And you go, “Why am I doing this?” But this whole protocol takes 20 minutes. And I’m sitting here –we just finished my workout– and I’m watching my legs starting to shake and my abdomen is quivering and that’s GOOD!
CWSS: Yes! Brief, intense, infrequent, and safe: it’s what we do.
CWSS: If someone was thinking about coming in, what would you say to encourage them?
Allan: I’d quote a guy in his 80s from my wife’s church. I asked him, “Devin, what got you to start doing slow-motion strength training?” And he said, “Well.. I wanted to make sure that when I fall down, I can get up!”
Rowen: You don’t want to be a Life Alert ad!
Allan: [laughs] Exactly! And it was profound! Here’s this old man realizing that if he doesn’t put a little strength on his frame, he won’t be able to get up. I had a woman working for me and the elevator failed in the building and we were on the 32nd floor. She couldn’t walk down the stairs. A fireman had to carry her out. SuperSlow protocol was started for seniors, but I started way before I was a senior. My wife does it, and our children have been doing this for at least 15 years. And the kids love it! My son just came into town –he runs marathons– and he couldn’t wait to get a workout. It’s for everybody.
CWSS: Rowen, the SuperSlow method was developed on old people! Why should a 20-year-old come in?
Rowen: First of all, I’d say that young people should absolutely do this too. Two reasons. One of them is, when you are my age, it’s the springiest point in your personal history and you can use that force for good. You can choose to jump off from here and become the fit person of your dreams. Or, you can choose to jump off here and become…Not That. The other reason, for those who need that extra push, is that we all have familial genetic predispositions that you don’t think about when you’re 20 but will absolutely show up later. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t have a grandparent with osteoporosis or heart disease or diabetes: something that’s in your genes that you may or may not get, but this is the way to avoid that. By doing this workout, you can allow your later self to have so many fewer problems and a better life down the road.
CWSS: It’s a gift to your future self.
Rowen: It IS a gift to your future self! And a lot of times, people my age don’t really think about giving gifts to their future selves, but it’s an important thing to think about right along with what internship you’re going to get this summer. If you can dedicate even 20 minutes a week or –in my case– 40 minutes a week– it’s really not that much to be able to get up the stairs for the rest of your life. I mean…that’s a no-brainer, right?
CWSS: Alright, you two! Thank you very much!
Allan: All done?
CWSS: Anything else you want to tell us?
Allan: Well, you can include my leg press chart in your article! [everyone laughs]
CWSS: We will!