Finding the Core of Fitness


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Gym enthusiasts looking for high-tech equipment, or to find their next date at the water cooler, need not apply to Rich Decker’s exclusive fitness club, Studio 89. But for those looking for privacy and Decker’s personally-designed exercise regimen, which has more to do with developing long-term strength and fitness than mastering the newest equipment, Studio 89 might be the perfect fit.

Studio 89, located discretely, without signage, on Clay Pit Road in Sag Harbor is not Decker’s first foray into the fitness world. He was the founder of three East End gyms under the title of the American Fitness Factory with locations in Southampton, Sag Harbor and Cutchogue. Decker sold the gyms 13 years ago, continuing his work locally as a personal trainer before deciding to open Studio 89 – a gym built around his philosophy about personal training rather than what equipment may be the most trendy.

“If you are a trainer and someone is spending a substantial amount of money with you, putting them on a machine just does not cut it,” said Decker.

Instead of putting clients on a machine that lines the body up, and works specific muscles, Decker’s program, using suspension training, asks the trainer to line up the body and create movement that engages the body at its core, building muscle from the bone outward – a regimen Decker says ultimately creates a stronger physique.

With this goal in mind, Decker converted an industrial garage into an airy 4,000 square foot studio with 25-foot ceilings and 16-foot garage doors that in the spring, summer and fall months are opened to allow clients the privilege of enjoying their workout in the fresh East End air.

Specifically devoid of the standard gym equipment outside of cardio equipment placed only for warm ups, Decker’s studio is lined with free weights, and a suspension and gravity-based system training – the core of his fitness plan. TRX Suspension Trainer bands hang from bars connected to the ceiling enabling clients to work their whole body through different movements meant to target the whole body while focusing on a specific area, said Decker, allowing for greater overall results.

“You are actually getting stronger from within,” said Decker. “The stronger your core, the stronger you are. Our clients are pushing from their bones, strengthening their muscles straight out to the exterior.”

“They are very similar to using Olympic rings, except as civilians we get to keep our feet on the ground,” said Decker later. He added that suspension training can be used at fitness levels that apply to everyone, not just those in tip-top shape.

“My clients range from 10 years old to 80-plus,” said Decker.

Studio 89 is the only fitness center of its kind, notes Decker, providing both a unique fitness experience, but also the privacy and amenities found in the most exclusive fitness studios.

“Out here and pretty much everywhere gyms offer personal training,” said Decker. “I just think our clients deserve different treatment. They should not have to look for parking, they should not have to wait for machines on a busy Saturday, they should have free towels, free water. I have been in the industry long enough where I choose to do this in a private setting.”

Opened in April 2009, Studio 89 has roughly 50 members and according to Decker will cap out at 100 in an effort to maintain the sense of personal attention and privacy. An added difference, he added, is that clients at Studio 89 are there specifically to get in shape, with the aid of four on-site trainers, and not to mingle at the water cooler or meet their next Saturday night dinner date.

“It’s all about word of mouth for us,” said Decker. “Here, the overhead is not as big because our results are. We have the word of mouth, we have cleanliness, we have privacy.”

For more information, visit Studio 89 at 89 Clay Pit Road in Sag Harbor or call 899-4310. Information is also available on Studio 89’s website