Located in a massive light-filled TriBeCa space that is more breathtaking than an exercise studio has any right to be, Outer Reach comes to us courtesy of two fashion world insiders: Aimee Cho, a former Vogue writer and founder of the womenswear label Gryphon, and Alex Drexler, co-founder of the clothing brand Alex Mill (and son of fashion world legend Mickey Drexler). Little surprise, then, that the duo’s new enterprise has been swarming with models and magazine editors, or that the interior’s hyper-groomed aesthetic rivals a set of a Spike Jones movie.
The restrained palette—nothing but mint green, light camel, and plywood—was the work of York Wu, a floral designer whose clients include Oscar de la Renta and Cartier. Dressed in head-to-toe mint green, the instructors lead sessions according to a series of movements devised by the studio’s “method architect” Toni Melaas, a dancer and Pilates instructor. Intelligence is cornerstone of her routine, which prioritizes alignment and body awareness over the old hips-and-hamstring fixation.
“The first thing we’re going to focus on is the inner corridor,” instructor Lea Fulton said when Tory Daily came in for a one-on-one session. The inner corridor, she went on to explain, is a series of points along the central pillar of the body (think of those Ben and Jerry’s pints with caramel cores)—starting at the arches of the feet and leading up through the pelvic floor and the thoracic cavity. As she explained this, she handled the back of our skull, and one super minor adjustment had us feeling inches taller.
We all know that stretching is good for our bodies, but until recently it was an afterthought, a few minutes after a rigorous workout. Only recently has it emerged as the main event. “It’s a great way to spend a recovery day without ‘wasting’ it,” says Cho, who is in her forties and loves running and Pilates. She credits her father as her stretching inspiration. In his seventies, he takes ten-mile hikes three days a week. “He’s able to do it because he stretches,” she says. “He considers it like brushing his teeth.”
The first half of the Outer Reach session was a standing series; the second found us on a soft cork bed, at one point engaged in a double pigeon pose, our limbs intertwined with Fulton’s. Her hands-on adjustments were frequent and more than welcome—we were not surprised to learn that in addition to being a dancer and yoga instructor, she is trained in Thai massage therapy.
The hour flew by as Fulton plugged our limbs deep into their sockets while coaching us through extensions, rotations, and into more and more unimaginable positions (in our mind’s eye we saw at various points a flamingo, a stilts walker, and a Chinese dumpling). We left standing taller, feeling smarter. And a tad more fashionable.