Meet Mr. Equinox
How the Meatball Shop’s Michael Chernow makes every minute count — at his restaurants, in our club, and beyond.
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Come upon Michael Chernow at any given moment on any given day and you'll be struck by two certainties; he will be working extremely hard, and he will look exceptionally good doing so. The 32-year-old general manager and co-owner of the Meatball Shop, New York’s wildly popular, four-strong portfolio of restaurants, has spent the past 15 years working his way up the ranks in the industry. “I really feel as if I started my career when I was 13 years old,” he says. “Back then, I was delivering vegan food. But even before then, I was busy. When I was 10, 11 years old I was walking every dog in the neighborhood. I’ve always had an underlying drive to succeed.” Today, Chernow and his business partner Daniel Holzman run something of a meatball empire, stretching from Manhattan to Williamsburg, the Brooklyn neighborhood that he and his wife call home.
The passion and drive that Chernow applies to business are just as evident in his approach to fitness. So, in partnership with MR PORTER, Q spent a day experiencing life as Chernow does — complete with work, family, friends, and, of course, an impressive calisthenics repertoire. Watch him in action above, then read about his commitment to good health here:
How important is staying fit?
It’s a huge element in my life; I am lost without it. I work out or train five to six days a week. I call it my
“moving meditation”. If I don’t get a workout in – even on a rest day – I am not 100% sound.
What prompted your commitment to a healthy lifestyle?
I grew up in New York City, where vices are abundant and easily attainable. I had a lot of fun, but realized
that I needed to change, so at 23 years old I made a decision – I stopped drinking and using drugs, and began exercising and taking life seriously. Exercise taught me a discipline I could not have gotten anywhere else. More than anything, though, it taught me self-belief.
What’s your ultimate healthy food?
I have a love affair with fruits and vegetables, more so than anything else. I can’t eat enough broccoli (I know, crazy). I have been that way since I was a child. My mother tells me stories about how weird she thought it was that I wanted salad and fruit as a kid much more then meat and junk. I eat a ton of fish regularly and meat on the weekends.
What’s your go-to Meatball Shop meal?
I love the Everything But The Kitchen Sink Salad with veggie balls and pesto sauce. So damn delicious and healthy.
Shop the looks at MrPorter.com.
Do you find it difficult to live a healthy life in an industry built around late hours and delicious food?
I don’t find it difficult actually. Health and fitness make up a huge part of who I am as an individual. The menu at the Meatball Shop is designed after a healthy way to eat. The menu is broken up into protein, starch, veggies, dessert and drinks. What you eat, and how much of it, is entirely up to you. As for the long hours, well, this is life. You get out what you put in. If I were a doctor, lawyer or financier, I would be working just as long and hard. Luckily, I work in an industry where the things I’m passionate about – food, fashion, people and music – are at the forefront.
What are some of your healthiest habits?
I am a creature of habit, I always eat the same breakfast and lunch. I always start my day with a healthy breakfast: two apples cut into cubes with two tablespoons of non-fat Greek yogurt, a quarter cup of my wife's homemade muesli and a very small drizzle of agave. For lunch, I always eat at the Meatball Shop and have a Kitchen Sink salad with veggie balls and pesto sauce. I also have a morning calisthenics routine that gets me going. It consists of 200 push ups broken up into four sets of 50 (different types), and 600 varied ab reps broken up into sets of 150. I do 50 push ups then 150 abs, with no breaks until I get to 200 and 600. I don't drink or use drugs. Finally, whenever I eat out I habitually choose the healthiest thing on the menu.
How do you keep your regime varied?
I try to run three to four days a week – running has been a passion of mine for a long time. I have been doing Muay Thai kickboxing for eight years, and do that four days a week as well. And if I’m feeling stressed I use the boxing room at Equinox to get it all out.
How do you fit going to the gym around a busy lifestyle?
For the most part I always manage to fit the gym into my schedule. If I know I can’t, I make sure to get up early for a quick run over the bridge and a 15-minute calisthenic routine.
What’s the best part of your day?
I would have to say the best part of my day is when my wife and I get to eat breakfast together, even though I am working away at the computer, I get to spend the first few hours of my day with the woman I love most.
Read more from Michael, including his original approach to style.