Fitness Fridays: Coaches Behind Angela Simmons’s Go-To Gym, PRX, Are Helping Women Keep Their Curves And Look Good Naked All Year Round
“There’s nothing like what we do in the world.”
That’s what Yusef Myers told me after I had completed perhaps one of the most intense workout classes I’d done in a long time, maybe ever. Myers, creator and owner of PRX (which stands for Pure Results X-treme), alongside co-owner (NJ) and coach Cliff Randall, led the hour-long class, which consisted of a little bit of everything cardio and resistance training related. We did a lot of jump squats (in different directions, too), we hopped on huge fan resistance exercise bikes, pushed ourselves on self-propelled treadmills, used cable machines and even ran around the block a few times to get a complete burn. Myers was right, there is certainly nothing like it, particularly when it comes to Black-owned fitness studios.
That’s probably why PRX, which has two locations, including the new one in New Jersey’s Fort Lee Hudson Lights area (open a few months) and in NYC’s Inwood (open five years), draws so many guests. There are celebrities who have come to train with the guys, including Angela Simmons, a regular when in town, and former Orange Is the New Black star Dascha Polanco. Everyday people can’t get enough of it, either. In just over a month of being open when I visited the Hudson Lights location in September, I was told that they had brought in around 175 people. That quick success can be attributed to a multitude of things, including the state-of-the-art equipment and technology that assists in the workouts. You can also credit that to the diverse and unique class listing, which includes everything from “Abs + Azz” to “X-treme HIIT.” It also doesn’t hurt that the founders, who lead many of the class offerings, have incredible energy and warm personalities. You get up close with them even in the packed group setting.
“It’s fully classes. We found it better for people to get higher results in a group setting than one on one,” said Randall. “It’s more motivation, it’s a little competitive, which is really good and the energy is a lot better. When you see a like-minded person like yourself and you see them struggling with you, you think, ‘I can do this as well.'”
The guys eat, sleep and breathe fitness, and have been doing so for years. Myers actually created PRX after struggling with his own weight and body image in college following the death of his mother.
“We all struggle,” he said. “I went through a heavy phase. I was 255. I was obese. I lost the weight. I was anorexic. I went through the emotional rollercoaster of looking at myself and not being happy. We all go through it.”
He put on 70 pounds in just a few months and since it was before the Google age, he wasn’t sure how to go about cleaning up his diet and finding the right exercises for his once heavily overweight frame. He felt there was no formula, so he created it. Before Myers knew it, he was training other everyday people, and then ended up on TV, training for the MTV show I Used to Be Fat. He went from running his own classes outside in parks in Washington Heights to school gyms and eventually, his first location in Inwood.
Randall, who’d actually known Myers since they were young, partnered with him to take PRX to the next level. With a background in sports performance, working alongside Division I athletes and being the regional director for a major fitness company, he brought his expertise of training athletes to Myers’s growing fitness company five years ago. He was drawn by the intensity level of the classes, as well as the “dedication, the passion and the commitment that people were actually providing. And the results were really good.”
Together, they’ve opened the stunning Hudson Lights location. Inside of it, both men have put together 14-day challenges they offer new clientele (that come with a meal plan) as well as a week’s worth of vigorous classes that have drawn a committed clientele and created a number of very impressive transformation photos posted all over their Instagram page. The results come from not just focusing on cardio, as so many studios and gyms do, but also embracing classes filled with and focused on resistance training.
“It became body building in a group setting,” Myers said. “We truly created our own formula that doesn’t really exist and that’s how we maximize our results.”
“We have a whole resistance room,” Randall continued. “They’re dropping body fat at a very high rate.”
And while everything offered is hard, from the 14-day challenges, which come at different levels and are great for beginners, to the classes, they don’t burn you out. They’re not interested in doing so.
“Don’t compromise you because you feel like you can’t stop. You can actually stop,” Randall said. “You’re going to have to stop. You have lactic acid buildup, and guess what? You’re tired. So once you become tired, we want you to recover, reset and then go back when you’re ready.”
Their methods make clientele happy. Many women members are especially happy when they find that they’re able to drop the pounds and build the muscle, but keep their curves. It’s what keeps Simmons and many more ladies signed up.
“We focus on that,” Randall said. “One of our best classes is called ‘Abs and Azz.’ We want you to keep your curves. We take pride in getting you natural results.”
“Kick backs, hip thrusts, putting a resistance band around your knees and going with the abduction exercises,” Myers said. “There’s a million exercises you can do, and we do them all here.”
The big goal for all those who walk through the door though, whether you want to keep your booty or pack on the pounds in muscle, is to feel your best at all times. The guys aren’t fans of people waiting for spring to look good only in summer. Instead, they say you should be working hard to look damn good year-round, and those who come to PRX are doing just that.
“One of the first things we say is you want to look good naked all year round,” Randall said. “Let’s live our best life now. Let’s not wait until later. Let’s be more conscious of what we’re putting into our body. Let’s enjoy spring and summer. Everybody wants to come in during the spring for the summer. No, at PRX, we enjoy winter, spring, summer and fall. We’re saying live your best life all year round. Don’t settle and don’t feel you can’t because it’s getting cold.”
The goal for the coaches, however, is making a difference. They have two locations down and are looking to open their next spaces in Brooklyn and Los Angeles down the line. From there, Myers is hoping to take something that started off small and grew incredibly, to a global level.
“I want to be able to help the general population, not the athlete. I want that person who has never stepped into the gym to feel comfortable in our setting and become that athlete and become comfortable in any setting whether they go back to another gym or they go anywhere else. They’re prepared to do what they need,” he said. “It will change the world. It will minimize the obesity epidemic one city at a time, one state at a time, one country at a time until we become the top Black-owned fitness company.”