New York restaurateur Shelly Fireman, who oversees Bond 45, Brooklyn Diner, Red Eye Grill and Florian says he keeps on top of things by being in the best shape possible
Some people overcome the midday slump at work with caffeine. Shelly Fireman re-energizes by hopping on the elliptical machine in his office.
Mr. Fireman, in his late 70s one of New York City’s most successful restaurateurs, puts in double workout sessions on most days. “I make time for it because I want to stay alive. And to stay alive I need to take away some of the stress in my life,” says Mr. Fireman, founder and chief executive of Fireman Hospitality Group, whose high-traffic Manhattan eateries include Bond 45, Brooklyn Diner, Red Eye Grill and most recently Florian.
To keep pace in the frenetic restaurant world, Mr. Fireman wakes up at 4 a.m., reads at least three newspapers over a cup of tea and then works out at his home gym. By about 3 p.m., he’s ready for another dose of exercise.
“At that point in my day things get a little crazy, and there’s nothing like 30 minutes of exercise to get you back on track and feeling good,” Mr. Fireman says. “This way I don’t put stress on others.”
Mr. Fireman invested in outfitting his homes in Manhattan, Bedford, N.Y. and Italy with identical gyms, so he never has an excuse to fall out of his routine. He also keeps kettlebells and an elliptical machine in his office.
“Everyone in the office thinks I’m nuts,” he says. “I just ask them why they don’t work out in the office.” When his CFO replied that he didn’t have time, Mr. Fireman bought him a treadmill desk. “He can now walk and work,” Mr. Fireman says.
There are no showers at the office, but Mr. Fireman has a private bathroom and always keeps clean towels on hand. “I do the sink shower and I’m fine,” he says. “Luckily I’m not a smelly exerciser.”
Two to three time a week, Mr. Fireman meets with a personal trainer in his home gym. “I like that he always has new moves up his sleeve so I’m always learning new exercises and being challenged,” he says. On days when he feels a bit run down, he’ll ease up his routine, but he won’t sleep in or skip a day. “You can’t be successful if you lead a sluggish life,” Mr. Fireman says.
Every workout is different, but they all usually start with 20 minutes of walking or jogging on the treadmill or pedaling on an Expresso interactive stationary bike, which is programmed with graphics and simulates pedal resistance for more than 40 virtual rides. Using the screen attached to the bike, Mr. Fireman follow cycling routes from the Alps to a coastal path around Sydney, Australia.
Next he spends 10 minutes doing three or four exercises that target one or two specific muscle groups, such as squats, lunges and leg presses for legs. The workout ends with 200 push-ups; some days he does them while wearing a backpack with weighted ankle straps inside for an added challenge.
Mr. Fireman’s workouts include dynamic stretching, such as walking across the room while pulling each knee up and in to his chest. Workouts often focus on the core and might include bridges and planks. Mr. Fireman then does a circuit of functional full-body exercises with an emphasis on leg strength. Exercises incorporate resistance bands, dumbbells and kettlebells. He might do squats while holding kettlebells, or walk across the room sideways with a resistance band around his ankles. He’ll then perform lunges on different planes of motion, or squats, while balancing on DynaDiscs, which are inflated circular cushions. Training sessions end with passive stretching.
At the office Mr. Fireman likes to hop on his elliptical to clear his mind and melt away work stress. He often adds a few strength exercises to the end of the cardio workout. For example, if he did legs in the morning, he might use the kettlebells to do some triceps extensions and shoulder presses at the office.
Most mornings, Mr. Fireman has vegetable soup with quinoa or brown rice. “It’s a very dull breakfast,” he admits. Sometimes he’ll “cheat” and go to Brooklyn Diner where he likes to order smoked salmon on a bagel, or whole grain pancakes made with soy milk. Lunch is often whole grain pasta. For the past seven years he has followed a mostly vegetarian diet, with the exception of the smoked salmon and an occasional taste of pastrami. He says chocolate is his weakness. “I have one piece and then I eat four more,” he says.
Cost & Gear
Mr. Fireman estimates that he spends up to $15,000 a year on personal training. Each of his three homes has a treadmill and an Expresso bike, which retails for about $8,250. He also has kettlebells, balance boards, medicine balls, exercise balls, a massage table and a Smith machine, which is a barbell fixed within steel rails. He works out in Nike Free 4.0 sneakers, which retail for around $100. “Since I work out at home, I wear shabby stuff like T-shirts that are 20 years old. I’m not impressing anyone,” he says. At the office he works out in black Lululemon attire.
“I love quiet,” he says. “I like to listen to my breathing and I can tell my heart rate based on my breathing.”