(So)(Co) Sit Down with Helaine Knapp

I'm super excited to share this week's (So)(Co) Sit Down with you. I met Helaine Knapp while we were both working in the Client Services department at Buddy Media (acquired by Salesforce). I'd like to think we bonded because we each had a huge energetic personality, major sense of humor and a vast vocabulary that included Jewish phrases and slang. Who knows?! Needless to say, after working together, Helaine moved on to open up the smashingly successful, CITYROW. It has been amazing to watch this group fitness studio grow and expand over the past year or so since its inception and I love what Helaine has created! She's helped people transform their lives and truly love their high intensity and low-impact workout. 

Join me on this journey of sharing stories and inspiring one another to be the best version of ourselves in our everyday lives.

Read on to learn more about Helaine Knapp.

How do you spend your days?

Honestly, everyday is wildly different, but there's normally a work block in the morning before I head out for meetings and to the studio -  we don't have a traditional "office" so I learned really fast that once I leave the house, very little work is getting done!

What are three things you are grateful for?

A. My Family B. The CITYROW Team C. Good health for A&B

Explain your lifestyle in 5 words or less.

Striving for balance.

If you were to attend a potluck dinner, what would you bring?

Cheese & wine.

If you could gift everyone you meet with one book, what would it be and why?

a. If you haven’t read Harry Potter, you should.

b. I’m pretty into the Humans of New York book – it shows perspective, diversity and perseverance. Not to mention it's about New York – and I’m pretty into this city.

What is the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?

Coffee, preferably espresso.

If you could change one thing in your daily routine, what would it be? What would it take for you to make that change?

I could probably do without so much coffee, but I love it so I am not planning to make any changes anytime soon. Aside from that, I could probably put the phone away a little earlier in the evening/not check it first thing in the morning, but that's the nature of my job, so I'll embrace it for now.

What does healthy mean to you?


Have you ever been face with health concerns that pushed you to change your lifestyle? Explain.

Oh, yea. Back surgery five weeks after opening CITYROW... how long do you have? A little over two years ago I found out that I had three herniated discs in my lower back that forced me to change my exercise routine - which led me to rowing -  and eventually to CITYROW. As I started building CITYROW, I tried to ease the pain with physical therapy and a change of routine, but right after we opened CITYROW and quit my job (yes, I worked at an amazing tech company until I literally could not anymore) one of the herniated discs ruptured and they had to go in and fix it. As crazy and traumatic as it was - especially right after quitting my job and launching a brand new fitness concept - it was humbling and forced me to put myself first. It was a very long journey and took tons of rehab, physical therapy and amazing personal trainers to build back up the strength that I'd lost. The frustration of not being able to work out - let alone physically be a part of the concept that I'd poured endless amounts of time and energy into was beyond difficult, but ultimately is part of the journey that led me to creating something that was not only a fun total body workout, but safe and low-impact in a way to prevent others from injury.

What song can immediately change your mood in the best way possible?

Anything Footloose. It takes me right back to impromptu dance parties in high school practicing for our senior musical. Let’s just say some of us were more talented singers than others, but it was epic fun.

What is one piece of advice someone has given you that shifted your way of thinking?

"What are you going to remember in 10 years?"

What article of clothing/outfit do you feel most empowered wearing?

An amazing pair of leggings, off the shoulder shirt and my Nesh hoodie... oh and a fresh blowout, yes, DryBar is my happy place.

Complete this sentence: "In order to be happy, I need to..."

I'd say I'm pretty happy right now. I know I need to set aside time to really check out and re-charge - a weekend away with close friends alway does the trick. 

What do you have going on in your life that you'd like to share with the (So)(Co) Community? 

CITYROW just just had its one year anniversary in Union Square with a second Manhattan location in the works and Hampton pop-up on the horizon! 

HELAINE KNAPP Founder & CEO of CITYROW - After spending a few years climbing the corporate ladder at Conde Nast and Reader’s Digest, Helaine Knapp left the world of publishing for start-up life.  She became hooked on group fitness while working as a client services executive at Buddy Media (which sold to Salesforce.com for $800MM in 2012) and Olapic. After months of spin and boot camp classes left her with new friends, but underwhelming results and lower back pain, she began searching for a workout that was high intensity, low impact and total body.  A personal trainer friend suggested she try rowing.  She initially rejected rowing as something “my dad did in college”, but a few workouts changed her mind and the concept for CITYROW was born.  Months of research, training and program development followed. 

In January 2014, CITYROW opened its doors in Union Square in New York City. In just six months, CITYROW has held over 2000 classes, welcomed almost 10000 new clients and quickly developed a dedicated following.  It has been featured in Harpers Bazaar, Shape, Vogue, People and more. 


 Helaine Knapp: Instagram & Twitter 

CityRow: Instagram, Twitter,  Facebook & Website