Julia Neyman paid for this drink.jpgLast time we checked in with Columbia law student Julia Neyman, she was sweating her way through a year-long exercise regimen. Her new year’s resolutions were similar to many: she resolved to exercise more and spend less money. Her unique inspiration, though, was to combine these two resolutions into one: she spent 2010 working out at gyms around Manhattan — gyms that usually charge a pretty penny — for free, taking advantage of promotions and trial memberships. She then blogged about her adventures on Buns of Steal.

We thought it was a brilliant idea. (If nothing else, it seemed like a clever campaign to shame Columbia into upgrading its “dark and dank” student gym.) Others were more critical, calling her a “mooching” “gym grifter.” Neyman says, though, that gyms were “actually really on board with the project.”

Other potential grifters, we advise you start blogs. Neyman says: “I’ve consistently gotten emails and offers from gyms offering for me to come in and work out for free. It was a win-win because for the gyms, my blog was like free advertising.”

Well, now the year is up. Neyman had planned to buy a membership to her favorite gym — revealed after the jump — but instead she has fled to Paris for the semester, where she is helping to turn Frenchmen against lawyers…

We checked in with her for a debriefing on her year-long hunt for NYC’s best gym. Here’s our Q and A:

KASH: You say Reebok Sports Club and David Barton Gym (a.k.a. “the small penis gym”) are tied for best in New York. How did they make your final cut?

JULIA: Those two clubs stuck out to me because they were nice, had great classes and weren’t pretentious. Reebok was just beautiful. It was in its own league. The facilities were immaculate, the classes were really good, Lincoln Center is such a great central location, and it had a sick roof deck. My only hesitation with Reebok would be the price… I don’t remember exactly how much it was, but even with a corporate rate or a student rate it was more than $200 a month, which is pretty egregious.

DBG was slightly more affordable and had this cool, funky vibe. It was crazy: there was a DJ spinning inside the gym, which was nuts. But yeah, the classes were intense enough, and it was a good atmosphere.

KASH: Is it going to be hard to pay for a gym now that you’ve gotten used to going for free?

JULIA: I don’t think it’ll be hard to start paying for a gym. I have absolutely no problem paying for a membership, especially next year when I won’t be a poor student anymore! I could have never tried out so many gyms last year, had I had to pay for them, but in principle I have no issue paying for a membership: I’ve had gym memberships in the past, and had a membership to my Bikram Yoga studio, Bikram Yoga Harlem, until I worked out a work-study arrangement with them.

KASH: You’ve already managed to cause one Frenchman to hate lawyers and law students. What else can we expect to hear about on your new blog?

JULIA: Exciting tales of my misadventures in Europe. Food. Travel. Probably not much fitness… the new blog is just an informal way for me to keep writing and keep my friends and family informed about my whereabouts while I’m abroad. It’ll be way more ad hoc than Buns of Steal… but hopefully still entertaining.

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Neyman has swapped out Buns of Steal for Buns of Brie, where she will document her Parisian adventures — which will mainly involve undoing her efforts of 2010. She writes: “I spent a year getting fit, so now you guys get to watch me spend a semester getting fat (kidding! I hope…).”

As anyone who’s read Adam Gopnik’s fabulous and hilarious essay on French gyms in From Paris to the Moon knows, Europeans hold more disdain for treadmills and ellipticals than they do for George Bush and Americans’ incorrect use of the word “football.” When I used to go running in a small town outside of Florence, cars would either almost swerve into me in disbelief or stop and ask who I was running from. Expect to hear more about profiteroles than Pilates on Neyman’s new blog.

After Paris and graduation, Neyman has a job lined up at a firm. We look forward to reading “Buns of Biglaw” in the near future.

Whereby I get kicked out of my first Paris Apartment [Buns of Brie]
The End [Buns of Steal]

Earlier: Columbia 2L Julia Neyman and Her ‘Buns of Steal’


Kashmir Hill is an editor emeritus at Above the Law. She’s now at Forbes writing about privacy, and the lack thereof, in the digital age.


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