Here at Edible, we love to share the stories of how our region eats and the people responsible for feeding us. We also love to shine a light on the health of our waters, our land, and the people dedicated to improving and protecting the futures of both.
These are important stories for a thousand reasons, but one of the most important among them is this: The health of our environment and food system is often mirrored in the mental and physical health of all of us.
So, yes, we are often preoccupied by the ways in which we feed our minds and bodies—something we share in common with Sag Harbor’s Ari Weller, founder of Philosofit.
Edible’s own Stephen Munshin—this magazine’s publisher—first met Ari through their respective sons’ Little League team, where they quickly discovered that the philosophy behind Ari’s training aligned perfectly with our values here at Edible. This eventually led Stephen to sign up for a series of training sessions with Ari, an experience he found enlightening.
Since then, Ari has appeared on the Dr. Oz show, where he was able to share Philosofit with a national audience—but with his studio based in East Hampton, the East End remains firmly his home.
Stephen recently sat down with Ari to discuss how Philosofit got started, how its movement-based approach can help its practitioners unlock new levels of fitness while preventing injury, healthy eats on the East End, and more. Here’s what they said.
Stephen Munshin: Philosofit really differentiates itself from so many other training programs by prioritizing the basics of movement. It’s a very fine-tuned approach— especially when compared to the typical “brute force” routines promoted by so many gyms. How did you come to develop this methodology?
Ari Weller: Philosophy is the study of wisdom and Philosofit is a blending of the smartest body wisdom I’ve learned over the course of my 22-year career. I was once into the “brute force” methods of training, and I did achieve some superficial results from it, but I also acquired a lot of very serious and debilitating injuries that could have been avoided. My body was like most bodies—not prepared for the high intensity of the “brute force” workouts, and, as a result, headed towards injury. I’ve been my own laboratory, through training myself and facilitating over 80,000 hours of private sessions with clients. What we focus on at Philosofit is this: So many of us are deficient in the “basics of movement” and in order for us to have maximum fitness with minimum wear and tear we need to train from the inside-out; we need better joint function, range of motion and baseline movement skills. We need to need to prioritize the internal as well as the cosmetic external. I train people to have both. Why not?
SM: What would you say are the top misconceptions about what it takes to increase your physical fitness level?
AW: We know more about the body than at any other time in history. Everyday we are blasted with fitness advice, social media fitness celebrities, and more; gyms and studios are popping up on every corner—yet despite all of this, latest statistics show that we are fatter and more injured than ever. All of our advancements in food, industrialization and technology have come at the cost of a body function primal humans had. In my opinion, the commercialization and misguidance of quick fixes have attributed to an ever growing rate of sports related injuries, opiod pain addictions and joint replacements. We’ve allowed ourselves to be manipulated by the “fake news” of the fitness industry! It’s a sales machine designed to feed our insecurities and immediate gratification culture. We’ve lost the art of natural movement and play. All of the information has caused nothing but mass confusion. We need to make better decisions and re-learn the art of listening to our body’s needs rather than its wants. Just like Edible East End, Philosofit focuses on the quality over quantity.
SM: How would you recommend people actually become fit? What about Philosofit helps people achieve their fitness goals?
AW: As I mentioned, we need to learn to listen to ourselves and our individual bodies—whether you’re a high-level athlete or an aging boomer. Whether your goal is to pick up first downs or pick up your grandkids, you need to assess function. Most people are pushing to achieve a level of fitness at the gym or in group classes, driving their bodies blindfolded and without brakes. Becoming fit to me means you don’t get hurt. Philosofit individually customizes your fitness programming for the long haul of life. Even top athletes and trainers have difficulty figuring out how to do that by themselves. By getting assessed by a qualified movement specialist you map out an intelligent plan to achieve both short-term and long-term goals.
SM: Just as staying fit requires discipline and practice, so too does nutrition and eating well. Where are some of your favorite places on the East End for healthy meals?
AW: I live in Sag Harbor and Philosofit is in East Hampton so I often enjoy healthy meals at Provisions, Harbor Market, Simply Sublime and Organic Krush.
SM: Philosofit is rightfully renowned for its hyper-individual approach to fitness. Do you approach nutrition similarly? Should individuals eat in a way that’s unique to their needs—or is there a one-size-fits-most meal plan?
AW: I’ve never liked one-size-fits-all anything. I want my clothes, my exercise and my food to fit me perfectly. Why not? And just as I stated with fitness we need to know how to listen to our bodies in regards to food. I’m a huge fan of the simplicity and wisdom of the Indian Ayurvedic system where you eat based on your individual constitution. By paying attention, you’ll notice what foods make you thirsty, bloated, tired and anxious, as well as what foods make you energized, content and calm. If your eating is not balanced, your body and mind will not be either.
SM: When did you found Philosofit? What was your professional path on the way towards starting it?
AW: In a way Philosofit was created 20 years ago. That’s when I came up with the name, which was intended to be a book idea. I worked for myself as a freelance trainer in New York City, the Berkshires and out here on the East End. The studio itself opened 6 years ago this coming February. It was finally time to settle down and manifest my vision.
SM: And finally, I have to ask: What are your goals for the future?
AW: My number one goal is to continue to do the work we are doing with the highest level of integrity. And we need to keep learning, keep our minds open to new science and ideas. And I just appeared on an episode of The Dr. Oz Show. The response was amazing and the amount of people who have now downloaded our free videos at Philosofit.com is astounding. I’d like to continue sharing what I’ve learned and teach our clients and others outside of our community.
This interview has been edited and condensed.