If you so happen to be in NYC this winter and your winter coat doesn’t ahem, necessarily come off at night with your suit, then the New York Athletic Club is the place to visit. Not only has this place become an institution in the elite sporting world, boasting over two hundred Olympic medals (forty members participated at the Beijing Olympics) and catering to many of the world’s most famous athletes, it is one of an increasingly rare type of club where its heritage feel and homely atmosphere haven’t fallen prey to bland, sterile décor.

Founded way back when in 1868 by a group of athletic-minded men seeking to develop and spread organised sport across the United States, the NYAC was instrumental in the popularisation of many team sports Americans pursue today. Competitive fencing was introduced by NYAC members to America, the first squash courts were laid at the club as well as the first bicycle races were organised from there.

You’ll be itching to try out one of the many, many sporting activities on offer in the cavernous, twenty-four story building directly opposite Central Park. Take out your anger in a wrestling competition in the Club’s basement or some great city views from the sun-roof. Better yet, shake off the freezing NYC winter in the sauna and steam rooms overlooking Central Park.  Or head straight for the grill and cocktail bar on the ground floor.

If you’re more of a great-outdoors type, the NYAC also has a guest facility cum Chalet on Travers Island where you can enjoy yacht racing, rowing, rugby, lacrosse and an Olympic sized swimming pool. It also runs children’s day camps if you need to lose the kids for a day. A weekend at Travers is a great way to recharge and enjoy a break from the city that never sleeps.

Finally, just a few words of advice. The NYAC, like Pugnacious George, expects its followers to maintain a certain level of dress and sophistication at its’ venues and so don’t think you can show up in your flip-flops and gym gear. As befits a club of its age and renown, the NYAC maintains a dress code of (at the minimum) a blazer and pants or business casual if coming from work during the week. There’s a no jeans policy at all times and don’t complain, there’s a dress code for women too. However come dinnertime, pull out a nice tie, see George’s favourite ties, and take your date to the member’s dining room. It is certain to impress her almost as much as your gym fit self.

09 November 2011
New York Athletic Club
180 Central Park South New York 10803 NY www.nyac.org
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