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Who We Are

Above all, we are just two people who love exercise.

Always intense

Stuart Miller

I read a good book recently called, “We Begin at the End.” So let’s do that…

If you build it, they will come.” After dreaming of my own personal training facility for over forty years, on November 14th, 2022 I found it. Well, let’s just say I envisioned it. Ok, now let’s backtrack.

I guess it comes down to a simple choice really; get busy living or get busy dying.” After a wonderful 34-and-a-half year career teaching Physical Education to learning disabled and emotionally disturbed students in a New York City public high school, I retired on August 19th, 2018. When I went for my retirement consultation, the kind woman said, “You earned it; you deserve it; go enjoy it.” Unfortunately, I didnt. I became increasingly depressed. I had stopped training people a few years earlier, not wanting to be an old trainer in a young field - even though I was in better shape than anyone I knew. I had no interests or hobbies; exercise was my life. But slowly my body was aging and the three hour workouts every day were taking their toll. Every day when Linda left at 7 in the morning, she would ask, “Are you going to be ok?” She was  worried about a young man who had retired at an early age.


I am building it, I hope you come.

Growing up, I was a great athlete; all five feet, five inches of me. I played everything and excelled at everything. Choosing baseball, I entered college near my home in New Jersey on a full scholarship. Having never studied (why would I have to - I was going to be a baseball player), my plans changed rather quickly when three months later the coach called me over and said, “See that building over there, Mr. Miller? That is the library. If I were you, I would spend more time there because you are never going to be a baseball player.”

 

Having been brought up by two very liberal parents, I was shown New York City at an early age. We took trips  into the East Village, especially the theater on Christopher Street where plays at the Lucille Lortel theater included Equis, Streamers and Jesus Christ Superstar. I remember having dinner across from the theater at Davids Potbelly, ice cream at Häagen-Dazs and bringing home chocolate from Lilac Chocolate. My parents taught me how to be tolerant of others. It seemed logical that  I would go back to the city at an early age. My friend David was living in a railroad flat on top of a belt buckle shop between The Ramrod and Badlands - two of the most famous NYC bars - in the heart of Christopher Street. Sitting on his four-foot balcony, I looked out and saw the beautiful bodies that walked by. In my opinion, it wasn’t Muscle Beach in California that started the fitness craze; it was right in front me, on the men of Christopher Street. “I want one of those bodies,” I said to myself. Having never lifted a weight (I wrestled at 114 lbs. in high school and I was 132 lbs. after a huge meal), I set out on a lifetime journey in the world of bodybuilding and weight lifting.

One of my many comebacks during COVID

My first stop was the Apple Health and Fitness Center on Thompson Street (not affiliated with the decades later Apple that we all now know). The job of trainer was a new concept. I had taught tennis, I had taught racquetball and I was great with people, so when I walked in they hired me on the spot. Until the gym closed years later (more on that in a minute) I had my dream job; lifting, training people and hanging out in the Village (and occasionally commuting back to college). My early recollections are of training Fred Shneider, the lead singer of the B-52's after their hit song Rock Lobster came out, and being introduced to his friend Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders. There was a pool at the Apple Health and Fitness Center in the basement and often, after hours, let’s just say it became a neighborhood “hang out.” In less than three months I had gained ten pounds of muscle and in the next three years I would be a solid 165 lb. monster, benching 225 for ten reps, visiting gyms and honing my craft in New York City. One day, coming into work I noticed a group of people outside. “What's up?” I asked. It seemed that the Apple Health and Fitness Center was ahead of its time in many ways; the owners had put together a gigantic sign-up sale offering a very low membership price and after signing up many, many clients, declared bankruptcy and closed their doors.


My father - a pioneer in the field of special education - although tolerant of others was not tolerant of me. My mom and dad had put up with me being a jock - a Jewish one at that - but it was time for a real job. New York University was offering a Master’s program in a new field called Adaptive Physical  Education. I applied and was accepted. While taking the courses, I also received a degree in Recreational Therapy; my idea was to teach childern for 30 years and then move to Florida and work at Century Village, teaching adults. The only problem is, I don’t really like Florida lol.

In 1987, when I finished the Master’s degree, I began teaching. I was one of the original twelve who began the Special Olympics in New York City.

June 20th, 2018 was "Stuart Miller Appreciation Day" in New York City for all of the children that I taught and "rescued." But truthfully, they "rescued" me.

As my teaching career began , I also started working  in a gym on 57th and Second Avenue called The Excelsior Club. It was there that I would meet Linda and begin a new chapter. Training “Barbarians at the Gate,” clients, I was now working with a different type; no longer rockstars and East Villagers, but hedge fund “Richard Gere” like raiders. One day, having put an ad in the paper looking for aerobics instructors, Linda walked in. 98 lbs., she was a dancer and beautiful. "Ok," I said; "You can teach one or two classes. Do you have any friends for the other five?" "Oh no,"  she said. "Ill teach all seven." “That's humanly impossible," I said - but not for Linda.

1987 also began my journey into performance enhancing substances; I learned everything that there was. I was never of the opinion that if one was good, ten were better. I only took the minimum, getting maximum results. I reached a weight of 192 lbs., all of it solid muscle with 22 inch biceps. I was five feet tall and five feet wide. Huge is an understatement.

I was living in an apartment on the Upper East Side at the time and Linda moved in with me. She danced, I lifted and we worked at The Excelsior Club together. The Excelsior Club was the first club of its kind - a full service club catering to New York’s richest and most elite. It had a full time chef, a full time masseuse and a full time aromatherapist. We introduced the first air-assisted piece of gym equipment called the “Ariel” machine. Developed by Gideon Ariel, it was the template for all of the later air-assisted equipment that we now see. One day when Linda and I arrived, much like what had happened years before, there was police tape in front of the entrance and the gym was closed; it seemed that the owners had "forgotten," to pay taxes.

Having become friends with an iconic New York family, the Tischs, we were invited to work at the
Regency Hotel, part of the Lowes Corporation and owned by the Tisch family. It was there that we worked with presidents, actors/actresses and in my case, my idol. For 10 years, from 1990 - 2000, I taught during the day and worked at the Regency at night. It was at the Regency that I met Alexanrda Penney. Ms. Penney, as I still call her, became like a second mom. She was the editor of Self Magazine; a pioneer in fitness. She allowed me to be a contributing editor and put me on the cover of the yearly health and fitness issue. She called me her “stalwart” in a book she later wrote. I still call her Ms. Penney.

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The cover of a brochure that targeted actors, actresses and anyone who wanted an intense, six-week workout regiment. It was the beginning of my 36 session/week personal training business. The fitness craze had reached the condos and co-ops of New York City. Unlike The Moving Barn, I had to "maneuver" my way from client to client. The training business was wonderful; the travel gave me a nervous breakdown.

In 2000 our son Jake was born. We left the Regency and I “went out on my own.” I was training two people in the morning before school from 5:30 - 7:30, teaching from 8 - 3 and then training people again from 3:30 - 9:30. I was incredibly busy, incredibly happy and  was considered a top trainer in New York City. It was also in 2000 that I suffered my first lifting injury; I tore my bicep. Calling Linda, I asked, “Am I going to die?” As soon as she said no, I kept lifting. Surgery followed a week later. The next ten years of training clients would be a blessing; they became my family and they became my friends.

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During my last five years of teaching, I spent my lunch and prep periods at The Harvey Milk School on Astor Place, a few blocks from my high school. It is the foremost LGBTQ-centered high school in the country. Although a "straight jock," I taught Phys. Ed and Health. The principal, a dear friend, told me "only you could pull this off, Mr. Miller." For me, it was going back  / giving back to the early 80's on Christopher Street, where it all started

In 2007, I suffered a torn rotator cuff and a severely torn neck muscle (from shrugging small SUVs). I knew that my upper body had taken a lot of punishment from all of the years of heavy lifting; it was time to re-invent myself. Like Forest Gump, I started running and never looked back. Although at my peak I had squatted 605 lbs., my lower body was relatively unscathed by injury. Running came easy - I got very good, very fast. I ran two marathons in two weeks, 60 miles per week, faster faster faster. I went from 192 lbs. to 142 lbs.

I retired from training people in 2010. My mom had passed away and I had moved my father into an apartment a few blocks away from where Linda, Jake and  I lived. After school my father and I would "hang out." For the next five years, until he passed away in 2015, we spent wonderful and valuable time together.

I came out of training retirement twice, both times to train the son of  a father whom I had trained earlier. In both cases, the mother had passed away from breast cancer leaving the son distraught. I am proud of the four years that I spent with both boys, turning them into men and helping them achieve their lifetime goals. Both are doing incredibly well and still keep in touch. Young adults were always my passion. Sure, I was a “Physical Education teacher," but I was much more;  mentor, friend, father figure. When my son Jake and I would walk in the city, occasionally we would run into my former students. My high school students were often very tall and when Jake was young it would  sometimes be quite  frightening for him when a huge young man would come running towards us yelling, “Hi Coach, hi Coach!” (often in some of the worst neighborhoods of New York). These are memories I know Jake has, along with visiting my high school and growing up amongst my other “kids.”

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I was called "Coach," and this was my tiny office where lifetime memories were made.

Moving to Rockport in 2020, fleeing New York City from the virus, I met two wonderful people. One of them rented us  her home and the other lived across the street. Although we were all scared of each other (it was, of course, the height of COVID), they watched me run and watched me lift. It was soon after that I began to train both of them. One in her sixties and the other in his seventies, Debra and Dick rekindled my love of training. The wonderful part in training my dear friend, Dick, was that unlike the high-tech condos and co-ops, we trained in his bedroom while his wonderful wife gardened outside. We trained with simple dumbbells and a bench that he bought at Dick’s Sporting Goods. It was bare-bones training, but it was poetry when the two of us lifted together.

Moving back to New York City in July of 2021, Linda and I set out to find “our” home in Maine. On November 14th 2022, we did.
Thank you Mr. & Mrs. Winn.

So, we began at the end and will start again at the beginning. A new beginning. A new chapter. The Moving Barn. As Andy wrote to Red in The Shawshank Redemption - which I have quoted before - “Youve come this far, maybe you are willing to come a little further.”

Give me a call... Send me an email... Come out to visit The Moving Barn.

Address

51 Marcie Way

Ogunquit, Maine 03907

Phone

917-856-3421

Email

stuartandlinda@themovingbarn.com

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