Helaine Knapp: Founder & CEO, CITYROW

Helaine Knapp is Founder & CEO of CITYROW, the fitness phenomenon that combines high intensity intervals and sexy water-based row machines with dynamic strength training for the ultimate total body workout. Prior to her reign as the queen of the WaterRower, Knapp, spent a number of years climbing the corporate ladder at Conde Nast, Reader’s Digest, Buddy Media (which sold to Salesforce.com for $800MM in 2012) and Olapic (which sold to Monotype for $120MM in 2016). During this time, Knapp fell in love with group fitness. But, years of spinning and bootcamp classes left Knapp with lower back pain and minimal results. She set out to find a better and smarter way to maximize results and still enjoy group exercise, and uncovered a tried-and-true fitness tool, the rower. From there, Knapp made it her mission to make rowing sexy again, and thus, CITYROW was born in January of 2014.

Now in its fifth year, CITYROW has three locations (two in New York City and one in Ann Arbor, Mich.), and growing. The brand continues to deliver on its cult following, bringing CITYROW to consumers nationwide in a number of ways. In late 2018, the brand will launch its first digital, at-home offering, CITYROW GO, enabling consumers to take a CITYROW class on-demand, no matter their location, through a proprietary app. The brand is also franchising, with plans to have more than 50+ CITYROW franchise locations open within the next year.

What do you love most about Your City?

There is nowhere like NYC and not enough words to describe my love for it (ok, maybe frustration at times) but the hustle is ALIVE and there’s nowhere else you can have everything at your fingertips with endless opportunities. The energy is alive at every time of day, there’s always something to go and do, AND you can ALWAYS get food delivered – what more do you need?

Favorite breakfast meal & restaurant?

I’m a huge fan of Irving Farm – lately very into their yogurt & granola!

What are you doing at:

6:00 AM – Sleeping, I get up around 7 :)

7-10 AM is my favorite time of day. It’s time that I reserve just for myself. I try and not schedule things during that time so that I can prioritize myself. I usually use that time to go for a walk in the park and/or workout, clear my head, mentally prepare for the day, catch up on emails and map out the day ahead. I think it’s so important to take a beat every day that is just for you.

10:00 AM – I roll in FIRED up, caffeinated, and ready to go at the office.

12:00 PM – It’s all about that Sweetgreen life! I’m a huge fan of their seasonal menu – but I’ve been loyal to the Guac Greens since I visited my first one in DC well before it came to NYC!

7:00 PM -  Dinner with Friends. My life is all about working hard and playing hard, so I need to get QT in with my friends too! Hopefully we’re getting some of the best pizza in NYC  - Keste & Emily are my absolute favorites. If it’s not pizza, it’s probably sushi – Yama, Sugarfish and Poke on the UES (cash only but totally worth it!)

11:00 PM – I better be asleep - or almost asleep! I prioritize those 8 hours!

What drink do you need to get through the day and at the end (and how many)?

Tons of water and coffee religiously, but two cups are my limit and never after 2pm (or I’ll never sleep!)

Most used App/Favorite Instagram Account?

Most used app is probably our Business Manager for MindBody – it’s how I keep track of the business and am looking at classes constantly! From there it’s email, Instagram and our new CITYROW app - coming soon!

What should everyone try at least once?


Where do you enjoy getting lost?

Central Park – there’s so many nooks and hidden gems. Anytime I’m in nature, I want to find a way to stay.