What Does Mayor de Blasio Do at the Gym? He Runs New York

On most mornings, Mayor Bill de Blasio departs Gracie Mansion, the mayoral residence of New York City, in a black sport utility vehicle, accompanied by a police escort.

The caravan then makes the drive down the East Side of Manhattan, a ride familiar to his predecessors, before embarking on a detour: past City Hall, across the East River to his final destination, a Y.M.C.A. on Ninth Street in Park Slope, Brooklyn.

There, for an hour — and sometimes more — Mr. de Blasio runs the nation’s largest city from a gym mat. Or a stationary bicycle. Or the weight room.

For the entirety of his 30 months as mayor, the Y.M.C.A. gym has served as the center of a kind of Camp David for Mr. de Blasio, an archipelago of neighborhood haunts in a roughly three-block radius that was part of his pre-mayoral life and where he now routinely returns.

There is the Colson Patisserie, the mayor’s favorite morning stop; the S & S Cleaners; the nearby Brooklyn Public Library branch where Mr. de Blasio votes; the Little Purity Diner; and Bar Toto, where he has held meetings and made fund-raising calls.

The uniqueness of the mayor’s routine has been noted since his early days in office, before he and his family moved to Gracie Mansion from their Park Slope home. But close observation by a reporter for The New York Times, who is a fellow member of the Y.M.C.A., reveals it to be more rigid, lengthy and leisurely than previously known.

During a recent week, Mr. de Blasio did not miss a single workout — hitting the gym each and every weekday, usually leaving the mansion around 8 a.m. or a bit later.

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He texts and emails on his phone. He stretches. He reads sheets of paper and watches television news. He once appeared to be reviewing a speech or a policy brief.

No City Hall staff members came to speak with him nor did any other friends or associates. His wife, Chirlane McCray, accompanied him to the gym on two days, though they mostly worked out separately.

No one begrudges the mayor’s right to exercise, even though some may take issue with his choice of venue to do so. But his sojourn in Park Slope is hardly a solitary affair.

There is a security detail, as well as a rotating cast of staff members from his press office who stay either outside or across the street at the patisserie before accompanying him to City Hall or other events. One is assigned per day, said Eric F. Phillips, the mayor’s top spokesman, to help Mr. de Blasio “stay connected and efficient while he’s working out.”


Mr. de Blasio last week dropped off his laundry at S & S Cleaners, next door to the Y.M.C.A. It is one of several neighborhood businesses that the mayor visits regularly. CreditDave Sanders for The New York Times

Mr. Phillips adds that the mayor’s day starts “with calls, emails and briefings by 7 a.m.,” rarely ends before 9 p.m. and often extends into the weekend.

“Mayor Bloomberg had Bermuda; Mayor de Blasio has a corner coffee shop and Y in Brooklyn,” Mr. Phillips said, referring to Michael R. Bloomberg’s frequent weekend jaunts by private jet out of New York.

Mr. de Blasio, as it turns out, happened to have left the country on Sunday for a weeklong family vacation in Italy.

But in a normal week, the Prospect Park Y.M.C.A. and its environs clearly offer Mr. de Blasio a respite from the grind of city business, a place where the mayor has said he feels “grounded” and where he remains largely unaccosted for much of his workout. Fellow members of the gym largely ignore him, and Mr. de Blasio mostly keeps to himself.

The mayor has kept the routine even after facing criticism last year for remaining at the gym during a violent standoff in Staten Island in which a firefighter was shot. He also adheres to the daily journey even when Park Slope presents a significant detour.

Last Tuesday, for example, Mr. de Blasio traveled from the Upper East Side to Brooklyn, before reversing direction to head 15 miles north — straight past Gracie Mansion — to an event in the Bronx at 10:30 a.m.

The routine has also survived a raft of continuing investigations into the mayor’s fund-raising activities by state and federal prosecutors.

As recent observations showed, it is, in many respects, a routine that most busy people can only dream of.

In one week in late June, the mayor emerged on that Monday into the gym’s stretching area in a T-shirt, running shoes and khaki cargo shorts with pockets.

After 15 minutes of stretching and BlackBerry multitasking, he moved to the weight room. By 9:24 a.m., he was wearing headphones on a stationary bicycle, pedaling at a gentle pace while watching CNN. In the first-floor lobby, a communications adviser, Wiley Norvell, sat waiting for the mayor.

At 10:23 a.m., Mr. de Blasio exited the gym wearing a suit and got into a waiting car. Mr. Norvell got in the back seat next to him. Sixteen minutes later, the mayor’s office sent reporters a statement on the Supreme Court’s ruling on Texas abortion laws.

New Yorkers sometimes hear directly from their mayor while he is at the gym, as in one case when a prerecorded interview earlier that Tuesday aired at 9:30 a.m. on NY1. As his voice sounded on the television, Mr. de Blasio was working out.

The mayor also conducts his weekly radio appearances with Brian Lehrer, the WNYC host, from nearby — occasionally in his gym clothes. That Wednesday, he hustled from the stationary bicycle and out of the gym, still in his workout cargo shorts.

Minutes later, he was live on the air taking questions and calls from listeners. At the time, he was seated with his press secretary in a room at the library around the corner.

On his public schedules through May, the location for at least five previous interviews with Mr. Lehrer had been listed as the Park Slope Library, suggesting a quick trip there after the gym.

After the 30-minute segment, the car drove back to the gym so Mr. de Blasio could finish and change; he re-emerged in a suit at 11:06 a.m.

Mr. de Blasio, who sends emails to his staff throughout his workout, often does not arrive at City Hall until well after 10 a.m. On the Thursday of that week, when he got to the gym at 8:55 a.m., he walked into City Hall at exactly 11 a.m.

George Arzt, the press secretary for Mayor Edward I. Koch, said the days back then began early. “Koch was at the gym at 6 o’clock,” he said. “By 7:30 we were already having a staff meeting in his office.”

But the purpose of that meeting was a briefing of the morning newspapers, Mr. Arzt said, a task that Mr. de Blasio can accomplish himself from the gym mat or the back seat of his car. (Indeed, Mr. de Blasio’s schedules often begin with a late morning call en route around 9:30 or 10 a.m. with a press aide.)

When Mr. Bloomberg was mayor, he favored an early jog on a treadmill at his Upper East Side townhouse. (Mr. Bloomberg did not live at Gracie Mansion.)

William T. Cunningham, a former spokesman for Mr. Bloomberg, noted that Mr. de Blasio had “taken a lot of shots,” but said that his use of the Prospect Park Y.M.C.A. should not be among them.

“Give the man his gym,” he said. “If he doesn’t care what it looks like, why should we?”

Mr. Cunningham also suggested that New Yorkers should not expect Mr. de Blasio’s schedule to look like his predecessor’s. “We didn’t work the same way that Giuliani did,” he said. “Giuliani didn’t work the way that Dinkins did. Nobody worked the way Koch did.”

“I don’t want to be critical of it,” he added. “If he’s on a bicycle, he can still check his emails.”

[Source:- The New Yourk Times]

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