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NYT Syndicate

When Vanessa Packer, the founder of the fitness studio modelFIT, gets together for a monthly dinner with her fellow fitness-studio-owning friends Alexandra Bonetti P`rez (of the cardio-dance Bari studio) and Sarah Larson-Levey (of the yoga chain Y7), they indulge.
"Who wants some more drinks?" asked Packer, 32, as she finished preparations on the kale salad with grilled halloumi cheese, zucchini carpaccio with fresh herbs and toasted pistachios, and the warm farro with radish and yams that is a riff on a salad at the restaurant Charlie Bird.
The three women have a monthly supper club that rotates menu and locations.
"I emailed them one day and was like, 'Let's all meet up,'" said Bonetti P`rez, who is 30 and a management consultant.
Her peers saw the benefits.
"Camaraderie is important," Packer said."We all want to do something different within health and wellness, so why not join as a united front instead of being catty and judgey?"
On this instant, they gathered in Packer's SoHo loft. On the walls were vintage posters from France, African masks and a drawing of a flower by artist Aurel Schmidt. There were collections of crystals on a windowsill, bowls of sage to burn and pieces of orange Le Creuset cookware in the kitchen. Jazz from her collection of vinyl records played softly in the background.
"Everything is local and organic and delicious and amazing," Packer, a certified holistic nutritionist from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, said of the meal."Running a business, having a social life, cooking for an army, you know ” just a normal day."
The women talked about the scene in New York City versus that of Los Angeles.
"New York was late to the wellness game, but we overpowered everything," Packer said."It's in our DNA to make things more intense. I'm working on a space in LA, but it's fickle, and you need parking."
"People don't like to work out as hard in LA," Bonetti P`rez said.
"Well, people are going hiking," Packer said.
"They like to be seen," said Larson-Levey, 29. She has been spending time in Los Angeles since opening a Y7 studio on Melrose Avenue this year."After I spend time in LA, there's nowhere I'd rather be than New York," she added.
All three women were dressed in black ” Packer in a slinky dress, Larson-Levey in a tank and faded jeans and Bonetti P`rez in a jumpsuit with cutouts.
They recognise the connection among fitness, beauty and fashion.
"People invest in their workout wardrobe more than their dinner wardrobe now," Packer said."I still wear my old concert tees but with cool leggings and rad sneakers."
Bonetti P`rez, who is from Venezuela, said:"In South America, we make fun of how Americans are all in their sweatpants. Now you see South Americans come into New York to shop for leggings."
She said she is a"product junkie."
"I'm into weird stuff: I use snail cream," said Bonetti P`rez, who is pregnant with her first child."I'm terrified of stretch marks."
"I like to do dry-brushing every day," Packer said, referring to a type of exfoliating."I do oil-pulling sometimes twice a day. I do reiki and acupuncture, too. For facials, I go to Sophie at Aida Bicaj. I'm really big into face masks. I do them while I do other things. Like, I'll cook dinner, I'll do emails, and then sometimes I forget and the FedEx guy is there, and I'm wearing a mask."
Larson-Levey recommended a crystal healer.
"I started going to her a little over a year ago," she said."She reads your energy. It's a good way to connect with your body."
This was the evening's sole moment of contention.
"I'm against them," Bonetti P`rez said of crystals."I wish people wouldn't take them from where they grow."
Over dessert of medjool dates, vegan salted caramel ice cream and vanilla ice cream made from goat's milk, Packer pulled out a copy of Life magazine that she had found at her mother's apartment. It was an issue from November 1978.
They paused to look at an article on running.
"Those shoes have no support whatsoever," Packer pointed out, and then began to read aloud from an article about music:"The beat is literally a gallop." She paused to giggle."The name of this latest epidemic of the dancing sickness is disco."
Elsewhere in the magazine, there was a long article about pandas and an ad for Le Car (built by Renault) and many cigarette advertisements.
"Life was so wholesome then," she said. Everyone laughed.
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