Sports Lab Gets Peak Performance with ‘Inside’ Look

By Sara Poirier Correa
Sentinel Business Reporter

Michael Manavian, Director of Performance and Golf Professional at Clay Health Club & Spa.

Michael Manavian, Director of Performance and Golf Professional at Clay Health Club & Spa.

At Clay DX Sports Labs, it’s not just what’s on the outside, but also what’s on the inside that’s important when it comes to optimizing your health and athletic performance.

Integrated with Clay Health Club & Spa, the diagnostic lab and its managers get the inside scoop on a client’s body—literally—by studying blood work through various tests. It’s the results of this testing, they said, that allows them to work with the Clay fitness trainers and nutritionists to design the best overall plan to improve a client’s health and performance.

“When somebody goes to the gym and they want to drop fat, they can really only focus on fitness,” said Ali Gilbert, director of fitness performance for Clay DX Sports Labs. “[What the diagnostic lab does] is so much more than exercise.”

DX refers to a diagnosis in medical language.

Gilbert, a golf performance expert, along with former bodybuilder and golf professional Michael Manavian and Greenwich internist and bariatrician Dr. Steven A.R. Murphy, started what is known as Greenwich DX Sports Labs in the fall of 2013. Providing clients with “extensive data that comes from advanced DNA and hormonal tests,” their methods attracted the eye of Clay, whose owner was moving to the suburbs after a successful start in New York City.

The diagnostic lab aligned with Clay in spring 2014, and helped the facility open at 11 Riverdale Avenue in Port Chester, N.Y., in November of that year.

Dr. Murphy, a Yale University-trained, board-certified physician, serves as medical director of the sports lab initiative.

“They have nutrition, they have fitness, but we can measure their nutrition and measure their fitness,” Manavian said about the Clay/DX Sports Labs partnership.

“What we take pride in is the data,” he added, saying that different stimuli affect each person’s biochemistry in different ways.

Manavian said that the diagnostic tests—which include an advanced hormone panel to detect, assess and baseline hormone levels; a micronutrient test to determine a body’s nutrient deficiencies; a dietary and environmental allergen report to identify sensitivities that can impact wellness; and a DNA telomere test, the results of which will help direct wellness programs to impact the quality of the aging process—all go well beyond what a regular blood draw at an annual doctor’s exam would reveal.

Not usually covered by insurance, and costing from a couple hundred to a couple thousand dollars, these a la carte tests, along with the many others offered through Greenwich DX Sports Labs, according to its website,, “will empower you to monitor your performance and take the appropriate care for your longevity.”

“This isn’t to say that we’re the only way,” Manavian said of the diagnostic approach. “It happens to be that this is the most customizable way [to achieve goals].”

He added, “When you workout you’re creating a hormonal reaction in the body. It’s always a cause and effect with the body. We want to manipulate the result in the positive for them.”

What you get for your money with Clay DX Sports Labs is data and the interpretation of the data. All medical information is protected under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

“We measure, we don’t guess,” Manavian said of their work, adding that they don’t deal with sick people at the lab, but rather with people interested in wanting to advance their health and learn why all that diet and exercise isn’t letting them lose their gut, for example.

Whether Clay DX Sports Labs clients take the newfound knowledge about their health to Dr. Murphy or another physician for further guidance and medical support is the client’s prerogative.  However, Gilbert and Manavian said working with Dr. Murphy does allow seamless communication among all parties, including the nutritionists at Clay who can prepare meals that fit with what an individual body needs, and the trainers who can work on what needs training the most.

“I was not content with not being able to help clients just achieve results with diet and exercise,” Gilbert, who formerly worked as director of golf performance at Elite Health Services in Old Greenwich, said of why she chose to come on board with the DX Sports Labs concept.

“Being able to help people on that level is so much more beneficial and allows me to get better results with my clients,” she added.

Another unique aspect of Clay DX Sports Labs is its 3-D technology that can measure a client’s performance in sports, such as golf. Known as the Elite Golf Performance Evaluation, the service includes the client wearing a bodysuit and holding a club, all adorned with sensors, and then practicing his or her swing on the turf putting green in the lab. The motions the client makes during each swing are tracked via computer and how every joint works is examined, allowing Manavian to advise and instruct how to better the swing for peak performance.

“We’re the only place in the world with this technology in a health club,” he said.

Also available is Elite Performance Training, whereby Gilbert provides specialized personal training with a “detailed assessment of functional movement, lifestyle, eating and sleeping habits.”

Manavian said what he learned during his years spent as a professional bodybuilder helped him see what works and what doesn’t when it comes to healthy muscle building.

“To be able to take one percent of that information that I learned and combine it with the knowledge of Dr. Murphy and Ali, we can really hone in on clients and achieve their muscle building and fat loss goals,” he said.

Located a stone’s throw from the Greenwich border, overlooking the Byram River, Clay Health Club & Spa is a state-of-the art 30,000-square-foot wellness facility that aims for total fitness. The vision for the sleek club has previously been referred to as “the country club of health clubs.”

In addition to the diagnostic sports lab, it offers everything from spa services available to members and non-members alike, to an organic café run by Maison Privé, a boutique catering company from Greenwich. Also on site are a pro shop, a rooftop deck, a members’ lounge, studios for spin classes, Pilates, yoga and group exercise, free weights, power lifting stations, fitness equipment of the latest technology and more. Valet parking is also available.

More information about DX Sports Labs may be found on the Greenwich DX Sports Labs website. Information about Clay Health Club & Spa may be found at or 914-937-5000.

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