Debora Warner on Entrepreneurship, Passion, Art and Running
Not your everyday fitness studio pioneer or running coach, Mile High Run Club Founder Debora Warner made her entrepreneurial debut on the global contemporary art scene as a high profile mixed media artist with a career that spans almost two decades of success. Prior to launching Mile High Run Club, her passion for running had already taken a back seat to her first love of art. Running was where she cultivated her creative ideas by hitting the west side highway on long afternoon breaks away from her Nolita-based studio. As a key player on the international art scene, her work found it’s way to the collections of Beth DeWoody and Baby Jane Holzer and has been featured in exhibitions at I-20 Gallery in New York; Akira Ikeda Gallery in Taura, Japan; Akira Ikeda Gallery in Berlin; Schim Kunsthalle in Frankfurt; Geneva, Switzerland; Michael Janssen Gallery in Berlin; Mary Goldman Gallery in Los Angeles; Loop Video Festival in Barcelona; the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco to name a few.
Mile High Run Club is her latest installation and work of art. Turning her eye and talent towards group fitness and running, Debora mixes music, lights, energy, and dynamic workouts into this real-time multi-sensory experience resulting in the first dedicated treadmill studio for running that has emerged to become a leading innovator within the competitive boutique fitness landscape.
Like all great ideas and inspiration, the concept for Mile High Run Club, came to Debora while she was out on a run. Passionate about running and having always been an athlete, Debora’s fitness trajectory began with swimming competitively in college, then running for stress relief, inspiration, and meditation. Eventually her competitive athletic ambition returned and led her to embrace Olympic distance triathlon as a sport where she completed over 20 plus races. Transitioning from art to running, a career in fitness was organic. It was on a run while living on the West Coast when Debora realized she needed to switch gears, move back to New York and build a career in fitness.
“At one point I just decided I didn’t want to continue my art practice for the rest of my life. I had been in the art world for over 15 years and I was excited by the possibility of finding another purpose. I asked myself “What can I not live without and realized that was what I needed to live for,” says Debora Warner, Founder and Program Director Mile High Run Club.
In 2009 Debora moved back to NYC, started collecting fitness certifications, and began coaching middling marathoners at Equinox. Little did she know that “My time at Equinox was THE transitional year that would define the next 10 years of my life.” As a personal trainer and running coach, she quickly fell in love with her clients while becoming equally intrigued by the psychology of runners.
“The parallels of being an artist and being an athlete really resonated with me,” says Debora. “There is a singularity of purpose combined with an all-consuming focus on developing one’s skills. Both fields also require a daily practice. Both activities (running and art) are done in isolation. Lastly, there is beauty in movement as well as art. To me, training is an art form.”
Today Debora is focused on the art of running and the business of creating and developing classes like DASH 28, HIGH 45, & THE DISTANCE, to educate, empower and inspire athletes and fitness goers to be their best. She’s also busy designing and launching her new line of jewelry called RUN GIRL, which will feature custom laser cut necklaces and bracelets for runners.
Words to live by: “Ask yourself what you cannot live without, and then live for that.”