We’re just about to the end of January or, as I like to refer to it, “the time when people, including family members, are just about ready to stop asking me if we’re running any New Year’s Specials at the gym.”
I don’t blame them, of course. We’re acculturated to think of the gym as a space with a few distinct signifiers: big New Year’s, open from really early to kind of late, monthly price point about half of your cable or wireless bill if that, and a relatively transient floor and front desk staff.
And honestly, because I am a man who likes peace and quiet, I sometimes just nod and smile. “New Year’s has come and gone,” I say, “for all the gyms.” Then I sort of look off into the distance like I’ve just said something very meaningful.
But the truth is, we aren’t like a lot of other gyms. And that’s okay. We’re proud to be a group of coaches and athletes who are changing the conversation about what a gym and its members can do for each other and the people of their surrounding communities:
1. We are primarily appointment and class-based. In ten years of business, the sentiment we’ve heard more than any other is this: “I come here because you tell me what to do for an hour and I don’t have to think about it.” Think of how many decisions you make on a daily basis, and how each one seems to take longer than the last. Ever spend fifteen minutes in the refrigerated section choosing which brand of cottage cheese to buy? I have. It’s exhausting. We tell our members what to do, give them appropriate substitutions for movement or fatigue, and coach them through thirty to sixty minutes of work at a time.
2. We don’t believe the implicit goal of all exercise should be caloric burn, or weight loss, or fatigue. There is this notion that the gym is a place where you go to suffer, or expiate for your food choices, or to skinny yourself into acceptability. We don’t do that here. We’re happy to support our people who want to make healthy food choices and feel better, and we’re always happy to help folks feel great about their bodies in the world, but we don’t do punishment fitness. We want you to feel better when the workout is over and not need Count Spatula to peel you off the floor and deposit you into your driver’s seat.
3. Our coaches are real people with real laundry baskets who love getting people stronger and healthier. Some of the coaches and I have a running joke in the mid-morning about the laundry that we get done between classes, or the food we’re able to prep, or the errands we’re able to run. This isn’t about the laundry of course, it’s about coaches who run all over creation working with people who do the same. When we say we understand what it’s like to hit the snooze button three times because we’d rather sleep an extra half an hour and we were up with our kids or work late last night, we mean it because we live it. We work out because we love the way it feels and we help people work out because we want them to feel great too. We also know it can be hard as hell sometimes to make that happen. This is who we are, too.
4. We’re Local and We’re Small. I work with a lot of large businesses. I love shopping at Trader Joe’s and I use Amazon like everyone else. I’m not up for imaginary moral wars between big business and smaller ones, but what I will say is we’re proud to be local-owned and small in scope. We run into each other at the supermarket, we coach each others’ kids in and out of the gym, we pull together when we need to, and there is a palpable sense that we are all moving in the same direction–usually on Routes 110 or 119. When we help teachers get stronger, they do a better job caring for our kids; when we work with first responders, they are better at helping our friends and family in difficult situations.
5. And finally, we are not cheap. This is the pea under the mattress. We don’t traffic in sales, BOGOs, or deals. We provide a professional, individualized service that seeks to support and maintain the two most precious things we’re given in this life–our bodies and our minds. We pay our coaches professional wages, invest in their professional and personal development, and view them as the heads of our gym family. Our goal as a business is to be profitable so that we are able to help all the people we can, remain in business for a good long time, provide for our families, and give back to our communities.
Reading through all of this, it’s safe to say we’re not the kind of gym many folks out there have grown accustomed to using. That’s for sure!
But I also think it’s safe to say we might just be the place that you’ll stop calling a gym and start calling by another name: