It’s almost 2019! What are your resolutions? Common ones are to quit smoking and save money, but perhaps the most common of all are to lose weight, tone up, and become more fit. No matter your current fitness level or weight loss goals, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the steps ahead of you. Fortunately, Westerly Fitness and owner Mike Volpe have plenty of insight and suggestions to help you become healthier and stronger this year and beyond.
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Mike believes that most people who join a gym for the new year are scared; they feel intimidated, judged, and like they don’t know where to start or what to do to make the most of their time and efforts. “People want to feel comfortable. Some ‘judgement free’ places are often times the most judgmental. But here, it’s clean and organized, there’s somebody to say hello to you when you arrive, say goodbye to you on your way out, to smile and make sure that you had a good experience. The gym is not about abs. It’s about feeling good about yourself. If you want abs, we’ll help you get them, but we’ll also help you feel better mentally and physically.”
“I know we get the new year rush, but I don’t want to see that drop off after a month or two. The name of the game is that you join in January and by next January, you’re still coming. It’s not about how many people join the gym, it’s about how many people are coming in and making use of it,” Mike explained. This is why he personally writes weekly motivational newsletters to stay in touch with members, sharing updates, tips, and healthy recipes, and encouraging them to take the time for themselves and keep working towards their goals.
He also makes sure to hire trainers and staff members who are friendly, knowledgeable, and willing to take the extra step and help someone out, answer questions, or direct them to someone who can. “My staff actually cares; they’re fitness enthusiasts, of course, but they also care about the wellbeing of other people, beyond just showing them how to use a machine. They’ll check in with members, and reach out to people who haven’t been coming in for a while.”
As a regular myself, I can personally attest to this – I always feel welcomed and supported by staff and other members alike, which is a far cry from any other gym or fitness studio I’ve personally been a part of. It’s like coming to Cheers, where everybody knows your name – except instead of drinking beer and avoiding our wives, we’re all becoming healthier together, in body and spirit.
After a rough period of time this past fall, it was an enormous comfort to have one of my favorite staff members take me quietly aside one day. “I don’t know what you’re going through, and I don’t need to know if you don’t want to share, but I’ve noticed that you’re down these days and I just want you to know that we’re here for you,” she said, before offering me a hug. It was the best moment I had had in days. Likewise, during personal training sessions meant to strengthen my muscles, I found myself having conversations with my trainer that were strengthening my soul as she patiently and compassionately listened to me and then offered her advice and insight. “This is therapy,” she said. “This is a place you can come to work on yourself.”
This passion for helping others is a cornerstone of the Westerly Fitness, and was a motivating factor in Mike deciding to run his own gym in the first place, as he saw it as a way to help more people on an even bigger level.
“As a personal trainer, I was able to work with people one on one, but I wanted to get on the other side of things and offer a gym that ran the best way possible. I had seen everything that didn’t work, and I kept thinking how I would do things differently, and finally I decided I just had to make it happen. Before buying the gym, I was a know-it-all trainer, so I thought I knew exactly what people wanted and needed and that I could just buy a gym and make it the best in the world. And I quickly learned that I knew nothing,” Mike laughed. “But what I’ve learned is that it’s more about the individual person and what they’re going through outside of the gym than about the machines and the classes. It’s about the staff and myself figuring out what they’re going through and figuring out what they can do in here that will help them out there.”
Memberships are affordable, at only $32 a month with a one-year commitment or $26 for a two-year commitment, and give you full access to all machines and group classes, a fitness consultation, free water, and the ability to bring a guest on weekends.
In the five and a half years since Mike took over ownership of the gym, two expansions have taken place, resulting in a group fitness room, plenty of treadmills, ellipticals, and stationary bikes, along with free weights and weight machines throughout the deceptively large building. They also provide two weight rooms and a Ladies Training Zone. Classes range from spin and Zumba to yoga, kickboxing, body sculpt, and more. They also have an outstanding massage therapist in the building, Cheryl Richard, who offers Swedish, deep tissue, hot stone, and Reiki sessions as well.
Westerly Fitness also offers SBV Supplements, a line created by Mike, for anyone looking to include that as part of their health and fitness journey.
“I had been using various supplements before and had had adverse reactions to them,” he explained. “I did my research and discovered a lot of misleading and false information exists, with products claiming to be something they’re not, and I felt like I could produce something that was healthy and tasted good.” They’ll be releasing a vegan protein powder soon, shortly after the new year begins.
Looking ahead to the new year, Westerly Fitness has some exciting plans in place. “Our focus for the new year is definitely going to be getting people results faster,” Mike shared. His trainers will be working together to offer an unlimited group training program that includes a full membership, so for less than the cost of four individual sessions, members can have access to unlimited boot camp sessions, nutrition guidance, a supportive community, a private Facebook group – in short, everything they need to reach their goals. “The idea is to blow it out of the water for the new year and by the time the summer hits, we’ll have people getting to where they want to be.”
If lots of interaction isn’t for you, that’s okay, too – there’s more than enough room for more solitary pursuits at Westerly Fitness as well. Fitness is, in the end, a personal journey of self-care, and you can involve as many or as few other people in that journey with you as you like. Upon joining, there are no excuses – your membership gives you access to all of the group classes, all of the weight machines, and all of the cardio machines. “I don’t feel like you should have to pay more to access a class because that’s a basic – classes, weights, cardio, those are the staples of fitness,” Mike explained. “So really the only question is, what is your commitment to yourself?”