STATEN ISLAND, NY — With a room full of tires, slam balls, plyometric boxes and battle ropes, BK Society Fitness is not your average gym. There’s no treadmills or elliptical machines and the heavy weight equipment is limited. Instead, there’s a schedule full of high intensity functional classes and lots of alternative strength and cardio options – all of which are aimed at making your workout both practical and purposeful.
“This entire concept came about during COVID when my husband Eric, who has been a personal trainer for over 10 years, created this fitness community that would meet every morning for outdoor bootcamps and training,” noted Stella Ganolli, who owns and operates the new Dongan Hills gym with her husband, Eric Martinez.
“I watched what he was doing and encouraged him to start his own business,” Ganolli continued. “This goes well beyond fitness. It really is about encouragement and support. He’s created a wonderful safe space that’s comfortable even for those who hate a gym setting. I don’t think there’s any other coaches or trainers out there who support their clients as much as he does.”
The gym, which officially opened June 1, has that garage/cross-fit type of feel but is not an intense gym-rat inhabited type of facility. According to Ganolli, most clients are average men and women looking to improve their health and well-being.
“The fitness industry is extremely competitive,” Ganolli said. “After training independently during COVID, it was hard for Eric to find a space that aligned with the type of training that he believed in. So we took a chance and opened up this gym.”
The couple hails from Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, so they decided to call their business BK Society Fitness.
“We actually looked at places in Brooklyn — Red Hook and Cobble Hill – but the rents were so high,” Ganolli said. “We decided that Staten Island was the perfect spot because it’s just five minutes over the bridge. Close enough for our Brooklyn clients to travel to, but also an opportunity to introduce the concept to a whole new audience.”
The space was new construction but it still took the couple two months to fashion it in just the right way. Together they painted, hung mirrors and purchased all the right equipment to see BK Society Fitness to fruition.
“We’ve grown very organically ever since,” Ganolli said. “It’s a beautiful area and news of this gym is slowly spreading through word of mouth. We love the sense of community we’ve been able to establish here in such a short amount of time.”
Defining the gym’s genre as functional interval training, Ganolli says Martinez’ workouts are aimed at helping clients strengthen their physique to perform everyday activities.
“This is not a HIIT bootcamp,” Ganolli said. “Yes, you’re out here hitting a huge truck tire with a sledgehammer, mimicking the motions of chopping wood, but it’s a workout that teaches you how to better manage picking up your children, helps you throw a baseball or carry your groceries. It’s a fun way of working out that also teaches you how to use your body in the right way.”
Classes are offered throughout the day and Ganolli says the most popular options are BK Sweat and BK Strong, one cardio based, the other focused on strength training. Members go through a set of stations at least twice before the movements are changed around. Personal training sessions are offered in between classes.
“We also just started a BK Youth Fit program for children ages six to 12,” Ganolli said. “It’s $10 per session and helps teach stability and balance with a mix of sports, play and teamwork.”
For Ganolli and Martinez, both currently studying early education, it’s a perfect fit.
“We love children and made it a priority to incorporate these classes into our gym.”
But first, the duo is focused on building a regular clientele, offering different levels of membership and some summer deals to entice gym goers. With a year commitment, gym membership is currently priced at $145 month, a month-to-month commitment is a little pricier at $170.
“If you want to take a class here and there you can pay $25 each time,” Ganolli concluded. “Right now we’re offering a BK Summer Saturdays deal during which the BK Sweat and Shadowbox classes are discounted to $15.”