Jeff Rivers has a thing for the gym.
Growing up in the small town of Stillwater in upstate NY, Jeff played football in high school but was a little overweight and not happy with the way he looked. So, he hit the gym. Back then there was not a lot of equipment available, so Jeff and his friends did some fundraising, to the delight of the coaches, and Jeff and his teammates built their own gym.
Jeff loved the gym. He worked out whenever he had spare time. “I spent every lunch period, every gym period, every study hall period, before and after school in the weight room whenever I could”, said Rivers. When he realized that there was an actual profession about fitness and that he could make a living with something he loved, he was all in. Jeff then attended SUNY Cortland with a degree in exercise physiology.
Once Jeff decided he wanted to make fitness his life’s passion, he spent a year checking out gyms. He watched and observed: What did he like? What were these gyms doing well? What could be improved? Jeff walked away with a huge master list full of ideas. And in 2002, THE GYM was born in Montvale and a second location was opened in Englewood in 2006. Over 4,000 people are now members of THE GYM.
One of the reasons that THE GYM has been so successful is that Jeff and his staff see The Gym as a “solutions based” experience. Each and every customer comes to THE GYM for a particular purpose. Jeff and his team are there to work on a personal level to help each member achieve whatever their goals may be. Gym members have the confidence and trust in knowing they will get results.
Members of THE GYM obviously love the experience the club provides. THE GYM enjoys a high activation rate-that is, members coming regularly. The participation rate is well above industry standards, which is about 70%. While other chain fitness clubs and small boutique studios are trying to get in on the action, THE GYM continues to succeed thanks to the commitment and expertise of its staff. THE GYM’s two locations have a combined total of 53,000 square feet that features personal training, the latest in exercise equipment, yoga classes, a spa, nutrition, weight management, juice bar, childcare and much more.
One of the most important aspects of Jeff’s passion with THE GYM is the human equation. “I can have a spin class, and a large competitor can have a spin class. They have a big flashy room with 75 bikes. I have 30 bikes and my little round room and if my instructor is better than their instructor, I would have more people without a doubt. Also knowing members by name is important to the staff at THE GYM. “I am the owner here and on site; We try to make it to a point where it’s very accessible to them (members) that we are here. We’re here to talk to them and try to make them feel basically at home when they come in.”
As a business and as a brand, Jeff knows that everyone that works at THE GYM understands what the mission of the company is about. He is very keen on the type of person that joins the team. In the interview Jeff needs to hear somewhere that the candidate wants to help people. Otherwise the applicant may not be right for the job. This consistency and clarity of purpose has helped to distinguish THE GYM from its competition as well.
Fitness has evolved over the years since the early days of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Muscle Beach, Golds Gym and Jane Fonda Workouts. Exercise and working out was mainly for a niche group, the vain, muscle bound and, of course, the gym rats. Now fitness is for virtually everyone. Jeff says “Now people realize that we are living longer and this exercise stuff makes us not only feel better but the quality of life gets better.” It has also become a huge business with large chains, small studios, boutiques and private equity firms wanting a piece of the action. There is a lot for those interested in fitness to choose from: huge workout facilities with over 200,000 square feet of space or a small yoga or spin class studio. And even technology is getting into the act, with machines now measuring your reps or telling you when your time is up. This is where Jeff thinks that other fitness businesses need to be careful as the “human equation” part of the business could get lost in the name of earning profits.
THE GYM is very involved in the community, most notably with Bergen County based Triple Negative Breast Cancer Foundation (October) and Homes for Veterans (November), raising thousands of dollars for these worthy causes.
In addition to running successful and growing business, Jeff keeps his eye on the future and is always watching the trends. Volume based, big chain businesses moving in with relatively low cost but needing high volume participation. Small boutique studios offering specific classes like spin or yoga, though with limited services the boutique model will be challenged to maintain consistent participation and interest year round.
THE GYM has been positioned to serve those who want to improve their physical well being with an expert and dedicated staff. These professionals are committed to seeing that each and every individual receives the attention, expertise and care needed so that each and every member can achieve success in their desire to be physically fit.
Fortunately for Jeff Rivers and THE GYM, the business is flourishing with the future looking bright. “what really matters, in the end, is the people.”
About THE GYM
THE GYM is a complete lifestyle and fitness center, designed to promote healthy living in a first class atmosphere. The extensive schedule of Group Fitness Classes includes Barre, Pilates, Video Spin, Yoga, H2Row, Cross Conditioning and more – all of which are unlimited to members and included with membership. The staff’s attentive service and the facility’s array of programs and services provide guests with an unparalleled experience. Its unique approach integrates specialized training programs with member hospitality in an immaculate atmosphere. THE GYM is known for its superior quality equipment, expert staff and special amenities, including a juice bar, spa and complimentary child care.
THE GYM of Montvale
2 Chestnut Ridge Road
Montvale, New Jersey
THE GYM of Englewood
20 Nordhoff Place
Englewood, New Jersey