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Brooklyn’s Body Reserve keeps family legacy alive in a historic location
There are a couple things that make Body Reserve Gym in Park Slope, Brooklyn unique. For one, it’s a second-generation family business run by Sal Mammana Jr., 26, whose father founded the club 20 years ago.
“My father, Sal Senior, was an Italian immigrant who came to New York from Sicily at a very young age,” explained Mammana Jr. “A scrawny kid, constantly bullied by his peers, his growing passion for lifting weights and striving to make a better life for himself and his family is what gave him the inspiration to open up a gym in an area of Brooklyn called Park Slope. When my father passed away at the age of 45 from cancer, he left my family a legacy that I’m proud to carry on today.”
The second interesting thing about the gym is its locale. “It’s in a bank,” said Mammana Jr. “No, really, the gym is an old, pre-war bank building.”
These two factors, the family legacy and interesting location, have solidified Body Reserve Gym as a staple in the community — a community that Mammana Jr. said wasn’t always the safest. “Park Slope was a very different area when Body Reserve first opened up on the corner of Union and 5th,” he said. “It was, to say the least, a rough area.”
Body Reserve served as a place where the community could come together, despite the rough locale. “Having a place where members could exercise, let off steam, laugh and just forget about the troubles of their daily routine was integral in helping make Park Slope the thriving community it is today,” continued Mammana Jr.
Though the club is based on tradition, it isn’t intimidated by changes in consumer interests. “We aren’t afraid of change, as evidenced with our recent purchase of brand new [cycling] bikes, Jacob’s Ladder and other state-of-the-art equipment,” said Mammana Jr. “But, we are the longest standing gym in Park Slope — we still hold true to the traditions set forth 20 years ago of what makes a great gym.”
In addition to Mammana Jr., his sister, Jen Mammana, has helped make the gym what it is today. “My sister, Jen — who is an integral person not only in my life but also in the success of our gym — is at the helm of the group fitness classes at Body Reserve,” explained Mammana Jr. “A very large portion of our annual budget goes into providing classes free to our members and guests that include [cycling], yoga, Pilates, boot camp, body sculpting and many more. Jen is constantly working with me on ways to improve the members’ experience of classes here at Body Reserve, and our class schedule goes through seasonal changes that reflect the most important person in Body Reserve, the member.”
Mammana Jr. also gave credit to three other staff members for the success of the gym: employees who have been with the gym since its opening day. “Eduardo, Jose and Butch are three of the best workers I could ever ask for, and by far the most loyal people I have ever met,” he said. “They helped my father make this club what it is today, and they help me every day to not only make this club a great experience for the members, but also to help Jen and I hold true to the founding ideals my father held about what made a great gym, and a great business.”
Two of those founding ideals include honesty and learning from mistakes. “Honesty doesn’t just mean telling someone if there is an extra fee for towels,” said Mammana Jr. “Honesty is exceeding people’s expectations time and time again. A gym is the type of business that is bound to run into problems every now and then. But we address these problems immediately and make sure to learn from them. Everything my sister and I do here, we do with our father in mind, and that is what guides us and makes us consistently the best gym in the best area of Brooklyn.”
By Rachel Zabonick