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Across the U.S., the fitness space is becoming increasingly competitive. This includes Short Hills, New Jersey, which is home to Flywheel Sports, SoulCycle, New York Sports Club, CrossFit Millburn and YB Fitness — to name a few.
“The competition is fierce,” said David Bell, the general manager of YB Fitness. “It’s easy to just throw up your hands and quit. Or, let’s try to build a brand that’s totally unique and really does emphasize something.”
YB Fitness took the latter approach, and over the past two years has emphasized its community as a differentiating factor from other gyms and boutiques in the area. To cultivate that community, it participates in local events, supports local schools and contributes to local causes.
For example, in 2017, YB Fitness gave close to $15,000 worth of membership gifts to all charities that inquired, ranging from local schools and churches to fire and police.
In addition, it gave “hardship discounts” to members struggling to pay their membership dues as a result of significant job loss, divorce or a death in the family. “We feel health and fitness is critical during the most challenging times, when people need health and fitness and camaraderie,” said Bell.
Another great example of YB Fitness’ charitable support is the recent fundraiser held for Cooper Grossman, a local high school sophomore suffering from Kleine-Levin Syndrome — also known as “Sleeping Beauty Syndrome.”
On October 21, 2017, YB Fitness hosted the first “Coop-a-thon,” an indoor cycling event which brought together around 120 participants, in addition to friends and family members of Cooper. They ultimately raised $90,000 for the Kleine-Levin Syndrome (KLS) Foundation.
According to Bell, the goodwill from the event provided an opportunity to grow and develop YB Fitness’ brand as “a true community venue for all to get fit with no judgements attached.”
And from a sales perspective, Bell hopes a good portion of the participants will use their week pass to experience the rest that YB has to offer.
However, according to Tom Daloisio, YB Fitness’ group fitness director, the real benefit of the event was seeing the joy the successful fundraiser brought to Cooper’s family and friends.
“In addition to the cyclists, there were also 25 to 30 people in the studio cheering them on as we rode,” explained Daloisio. “It was very exciting. When you walked out of the cycling studio there were so many supporters you couldn’t even walk. To have the family there supporting everybody and thanking everybody, and then at the end they did these heartwarming speeches that made everyone cry — I’ve never done anything like this in my life. And to see these kids cheer on their fellow peers, it was really quite nice.”
To further cultivate community, YB Fitness also emphasizes customer service and ensures staff are friendly, know members’ names and take an active interest in their lives.
At the end of the day, this has made YB Fitness a true community-oriented facility.
“We’ve worked so hard with our staff and members that we really are a true community-based club, in the fact that we really do care about the community,” said Bell. “There’s a difference between having a club in a community, and being a community club.”