When Jason Villacres and Shawn Rogers first met, only Villacres was a trainer. In fact, Villacres was Rogers’ trainer for about two years. Villacres said that Rogers was always picking his brain on nutrition and exercising. “It was refreshing to see someone with such a passion, at which I recommended he take a training certification so he could know all the ropes in and out,” said Villacres.
Rogers took Villacres up on getting certified and the two lost contact for about three years. “One day I was running along the Hudson River and I see a small group of people running with Shawn leading the way,” said Villacres. “I approached him and we were surprised at the reunion. He had become the trainer for ABC’s Good Morning America and I had built up a good private corporate training business. We spoke that we each wanted to expand our business and that if we were ever to have a business partner he and I would be the one, so the timing was great.”
A year and a half ago, Villacres and Rogers established “YBYM Fitness and Wellness Center” in the heart of New York City. “We have people from all walks of life, from the average Joe or Jane, to the local news anchors and TV producers coming here,” said Villacres. “We have three instructors and three trainers working under us, which we teach how to be effective trainers … a constant learning experience. People love the intimate feel we have as we are not a large-scale gym, but rather a fitness studio that nurtures growth.”
Rogers and Villacres’ mission with YBYM was to challenge people and help them become fit — to enjoy their lives and careers. However, beginning a business, even after successfully launching prior businesses, can be difficult — even more so in New York City, with its hyper competitive market place. “As a new facility, getting people in the doors is always the biggest challenge,” said Villacres. “Luckily we already had a small following, so delivering great service and results brought us our first wave of new clients that makes up roughly 40 percent of our clientele.”
The business owners continued to focus on customer service and sought out new trainers that understood the value of customer service that they expected. “We treat everyone as equals,” said Villacres. “Nobody feels better treated than others. We go an extra 10 miles to check in with clients and ensure everyone is happy. In a tough economy we know training can be considered a luxury and is hard to afford, so we allowed a payment plan that was appreciated by all, from the financial elite, to the average Joe or Jane.”
The goal of the client always has been number one at YBYM. Trainers use the body as a machine to “achieve weight loss, body sculpting, race training and conditioning through body weight centered programs — with the help of some dumbbells and TRX — with martial art influences,” said Villacres. “Clients use a daily food journal and every six to eight weeks we weigh in, take body fat and measurements to ensure everything is working. If results are not being achieved we readjust the exercise programming and look at the diet to see what can be done.
“The delivery of exercise is intense to ensure clients are pushed to their limits and know what it feels like when they do their homework.” Members at YBYM are assigned homework that has been customized to the individual. Each client is expected to practice homework assignments on days off. “We check-in with clients regularly via text, e-mail or phone to see how homework and eating habits are going. We realized when you show the client that the power and accountability is in their hands, it changes their focus to their daily habits better.”
YBYM strives to keep a family feel in its studio, which helps it differentiate from the six major gyms that can be found within a six-block radius of the studio. “Workouts with the staff helps set the environment off and keeps everyone humble and ready to deliver the same quality they themselves have received,” said Villacres. “We are very strict on what we expect from our trainers. Any trainer coming onboard must shadow us while training to absorb our style of intensity and the formula of exercise programming. Trainers are also trained as clients to go through routines to better understand the client and what challenges they will face.”
Out of college Villacres interned for Pfizer and quickly realized the day-to-day routine and redundancy of a typical career wasn’t meant for someone so passionate about fitness. His passion translates daily into YBYM and is transferred from his trainers to the results his clients experience — continually setting them apart from any possible competitor. -CS
By Tyler Montgomery