Steel Gym is one of the last privately owned gyms that is truly successful. Located in New York City and owned by Ken Hunt, Steel Gym differentiates itself by offering short term memberships, day rates, and has been named the “best equipped gym in New York City.
Steel Gym is proud of their great training program, and even make their trainers entrepreneurs by allowing them to work as private contractors and set the prices for their training packages. Did we mention that Steel Gym was named the # 1 Gym in New York City?? Steel Gym was also ranked as one of the top 5 gyms in the USA by “ Muscle and Fitness” magazine.
MO: You were named number one gym in New York City. Why?
Ken: I think it’s based on a number of factors. But even before I rattle off the reasons I must say its quite an honor and a big accomplishment for an independent gym. I am very grateful to have received such an endorsement. Going to the gym should be a good experience. If you recall the TV show “Cheers” in the theme song was the lyric—You want to go where everyone knows your name. Our goal has always been to offer a higher level of customer service. When you walk into Steel Gym we want the person behind the counter to welcome you by name and to have your favorite sport drink, water and a towel ready for you if that’s what you usually ask for. We foster a sense of community and our members consider the gym their “home” away from home.
We strive for a pristine level of cleanliness. I want the gym to be spotless- we are always cleaning and wiping down machines. The locker rooms get cleaned 4 times a day.
Of equal importance we make sure the equipment is well maintained. We have machines and equipment that you wont find in other gyms anywhere in NYC. We have the most extensive collection of lower body equipment in the tri- state area. We have an obligation to our members to keep the operations of the gym running smoothly at all times. I think our members appreciate that. We also listen to our membership. If there is a certain kind of equipment they want, then we try to get for them—this is especially true of our trainers who need to keep routines fresh and challenging for their clients.
We increased our hours based on input from our clients. We are now open almost 24/7, We never forget that we are in a service business and our clients have a choice. We want them to choose Steel Gym.
MO: Why did you make the decision to allow your trainers to work as private contractors?
Ken: We are a small business that supports other small businesses. Trainers work hard. I know, because I am one. We want to give personal trainers a good choice as to where to bring their clients. Offering great equipment and convenient hours is only part of the equation. We want to give them a place where their business can grow. And if their business is growing, then so is ours.
MO: Tell us about the process of expanding to LA and Miami?
Ken: Well I guess the Steel Gym brand is gaining recognition across the US and in Europe. I was approached to look at gyms in both of these cities as expansion opportunities for Steel. The interest level in our approach to fitness and club management was clearly very attractive. What has been especially exciting is the enthusiasm I have experienced from the current members of these gyms and the personal trainers who work out there. I think that people like our business model and the goals that we represent and strive for in a gym. My biggest challenge is making sure each of our locations offers the same level of customer service and attention to detail that you would have in our NYC location.
MO: What in your background makes you equipped to own a gym as a fitness guy and a business guy?
Ken: I have a history in the restaurant management industry. This kind of experience has been invaluable in creating the Steel Gym brand. The same principles apply. Also I have a “hands on” approach I am visible at all times. I walk the floor, talk to my clients and make sure that people know they can approach me with suggestions, problems or comments.
MO: How do you give back to your community in NY?
Ken: As I mentioned, we foster a real sense of community. I welcome the chance to harness the power and enthusiasm of our members behind worthy causes. For example, we have opened the gym to GLAAD, supported emerging artists by hanging their artwork in the gym and invited NYC Speaker of the City Council, Christine Quinn, to the gym for a meet and greet. We have raised money for the Trevor Project, Help Is the On the Way- which offers assistance to low income families struggling with HIV and AIDS, and Sylvia’s Place- a half-way house for runaway LGBT kids. We have donated memberships and prizes to the Ali Fortney Center, the GLAAD Out Auction, Human Rights Campaign, GMHC. Every October we donate a proceeds of the sales of juice bar to breast cancer research. And this holiday season we are collecting food for the Bowery Mission. I applaud our membership for helping us embrace corporate social responsibility and the support of worthy causes.
MO: Why do you believe it is important to have a positive fitness environment?
Ken: I think it should be positivefor both your physical and your mental well being. I want our clients to not only look the best they can, but feel the best they can. When you have a positive fitness environment, people stay with you and they tell their friends. Word of mouth is very powerful today. Social media is a powerful tool. We have benefited greatly from the great reviews from our members and guests.
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