Body Space Fitness
How does a man with an undergraduate degree in civil and environmental engineering and an MBA in finance find himself as a personal trainer and owner of a New York City gym?
Kelvin Gary had worked in the pharmaceutical industry for six years and then in a corporate finance position for a few years before he got into training “as a fun thing to do,” he said. “I got my personal training certificate just for me, and then I started training friends.” Encouraged by those friends, Gary started a small side business working with other friends and soon saw the business could be successful.
In his daytime job, Gary was focused on budgeting management. “I realized that wasn’t what I was put on this earth to do; it was not fulfilling,” he said. “I looked at my personal training success and thought about how much I love working with people and helping them get better.” That’s when he decided to make personal training his full-time career.
Securing financing was a bit of struggle, however. “For the amount of financing I needed as a small business, I got laughed at,” he said. “The banks I talked to only offered me a third of what I already had in hand, and I thought there had to be another way.”
Gary worked with New York City Business Solutions Center’s Lower Manhattan office to finalize his business plan and prepare a loan application to NYBDC for the creation of his own gym, Body Space Fitness, oriented on personal training and small group sessions. He was able to secure a $275,000 loan from NYBDC to finance construction, gym equipment and marketing expenses.
“Working with NYBDC was such a positive experience,” Gary said. “The vetting was very thorough and that helped me make sure I had all my ducks in a row. For that, I am very thankful.”
“Body Space Fitness was a good fit for NYBDC because of the startup nature of the business,” said David Hanold, assistant vice president at NYBDC. “Despite Kelvin’s strong experience in the industry, he was unable to secure a bank loan because he had not yet established his gym. NYBDC’s loan programs are aimed specifically at dedicated, early-stage entrepreneurs who are underserved by traditional financing.”
Body Space Fitness opened in May 2012 and today draws a wide variety of professionals and athletes in training in the Union Square neighborhood. A year after opening, Gary’s 4,500-square-foot gym employs four additional trainers and offers a unique contribution in fitness training to New York City. Currently, Gary personally trains about 38 people and does some small group training. In total, Body Space Fitness has about 115 personal training clients.
“We like to say what we do is ‘life coaching with weights,’ because we’re in the business of helping people get better,” Gary said.