“From a war-torn country to Greenwich Avenue — it’s not a bad story.”
So said Anel Dzafic, owner and founder of Countdown Fitness, and it’s difficult to argue the point. Dzafic, who for the past two years has been one of the trainers sharing space at the Rick Stebbins Performance Therapy studio at 323 Railroad Ave. in Greenwich, will open his own studio at 409 Greenwich Ave. in September.
“My business (at Stebbins) was growing so rapidly that I decided I could afford to build out my own space to my liking, and still offer one-on-one training,” he said.
The new 900-square-foot Countdown will be significantly darker in lighting and design than most fitness spaces, Dzafic said.
“Our clients won’t feel like they’re in a gym but in a completely personal space. It’s a very mindful approach to working their body without distractions. There’s not somebody being loud and annoying right next to them or a bunch of kids running around.”
Countdown’s 30-minute, once-a-week sessions ($95) can be taken by anyone from children to senior citizens, he said. And with the Greenwich location across the street from the town’s train station makes it even more convenient for commuting clientele, he said.
Dzafic estimated that he and his other trainer see 80 to 85 clients a week, a number that he expects to rise when he hires a third trainer. Nevertheless, he wants to have no more than three clients working out at a time, both to underscore his one-on-one philosophy and to ensure there’s no waiting for machines — one of the main turnoffs at larger clubs, he said.
Dzafic’s journey to Greenwich began when he was a child growing up in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In the aftermath of the 1992-95 Bosnian War — which cost the lives of an estimated 100,000 soldiers and civilians — his parents moved to Queens, where an aunt sponsored them as refugees. The young Dzafic taught himself English over the summer of 1998, and wound up as a varsity high school basketball star on his way to graduating from high school in three years.
It was during the latter period that his interest in how the body works was born, he said.
“I sprained my ankle over and over and over and the physical therapy I was taking would increase the blood flow to the muscles but wasn’t making me stronger.”
An interest in biomechanics was born as Dzafic pursued a liberal arts degree at Queens College and later took courses at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition to get a certification in Health Coaching. At the same time, he became a certified personal trainer and did volunteer EMT and firefighter work in New York City.
However, living in a small walkup apartment on the Upper East Side didn’t fit his and wife Julia’s plans to start a family. As a result they moved to Stamford, where they now reside in prototypical American fashion with a nearly 1-year-old daughter and a dog. “We like having the space,” he laughed.
And of course he’s hoping clients will like his new Greenwich space as well. “In addition to the privacy, I don’t want anyone to get hurt by being distracted,” he said. “In my eight years as a personal trainer, nobody has ever gotten hurt on my watch.”
Plans are for Countdown Fitness to be open from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekdays and from 7 a.m. to noon on Saturdays.