On Nov. 26, Dan Spano turned up at Salvation and Deliverance Church in Harlem with 1,200 coats that were donated at 10 collection boxes around Ridgefield during the first three weeks of November. He also joined with three businesses to purchase 250 turkeys that were donated to the church for distribution to households that needed food assistance for the Thanksgiving holiday.
Spano is not a nonprofit executive. Instead, he is the owner of the GymGuyz franchise for Fairfield County.
“We always wanted to help out in the community,” he explained. “We thought it would be a good idea to do something different.”
Spano is also seeking to do something different professionally through his ownership of the GymGuyz franchise, which he acquired in October 2017. A former personal trainer and fitness manager for big-box gyms, he described himself as “sort of bouncing around” that career before a tip on the franchise’s availability encouraged the flexing of his previously unused entrepreneurial muscles.
“My roommate from college opened up the first franchise in Westchester County a few years ago,” he recalled. “He was telling me, ‘I like the idea of how this is going. I like the results we are getting.’ ”
GymGuyz offers an in-home mobile personal training service, Spano explained.
“We bring the equipment, the trainer, the workout for the setting of your choice,” he continued. “Our trucks are equipped with 365 pieces — kettlebells, mats, weights, barbells, pretty much everything that you can imagine, except for Peloton bicycles or treadmills.”
Spano charges $80 to $95 for a one-hour session. He observed the GymGuyz employee requirements offer a more professional quality of expertise than one might find from freelance trainers advertising online.
“We’re certified, obviously, and insurance is a very big part of it,” he said. “All of the trainers have to go through an extensive interview process, plus a background check and drug testing. Sometimes people hire someone off ThumbTack and they don’t really do their research about them. We take the due diligence time before we bring someone on.”
Spano’s client base runs the gamut of wellness needs from weight loss to overcoming negative experiences from gym workouts, and there is also an on-staff nutritionist who meets with clients to discuss the dietary aspects of a wellness regimen. And no customer is too young or too old for his attention.
“Our youngest client is 11 and our oldest is 96,” he stated. “The 11-year-old is looking for weight loss and the 96-year-old a better functioning life and more ability to move around the house.”
Ninety percent of Spano’s client base involves at-home workouts with the remaining percentage focused on corporate wellness programs.
“We do group classes, anywhere from five to 20 people,” he said. “It would be boot camp-style circuit training with them, or even Zumba, yoga or Pilates.”
Social media and word of mouth have been the keys to Spano’s awareness campaign with the franchise’s three brightly decorated GymGuyz vans doing double-duty as a marketing vehicle.
“A lot of times we get calls with people saying, ‘Hey, I saw your truck — what exactly do you guys do?’ ” he said. “We also get asked, ‘Do you do exercises in the van?’ That’s a very common question. I tell them there’s not enough space.”
One of Spano’s proudest achievements involved a family in Darien that lost a cumulative total of nearly 180 pounds.
“That’s a mom, dad and son,” Spano noted. “We were just working with them constantly. They each do workout sessions three times a week.”
Spano employs a six-person training staff and he stressed that an individual coach is assigned to each client. If that coach is unavailable, another will take his or her place, but the client’s predetermined program will not be altered. In the two years since he bought the franchise, Spano has had minimal staff turnover. He stressed an interest in hiring military veterans.
“It was something I always believed in,” he stated. “These people served our country so why not do something for them.”
Spano’s GymGuyz franchise is the first and only one of its kind in Connecticut. And while he is satisfied with his results in Fairfield County, he is reticent about claiming the entire state for himself.
“We haven’t really thought about it that much,” he said about expanding his territory.