Feature: Personal Touch

Working out gets easier with in-home GYMGUYZ

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Leslie and Brian Dempsey, Terra Linda residents, have brought the first GYMGUYZ business to the West Coast. Photo by Cris Gebhardt.

As 2018 rolls in and New Year’s resolutions are practically writing themselves, working out and staying healthy usually still tops everyone’s list. How unfortunate, then, that the beginning of a new year inevitably falls in winter, when lacing up sneakers and heading out the door is the toughest. While gym memberships and platforms like ClassPass are widely available in Marin County and beyond, and even Meetup.com has plenty of running and exercise groups welcoming those who decide to tone, they all require a certain amount of motivation and vigor that can be out of reach. Enter GYMGUYZ, the mobile, we-come-to-you fitness service, which is now serving the area.

Founded in 2008 by Josh York, the brand specializes in in-home personal training for individuals, groups or corporations—which, in the Bay Area’s workers-pleasing tech environment, couldn’t be more relevant. Promising workouts that are customized, convenient and creative, the GYMGUYZ ‘guys’ and women arrive in a signature red van, bringing all of the equipment a client might need. In late 2017, Terra Linda-based Leslie and Brian Dempsey decided to become franchisees and bring the model to Marin, becoming the first West Coast spot.

Looking to go back to work after a stay-at-home stint, Brian and Leslie, who were on a ‘fitness journey,’ got connected to a consulting company that introduced them to the idea. “We thought it’d be great here, because people have more money to invest in their fitness, and people are health-oriented,” Leslie says.

Since opening in October 2017, the business has been booming. “There’s a consistent flow of clients coming in, and I just doubled my staff from five trainers to 10,” Leslie says. The holidays and the new year, all bringing in gift certificate purchases and folks determined to pick up fitness, helped. “We’ll even need to get a third vehicle soon. I’ve been in the community for so long, so I feel like a lot of our business now is referral.”

How is GYMGUYZ different from a gym or a personal trainer? “We perfected the service of in-home training, with all the resources available, and I’m also choosy about the coaches, on my end,” Leslie says. “A huge piece of the business is to hold our clients accountable and motivate them—so many people have a gym membership and never go.”

When a trainer repeatedly visits a client’s home, she adds, a relationship forms—between the burpees and the crunches, people open up and welcome the coaches into their lives, sharing personal information and cracking jokes. “You can’t do that in a gym,” she says.

The Marin County clientele is pretty varied, according to Leslie. “We work with kids, seniors, mothers, cancer survivors, a client who had a stroke and is only looking for some movement. Most are women and most of them are in their late 30s to 40s.”

There are also some companies, from San Francisco to San Mateo, ranging from IT to construction. Bigge Crane and Rigging, out of San Leandro, is a client, providing its employees with motivating workouts; the apartment complex The Cove at Tiburon, is another. They reached out to GYMGUYZ to host a bootcamp for residents, kids and adults.

To start the journey, Leslie visits the home of a client and takes measurements and biometrics, then discusses packages for individual training and personal training, with which a meal plan and a free reassessment arrive. She picks the right coach, and connects them with the client. A discussion of the program and the clients’ needs and expectations follows; then, it’s off to work.

“Usually everyone loves their coaches, and it really becomes a relationship—and a lot of people stick with them,” Leslie says.

Molly McMahon is a San Rafael-based personal trainer certified in corrective exercise and TRX, among other things, who joined GYMGUYZ recently.

“I like the in-home aspect, since a lot of people I work with don’t go to the gym—it’s not appropriate for them if they’re recovering from an illness, or it’s just too intimidating for them, as everyone’s looking at you in a gym setting,” McMahon says. She describes her directive as seeing her clients moving around painlessly and freely, rather than just losing weight. She decided to join the program for its flexibility and limitless possibilities.

“Leslie is able to cultivate the perfect team, and always helps me out if I need a piece of equipment,” McMahon says. On her end, the framework takes the at-home workout to a more professional level, protecting both the client and the trainer from awkward situations and misunderstandings. “In Marin, a lot of clients are aiming to go back to normal lifestyles after injuries or illnesses, or wealthier people who already have a home gym set up are looking to add a trainer to the mix, but my bread and butter are really the people who just want to live a pain-free life.”

Recently, the Dempseys were given the “Fastest Ramp Up” award at the annual GYMGUYZ conference for their fast growth, highlighting them among the 21 new franchisees of 2017.

“We pride ourselves on running the business with compassion and integrity, and it shines through—that’s important to me and to my coaches, and the clients feel that,” Leslie says. “One of the big reasons we’re doing well is that I focus on relationship-building with clients, with companies—I follow up with them, I know what’s going on in their lives, I’m very available.”

As for the workout, the convenience of not having to leave home is key.

“I come and leave the house just as I found it, and when you work out at home, it’s way easier to change your lifestyle,” McMahon says. “If you just worked out in your living room, it’s easier to eat a healthy breakfast when you sit at the kitchen [table] and look at the living room; it’s right there—it’s not another place, it’s not ‘tomorrow.’ It’s just little things, just changing your habits, and it works.”  

No more excuses then.

GYMGUYZ; 415/448-8100; gymguyz.com.

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