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Behind the Iron with BODYPRO GYM

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By: 
The Editors

To say that we’re humbled is an understatement. After we published the BODYPRO GYM Hamilton review to our website, we almost immediately were inundated with emails and messages asking a bunch of questions as well as requesting more information. As much information as we gathered from our initial trip, there’s so much more to learn and experience.

BODYPRO GYM Hamilton is by far one of the best gyms we’ve ever been to, and because there have been so many requests, we made another appearance to sit down with the crew and add a part two in an effort to answer some of the questions that we’ve seen in our inbox.

For those who haven’t read the initial review, please click here to check it out.

One-on-One Sit-Down Q&A with BODYPRO GYM Hamilton

Q. Our readers can’t seem to get enough of your gym, from the outpouring of messages we received from our first sit-down. Let’s give them a deeper dive into BODYPRO GYM and start from the beginning. How did the idea of building BODYPRO GYM Hamilton come about? Was it always something you wanted to do?

A. It’s funny you should ask. Being that we’ve always been into health and fitness, it’s only natural that most people dream of building the “ultimate gym.” We looked at the North American gym marketplace and realized that no one was really serving the needs of serious fitness enthusiasts. We did a lot of research and discovered some interesting findings.

For starters, the iconic look and feel of Gold’s Gym has pretty well disappeared in Canada as well as in the US. Where they operate in the US (other than the original Gold’s in Santa Monica), they are trying to compete with “fitness gyms” by offering aerobics classes, plenty of cardio equipment, and not really a great variety of specialized workout equipment that the hardcore lifters would be looking for.

Another well-known gym from back in the day that has changed considerably is World’s Gym. They have moved to a $10 per month model to attract the mass market. After going through their transition, they now offer little in the way of enough great equipment.

Powerhouse has also disappeared from Canada and closed a lot of their US locations. The hardcore feel of Powerhouse that was once a staple is now considered a niche and is slowly dying off.

It became increasingly obvious to us that the “big three” brands that started out as gyms for the serious lifter had changed their business model to a softer and more mainstream look and feel. No one was providing a real workout gym for serious lifters.

The fitness clubs in existence, like LA Fitness, provide limited equipment. We’re talking about only two or three leg extension machines and dumbbells that only go up to 100 pounds. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but heavy lifters exceed those weights quickly and if nothing is available, their strength and muscle growth can stall.

Locations like LA Fitness cater to the mass market because they need 7,500 members per club in order to succeed and keep their doors open. And really, they don’t want the serious lifters occupying their equipment for a long time. Many of these gyms are hoping for sign-ups that rarely show up to the gym. We want all of our members to come frequently and reap the benefits of all we have to offer.

GoodLife, which is another fairly well-known gym in Canada, is very similar to LA Fitness in that they have a very limited amount of equipment and follow this new “mass market” operational philosophy.

The final conclusion we came to was that the serious lifters had been forgotten. They no longer had a “home” where they can push their mind and body to the limit and be inspired every time they walk through the gym doors. It was because of this that we knew the direction we needed to go when starting BODYPRO GYM Hamilton.

Q. When did you first open your flagship gym location?

A. While we were eager to be open for business and finish building the ultimate gym, we didn’t want to rush things. We ended up spending all of 2018 building the gym and officially opened our doors in January 2019.

Q. Before COVID-19, it seemed like the large gym chains were changing the gym business and the experience was different from that which was popular in the ‘80s and ‘90s. How is BODYPRO GYM different from GoodLife, LA Fitness, and all of the other mass-market fitness clubs?

A. The most noticeable thing, at least from a visual standpoint, is what you see upon walking through our doors. There’s no shortage of equipment—and we did that on purpose. Everything from the colours on the wall, the amenities, and staff were carefully chosen to provide our members with the best experience possible.

When our members walk into our gyms, we want to provide them with an experience that makes them never want to leave. We pride ourselves on that. The BODYPRO GYM member experience is unlike any of the commercial gyms in existence.

BODYPRO GYM locations provide a model where no salespeople are on commission so there is no need to be overly pushy and salesy, which can lead to a poor first impression. You only get one shot at making a good impression, so this was important to us.

We do not have any membership specials. Our rates are never discounted. We feel that our gym is the best in the world and we priced our monthly fees to be competitive considering everything our locations have to offer.

Also, we wanted to be able to cater to members who aren’t able to exercise during what we consider “normal operating hours.” Therefore, BODYPRO GYM is open 24 hours a day Monday through Friday and on weekends from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.

When it comes to marketing, we’re a little different. Rather than spending thousands and thousands on marketing and letting our gym fall apart with dirty and broken equipment, we spend more on facility cleaning costs than we do on marketing. Why, you may ask? Because we value each and every member. It’s commonly said in business that it’s easier to maintain your customers than it is to find new ones. So, the cost of maintenance and cleanliness is extremely important to us.

We also feel that our vast line of equipment is something that separates us from everyone else out there. We provide a greater variety of workout equipment under one roof than any other gym in existence (at least that we know of). Where do we even start with all of the equipment? We have: 15 leg extension machines, 14 leg curl machines, 12 leg press machines, 8 squat racks, 10 hack squats, 11 calf machines, 55 back machines, 45 chest machines, 24 deltoid machines, 20 biceps machines, 20 triceps machines, 30 abdominal machines, 25 glute machines, and 25 adjustable benches! And that’s just off the top of my head. We have members traveling from all over just to experience our gym and atmosphere. People have come from Fort Erie, Niagara Falls, Brantford, Toronto, Georgetown, and Cambridge, just to train at BODYPRO Gym!

Q. That’s quite the list! What’s happening with the gym industry in Hamilton and the surrounding area now that COVID-19 has hit?

A. All gyms were closed as of March 15. We have finally been given the green light to open back up, but as many would imagine, it’s under strict regulations—all of which we follow and abide by.

The unfortunate part regarding COVID-19 is that many businesses, both big and small, in Hamilton and the surrounding area have been under extreme hardship and many have closed their doors for good and have gone out of business. We are extremely blessed to have been in a position where we could weather the storm until it passed, and eventually open back up safely.Q. What measures are they taking now with COVID-19 to keep members safe?

A. We have a comprehensive plan for the safety of our members that goes above and beyond the new opening guidelines. The equipment is sectioned in groups of three. Only one person at a time is permitted to use each section of equipment. We provide one sanitizing station within reach of each section of equipment throughout the club where members are asked to wipe down the equipment when they are done using it. All of our staff are required to wear masks and a face shield at all times. We have doubled our cleaning staff to disinfect equipment after usage to ensure everything in the facility is sanitized. Also, we take each member’s temperature at the reception before allowing entry into the gym to ensure no one is running a fever. Those who have a fever are not allowed to enter until they are fever-free.

Q. It’s definitely different times we are living in. Now, you’ve had a legendary list of fitness celebrities walk through your doors since you’ve been open. Who are some of the fitness greats who have trained here? If I recall, Shawn Rhoden did a video from here and I believe Ronnie Coleman did also, correct?

A. It’s always good to be in the presence of greatness, and we’ve had some of the best walk through our doors. Shawn Rhoden came out and was our Grand Opening guest, which brought a ton of people to our gym. Ronnie Coleman also trained here, along with Angelica Teixeira, Lauralie Chapados, Jodi Boam, Laura Davies, and Yolanda Rosato.

Q. That says a lot about just how special BODYPRO GYM really is. Looking on the wall, I see photos of Zane Watson standing beside his dad. What a great photo. Has Zane trained here?

A. It’s great that you spotted that! These photos are motivating and inspiring, no? But yes, Zane trains here often. He first came to try out BODYPRO GYM with his dad back in early December 2018. His dad, unfortunately, passed away two weeks later in mid-December of 2018. After that, he came in to train several times per week and it was great to have him here.

Q. What about John Robert Cardillo? He’s one of the greats of our industry in Canada and he’s a part of BODYPRO GYM, correct? Didn’t he train Zane at one point?

A. Indeed. He actually started training Zane at BODYPRO GYM, in late spring 2019, to help him get ready for his pro shows as well as prepare for the Olympia stage.

Q. What is the cost of a basic membership for those who want to sign up and join BODYPRO GYM? How much is personal training for those who want to get pushed by one of your trainers?

A. A membership costs $80 per month for daylight access; $110 for 24-hour access. The personal training at BODYPRO GYM is like no other. Our Transformation Mastery department handles personal training and the Shredded Nutrition program.

John Robert Cardillo is the mastermind behind the programs and designed this system of training and nutrition which we use and implement. It serves as the operational model for all future BODYPRO GYM licensed locations as well. But John has his hands involved in all aspects of the programs as well to ensure our members are getting the best service and results. The rates range from $85 to $250 per hour. Workout programs are $300 per month, and the nutrition programs are also $300 per month.

Q. Going along with the personal training topic, can you tell us a little about the personal training service you offer and how you choose your training staff?

A. Our mandate is to only hire Kinesiologists and Physical Education graduates who understand physiology and hypertrophy. It sounds quite extensive, and it's because we want our training staff to be the best around and be incredibly knowledgeable.

All trainers are required to go through a Transformation Mastery certification program, and they also must train each client following our Hi-Intensity HIT3 workout program.

Q. Your training staff has a plethora of equipment choices to utilize with their clients. Just looking around, you have a wide variety of equipment brands under one roof. I can only imagine that the equipment was hand-selected. I see pieces from Strive, Icarian, Hammer Strength, Cybex, Hoist, Nautilus, Star Trac, and Life Fitness. Do you have others as well?

A. Absolutely! We hand-picked every piece of equipment that goes into our gyms. Truthfully, we only want the best sitting in our facilities for our members. For that reason, we searched high and low to bring in some stellar brands and equipment. Some of the other brands you may not have noticed are Arsenault, Atlantis, York (leg presses), Glutenator, Medx, TechnoGym, Matrix, Watson Sports UK, Flex, Magnum, Power Body, Precor and Panatta Sport.

Q. Much respect for seeking out the best of the best. Who had a say in choosing the equipment?

A. When choosing our equipment, we really valued John Robert Cardillo’s opinion and insight into what we needed to have on the floor.

Q. Looking around, I see the equipment is arranged according to body part. I love that. It seems to simplify things when training to maximize time. Why don’t you think more gyms do this?

A. Thank you! We appreciate that and to “us” it makes the most sense. The unfortunate part of this topic is that most gym owners do not work out. Those that have worked out and those who still do, haven’t done it seriously. Therefore, they do not understand how to work a body part for maximum benefit. That is why they open gyms and organize equipment in groups of brands.

You would almost assume that they are being paid by the equipment manufacturers to showcase their equipment in one place, which is not the case. Even if brands would have offered to pay us to section our equipment in that fashion, we would not have accepted the money as the way we have our equipment laid out is (in our eyes) ideal.

Here’s an interesting fact and tidbit for you that you may not have known. The architech of BODY PRO GYM (John Robert Cardillo), is unique. At 19 he opened his first gym by learning how to weld so that he could build his own equipment. He also spent a great deal of time with Arthur Jones, the inventor of Nautilus and Medx. Jones became his mentor. He taught him short duration, high-intensity training, which had to be performed using full range of motion equipment to get the most out of each repetition. John’s mindset was to use the most effective pieces of equipment in his workouts to stimulate as much muscle growth as possible in very few sets of high-intensity exercise.

The methodology of John’s HIT3 workout system is to work a body part by moving from exercise to exercise with little to no rest. Therefore, the equipment has to be strategically located to train in this efficient manner, which is another reason why we have our floor set up the way it is.

Q. I want to make sure my eyes aren’t playing tricks on me. Did I see dumbbells that go up to 300 pounds and a 500-pound lat pulldown machine? 

A. You're correct, and your eyes seem just fine! Many gyms don’t have dumbells that even go up over 100 pounds, surprisingly. But to answer your question, yes, all locations will have dumbbells that go up to 300 pounds. No other gym in the world has 300-pound dumbbells. John Robert Cardillo, commissioned a machine shop that has a unique CNC steel milling machine to make these for us. In addition, all locations will have massive 500-pound lat pull-down machines and 500-pound cable row machines. At BODYPRO GYM, our founder’s philosophy is to eliminate all barriers of exercise. A typical 300-pound lat machine and 300-pound cable row machine is a barrier to success. Imagine if you could load an Olympic bar with only three 45-pound plates to a maximum of 315 pounds, and nothing more? People could potentially hit their max quickly.Q. One of the things we dislike about the “big box” style of gyms is that they have no sense of community. How have you maintained the culture of your gym with your members and kept them loyal?

A. The type of members that we have at BODYPRO GYM all have a similar goal in mind. They are serious about their training and they are there to make personal improvements, not to socialize or dabble, and they’re definitely not sitting around on their phones. They are no-nonsense workout people. Therefore, we all share the same camaraderie.

They also know they are in a special place that was set up for their needs. This is obvious by the first time someone steps into BODYPRO GYM. When they look around and see how the gym is laid out and all the great equipment we have (which the club they came from doesn’t have), they instantly realize this is the gym for them. They are like a kid in a candy store.

An educated workout person is a typical BODYPRO GYM customer. As mentioned earlier, our goal is to cater to serious workout people.

Q. We touched on the picture of Zane with his dad. When I scan the rest of the walls, I notice some of the old MuscleMag exercise illustrations. It definitely gives it a Canadian feel for those who recognize these. Whose idea was it to do this, and are they painted or printed?

A. John was a personal friend of Bob Kennedy, the publisher of MuscleMag. To honour the spirit and enthusiasm that he and Mr. Kennedy shared about working out, we thought it would be a great idea to have artwork collages painted of each body part. They were actually painted on boards. However, we do own the rights to each painting, and we will use them in future BODYPRO GYM locations.

Q. I know with everything going on that you’re unable to have large gatherings, but do you have any upcoming events planned for members?

A. Being that we are in an unusual situation with everything going on, it’s all fluid at the moment. We have to go with the flow regarding all of the regulations and guidelines. This includes everything from how our Nutri Bar Cafe serves shakes and food, to how our members use the locker rooms is being affected. We understand as it’s all in consideration of health and safety concerns.

Licensing an Iconic BODYPRO GYM

Q. What is the goal or number of locations you’d like to achieve for licensed locations in the next five years?

A. We’re looking at slow growth. Our growth model’s similar to that of the Four Seasons: one quality BODYPRO GYM per densely populated city, and never more than one gym per city.

Our cost of entry is substantially higher than most other licensed businesses due to the size of the location, amount of equipment, and amenities offered. We have set a goal of six new locations per year for the first three years. It’s important that each new franchisee and location is carefully chosen to ensure success.

Q. For those who may be interested, what exactly does a new licensed location get if they agree to license a location/territory?

A. The license package includes a ton of support as it’s important for our licensee to be successful in owning a BODYPRO GYM. It’s imperative that they start off on the right foot. We offer support with:

  • Finding the right gym location
  • Premises lease or purchase negotiations
  • Start-up marketing and advertising
  • Gym design and architectural services
  • Building tender package
  • Construction supervision
  • Equipment selection (special corporate pricing)
  • Equipment layout plan
  • Interior signage and artwork
  • Operations manual
  • Management hiring and training
  • Grand Opening launch program
  • Membership software and Processing
  • Ongoing marketing and advertising and website services
  • BODYPRO GYM clothing and supplement store inventory

Accounting & Legal Support

Q. I’m sure your support and help mean the world to them. If I’m correct, you already have licensed locations in Miami, Dubai, and Mumbai. Is that right? Can you give us some details about each of these four locations that make them unique and interesting?

A. Yes. There are currently three under contract. 

Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, everything is on hold until we can travel to approve various location sites. That being said, the three locations under contract are international cities with large population pools. There are plenty of gyms, however, nothing like a BODYPRO GYM. Therefore, these are terrific opportunities for us to grow into.

We are also looking at several properties for a Toronto location, around the 401-Yorkdale area. We will hopefully be announcing this soon.

For more info on BODYPRO GYM Hamilton, visit bodyprogym.ca.

You can also stay connected with them via social media:

Facebook: facebook.com/bodyprogyms/

Instagram: @bodyprogym2018