Fitness Businesses That Are Changing the World

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Fitness Businesses That Are Changing the World

We can’t help but to feel admiration for our amazing customers and all the great things they do in this world. Each one of our more than 3,000 customers makes this world a better place by changing lives through education, fitness and health and wellness programs. For us, being able to support our customers as they change lives humbles us deeply and makes our job worthwhile.

In celebration of their sacrifices and extraordinary gifts to our world, we compiled a few stories that represent the heart and soul of our customers. This is just a small snippet of the larger story: the story of our customers changing lives through fitness.

Kelber Coaching & Gantry Kids

After working for 10 years as an attorney, Michele Kelber followed her dream of changing lives through fitness. She studied nutrition and exercise, became a wellness coach and started her business, Kelber Coaching. Because of her own challenges with health and physical wellness in the past, Michelle was uniquely suited and singularly driven to support others who “made the courageous choice” to change their lives.

At Kelber Coaching, Michele trained fitness clients and provided compassionate wellness coaching. She also worked with clients with special needs and taught a children’s CrossFit class. Eventually, Michele was called to dedicate all of her time to children. She realized she could make a huge impact working with kids because a habit formed in youth will impact a person throughout their entire lifetime.

Today, Michele owns and runs Gantry Kids, New York’s first CrossFit dedicated to our youth. Gantry Kids has classes and programs for kids all ages, from their “Baby Jam” class to their wildly successful teen program. Due to poplar demand, they even offer one-on-one, by appointment only, personal training sessions for parents who are inspired by the awesome fun their kids have.

Gantry Kids

Cheer360

Kristin Perri has been interested in sports-specific wellness all her life, thanks, in part, to her experience as a cheerleader throughout high school, college, and All-Star teams. At the close of her cheerleading career, Kristen completed a Master’s Degree in Sports Psychology and transitioned to coaching cheer teams. She also obtained certifications in Sports Hypnotherapy, Mental Game Coaching, and Personal Training.

Throughout this time, Kristin realized that you get out of your body no more than you put into it. She witnessed far too many injuries and lost opportunities that could have been prevented. Unfortunately, it would have taken a comprehensive strength, nutrition, and mental coaching program to support those athletes and no such program existed at that point.

Of course, Kristin wouldn’t let a little thing like that stop her from helping cheer athletes be the best they can be. She and her husband Artie decided to create a program to fill the niche and opened Cheer360 in Smithtown, NY. Now they have the nation’s only cheerleading-specific strength training, nutrition and mental coaching program.

The Cheer360 program coaches and educates athletes so they can achieve, maintain and perform at the highest personal, physical, nutritional, and mental level possible. They support athletes of all ages and specifically work to preempt common athlete pain points: frequent injuries, mental blocks and poor nutrition.

The Cheer360 team is also passionately involved in supporting women’s health and developing leadership skills in young female athletes. This fall they started their first ever Cheer Peer Mentorship Program, with education seminars and scholarship opportunities for their participants.

Cheer360

Oasis Martial Arts

Oasis Martial Arts is literally an oasis in the middle of the hot, dry desert. Started in 2002 with the sole mission of “giving life back to those without hope,” owner Tony Redmond shares the power of martial arts with low-income students in El Mirage, Arizona.

From the beginning, Tony wanted to help underprivileged populations. He established the uncompromising goal of not turning anyone away, regardless of their ability to pay. To do this, Tony maintains his full-time job during the day and teaches martial arts at night and on weekends.

Today, Oasis Martial Arts has over 60 active students and countless alumni who went away to college and successful careers as a result of the confidence and life skills gained through Tony’s martial arts instruction. Although there have been challenges along the way, every day is rewarding for Tony. He says that students come to Oasis as downtrodden and insecure seven-year-olds but leave with a black belt on their way to college.

On more than one occasion, students returned after college graduation to thank Tony for the priceless gift he gave them. They tell him that they wouldn’t have taken the same path had they not been exposed to the transformative power of martial arts.

Oasis Martial Arts

Level Ground MMA

Alexandra (Ali) Fuller started dreaming about changing lives through Brazilian Jiu Jitsu the first time she walked onto the mat. With a background in non-profit and social justice work, she recognized that martial arts build confidence and self-determination while creating trust and lasting friendships.The longer she practiced Jiu Jitsu, the more disciplined, focused, humble, and resilient Ali became in all aspects of her life. It was only natural for her to pass this experience on to youth in the Boston area.

Level Ground launched in July 2013 to teach mixed martial arts to urban youth who typically do not have such opportunities – or many ways to achieve their dreams. Level Ground currently has two locations, serving young men and women between the ages of 12-24 who are exposed to a disproportionate level of violence, poverty, and lack of access to education.

Through the mentorship provided at Level Ground, students learn health and wellness skills, life skills and leadership opportunities. They also receive tutoring resources to promote their academic advancement. Students at Level Ground say that their outlet and training has changed their lives by giving them the tools they need to realize their own abilities and fight for their dreams.

Level Ground MMA

Youth Combine

Matthew Howland was in his third year as a middle school teacher when he started a free after-school fitness program for kids at his school. This class-based fitness program was conceived out of concern for the countless number of kids he saw who couldn’t run a lap around the soccer field without becoming winded. Overall, Matthew knew there was a tremendous need in his area for low-cost, quality fitness for kids because they were often priced out of opportunities to be active and play team sports.

Matthew firmly believes effective fitness programming for our community’s youth should be freely accessible. He feels strongly that it needs to be a community effort to provide such opportunities, not something left up to businesses seeking big profits. With too many kids in his area falling through the cracks, Matthew put all his time and energy into a program he calls Youth Combine.

Within weeks of its creation, the after-school program was a huge success. The children and teens were excited to participate and realized being active was fun. Parents were also happy about the difference they saw in their children’s energy levels and improved performance in school. The results were so amazing that members of the community urged Matthew to consider expanding it. In 2012, he incorporated Youth Combine as a 501c3 non-profit. It was then that Matthew quit his job teaching, sold his car for some extra cash and took up the fight for kids’ fitness.

Today, Youth Combine provides that much-needed fitness programming and wellness education for over one hundred children throughout Gainsville, FL. With classes and programs at countless schools around town, his team is able to provide exposure to sports and fitness that will propel these kids into a life of health and wellness.

Youth Combine after school fitness program

To read more about these amazing organizations, click the links above. If you have a story you want to share about community leaders inspiring others through fitness, please let us know by emailing shilo@zenplanner.com. We’d love to feature your story too.


Check out our latest eBook, Fitness Business Management Time Traps to Avoid. This guide will help you identify which tasks are taking up too much of your time, how to avoid these traps in the future and, most importantly, how creating efficiencies can help you better build relationships with your members.

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Shilo Lucyk

Shilo Lucyk

In her spare time Shilo enjoys teaching yoga classes, doing CrossFit® and reading anything she can get her hands on.

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