NEW BEDFORD — After she and her husband had their daughter about a year ago, Ali McGrath wanted to get back into her running routine and add some strength training. But when it came to joining a gym or hiring a personal trainer, she had some reservations about traditional fitness industry business models.
“I was looking to get back into exercise and really wanted to lose the rest of my baby weight that I was having a hard time losing on my own, but given the current climate and having a toddler at home, I was nervous about getting back in the gym,” she said.
McGrath, a Princeton resident currently residing on Cape Cod for the summer, says she found her training solution in Agile Fitness. Owned by New Bedford resident Jason Cotsoridis, the business, which began operations in March, offers the capabilities of a full-scale gym, but on wheels.
Entirely contained within a custom-built trailer designed to travel to where clients are, the Agile Fitness mobile gym can be used with all its panels open for an outdoor workout experience, or as an enclosed space complete with heat and air-conditioning.
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“It’s really nice,” said McGrath, noting that he started Agile Fitness services in April. “I especially enjoy working out outside, so that’s been a real added bonus for me. And I like not having to worry about anything in terms of having a trainer come to my house and then not having all the equipment they need.” . hope you have.”
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“I don’t know of anyone who does this,” Cotsoridis said, noting that he has come across similar gym businesses with a mobility component, but none to his knowledge that are as versatile as Agile Fitness.
But before starting a family, moving to New Bedford, and embarking on a journey to be an innovator in the fitness industry, Cotsoridis says he long assumed the professional side of his life was pretty much planned.
“I had only been a teacher my whole life,” Cotsoridis said of his experience in education at Ella T. Grasso Southeastern Technical High School in Groton, Connecticut, where he taught US history, introductory law and was also a coach for 20 years. years. “I got my job right out of college and I thought I was going to be a career teacher like they used to be, when old school teachers find a job, stay there for 40 years, get the gold watch and retire.
“And that was going to be me, that was going to be my story.”
But after marrying his wife, Christina, a New Bedford city employee, and the birth of their son Magnus, now 2, a convergence of circumstances led the couple to move from Charlestown, Rhode Island, to the whaling city. , where Agile Fitness took place.
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“When COVID hit, my son was still a newborn and it wasn’t a safe situation for my family, so I knew he needed a new career,” Cotsoridis said, noting that his course load at the time had him teaching almost 200 students. “And with my wife’s job, there was a residency requirement in place for her to live in New Bedford, so we landed here.”
When it came to career change considerations, Cotsoridis says his thought process gravitated toward his side jobs as a personal trainer and karate instructor, as well as a coach. However, not being completely satisfied with the idea of merging into a different path, he decided to create one of his own.
“During the pandemic, a lot of personal trainers were going to driveways, working in people’s garages and trying to figure out a way to make it work, and I felt like I could do better,” he said. “So my wife and I sat down and started talking about things like, what does that mean? What does that look like? And then this concept was born.”
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“It was terrifying, absolutely terrifying,” Cotsoridis said of the decision to jump into business. But now, after about five months in the business, he says following his vision seems to be paying off, as momentum around Agile Fitness builds and the vision evolves.
Since its inception, Cotsoridis says Agile Fitness has opened up an additional realm of opportunity by working with companies to make employees feel and work their best.
“I’ve branched out, working with corporations and human resources departments at various companies to bring them things like HIIT (high-intensity interval training) classes, half-hour cardio workouts, morning yoga and things like that,” he said. she said, noting that training opportunities on these types of arrangements are typically offered at business sites in the morning before work, during lunch or just after work.
And, thanks to the approval of the Blue Cross Blue Shield health insurance company, those who take advantage of these opportunities often do so at no cost.
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“It’s a way of trying to keep their membership healthy and out of the doctor’s office, so they’re really pushing for a healthier lifestyle and reimbursing companies or people who are training,” Cotsoridis said, noting that Exercise has been shown to increase energy levels. early in the morning, as well as alleviate the infamous shock of the workday at 2 pm after lunch. “That research has become so widely accepted that companies are even doing things like offering their staff the opportunity to exercise on their lunch break and taking an extra 15 minutes to clean up and grab a snack before returning to their workplace. “.
When it comes to the challenges of his business model, Cotsoridis says the biggest ones have to do with transporting the 16,000-pound trailer and the additional 4,200 pounds of gym equipment it contains.
“Gasoline prices have been one of the biggest challenges for this business, and I have to drive this very slowly,” he said, noting that he had to buy a newer, more powerful truck to tow the trailer. “I have a client in Canton, that’s as far north as I go, and I go as far west as Swansea.”
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As for the Agile Fitness outlook, Cotsoridis says he can see a potential future that includes additional trainers on staff and maybe even more trailers parked in different locations. But those hopes for business growth aren’t just for the good of the company.
“If there’s an event coming up on Saturday afternoon, and that’s family time that I’ve already spent, I now have a tough decision to make: do I do something to move the business forward, or do I focus on what is More importantly, stay home with the family? Cotsoridis said. “So with more staff those decisions become easier and then as long as everything works out maybe there are additional locations with other trailers.”
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Meanwhile, Cotsoridis says he feels lucky to have moved to New Bedford for the start of Agile Fitness. “When I left my job, my wife’s residency was starting in six months, so we quickly snatched this place up and moved to New Bedford and everything has been positive,” he said, noting that he has benefited from entrepreneurial resources in the city such as Groundworks. and EforAll. “I wasn’t aware of the huge renaissance that New Bedford was going through, but… the whole city has so much energy, you just feel in the air that things are happening and changing and moving.”
As for McGrath, who, like Cotsoridis, also has professional experience in the field of education, he says he hopes he can work out a deal that will allow him to continue training with Agile Fitness even after he returns to Princeton in the fall. . “This has worked very well for us,” he said. “I don’t see myself going back to a standard gym.”
For more information on Agile Fitness, visit www.agilehealthandfitness.com.