By Marianna Levine
Rich Decker of Studio 89, a personal training facility in Sag Harbor, has recently been hired by the Hamptons Gym Corporation (owned by Alexis and Martha Stewart) to manage all three of their East End facilities. Decker, a personal trainer and fitness facility manager for over 23 years, was employed earlier this month not only for his experience but also for his solid ties to the local community according to Decker.
Decker who used to own and operate the Sag Harbor gym more than a decade ago in its pervious incarnation as American Fitness Factory elaborates, “All of the gyms’ facilities needed to make changes in their customer appreciation. The only way I said I was coming back was if we started to take care of the local community.”
What Decker specifically means is he intends to listen personally to all members’ suggestions, so that the gyms may operate in a positive, client-focused way. He discovered this type of membership appreciation, as well as respect, was lacking in the previous management’s organization.
“I want to run this place with humility and gratitude. I tell my front desk staff that if a member has a complaint give them my cell phone. I want to hear what they have to say and listen to their suggestions.”
The first change Decker decided to implement was an “Under New Management” membership special which he will extend to both new and existing members. Meaning a year’s membership for facility use will only be $399, and $499 for a membership that includes classes now through April 30. The existing members will be able to add a year onto their membership at these prices. He will also offer a 20% senior discount and 10% student discount for memberships. Members will be allowed to use all three gyms whenever they like.
“This is a special we’ll be offering before the summer season hits, and is around $200 less then what it will be later on,” said Decker.
The other big change he is prepared to announce is that Tikki Barber ’s new spin class “Fly Wheel” will also be offered in a newly remodeled bike room. This program will be offered at the Sag Harbor gym exclusively. Decker explains this will be a separate operation within the gym; however there will still be at least two regular spin classes offered each day as well. Former NY Gaint Tikki Barber will be at the gym in person to introduce Fly Wheel in May. Decker also mentions a new day care program will be offered for the summer.
Decker states “we’re doing a hybrid program so that members get the benefits of both. In the end it just means a lot more spin classes each day.”
In the meantime, Decker is focusing on cleaning and servicing the existing buildings and their equipment.
“We’re cleaning the places top to bottom. I had the facilities acid washed, and we’re using all eco-friendly cleaners. I wanted to start with a fresh, clean facility; and we’re doing this bit by bit without inconveniencing the members.
Decker however did say they would be redoing the spin room in the next few weeks. He also mentioned that the Sag Harbor gym has been repainted.
There may be more changes forthcoming but Decker said he doesn’t want to implement them without first gathering all the information he needs to make the best decisions for the members.
“I have already seen the energy level increase greatly in the past seven days,” said Decker “but I don’t want to make too many changes too quickly. I’m getting a lot of letters from members and I’m looking at them. For now I want it to be a welcoming environment for the existing staff as well as for our members, so that when I’m not physically there they have the same customer focus as I do.”
When asked how he intends to continue running his studio as well as manage the other three gyms, Decker replies, “To run four facilities is not rocket science. You keep everything that works and get everything organized. In every case we’ll do what’s right for our customers. I’ve owned four gyms before on both the North and South Fork. This is actually easier because they’re all on the South Fork.”
Decker explains he splits his time between all four facilities each day from 5 a.m. until 7 or 8 at night. He changes the order in which he visits the gyms each day. He also explains that his Studio 89 doesn’t directly compete with the Hamptons Gyms, as his studio only offers private personal training while the other gyms are what he refers to as “one box gyms,” meaning in one space you can work out on your own or get training as well as take several different fitness classes.