When super storm Sandy hit last October, Fitness by the Bay owner Mark Falk had no idea the massive bay surge that breached Corey Beach would put him out of business and any hope of rebuilding his Blue Point gym center out of reach.
Initially the Bayport resident had hope, even though when the Great South Bay finally receded it left three feet of water and no roof. Falk had managed to salvage most of the workout equipment, except for the cardio machines, as the storm hit and was banking on FEMA support and small business grant possibilities to repair damage.
But his business was one of those that fell through the proverbial loopholes inherent in assistance programs.
“It’s just been devastating as FEMA and small business assistance programs have been of no help. Business was booming before this,” he told Patch. “It was a great place and I got great results [for clients],” he said.
Within two months after Sandy all hope for rebuilding was gone as bills continued to mount. So Falk embarked on building a new on-location fitness business.
Adversity isn’t new for the 51-year-old. He had been a home trainer for a few years before opening Fitness By the Bay and three months after opening the doors the national economic recession hit.
“All of my clients left. I had to do whatever I could to survive it. I sold everything I owned, my truck, and my belongings," he recalled. "This past year, I finally started doing well. I was really doing well. Then Sandy came. It wiped me out."
While starting over isn’t new, rebuilding the business has presented some unique challenges given that many clients have had to deal with their own post-Sandy issues and then the holiday season hit.
A new year, Falk hopes, will propel his new business forward.
“I love my clients and I loved my location. I chose the location because I thought it was a great place to have a personal training gym,” he said.
Falk’s Fitness Shadow training business services the Bayport, Blue Point, Sayville, Oakdale, Patchogue, Bellport, Bohemia, Holbrook and surrounding areas. There are half-hour and one-hour sessions ranging from weight loss instruction, to general wellness, kids’ fitness and adult fitness and training is available seven days a week. Falk is a NESTA Certified Personal Trainer, with training certifications in kids fitness, postnatal fitness and core training.
“There is very little room needed and I bring the equipment required,” he explained. “It’s all about the client and their goals.”
His website offers up proof of Falk’s results as a trainer, featuring testimonials from clients on how home training can be as effective as gym-site training sessions.
“I have been training with Mark for almost a year now. I haven't felt this good. I feel like I can do anything, and always go the extra mile now. Even training at home - it still works! I get just as good a workout at home as I did at the gym with Mark!,” writes Dawn, a 47-year-old client from Sayville.
Blue Point resident Tina also states that home workouts are as successful as gym sessions.
“Mark truly is a ‘Fitness Shadow’. He inspires you with tailor-made workouts bringing the personal trainer fitness experience to your home. I can now focus on my own progress without feeling discouraged by having to share a facility with more advanced gym members,” she states.
“During my training sessions I’ve learned that working out does so much more for my body than to simply allow me to fit into my favorite pair of jeans again. I’m standing taller and feeling better, and colleagues are asking me what my secret is," Tina adds in her testamonial.
It’s that kind of feedback and client experience that keeps Falk focused on his rebuilding path.
“I love training people. I love when they come to me and tell me things they never tell anyone because they like, trust and respect me. That made me a success. I just love helping people get the results they want,” he said.