New York’s Fitness Boom is a Bust for Some

The New York fitness boom seems to have no limits, but for one kickboxing studio in Chelsea, that’s not necessarily a good thing.

Equinox recently debuted plans for wellness-focused hotels while Life Time Fitness staked claim on a 70,000-square–foot space in Midtown for a brand new gym. National brands have monetized New Yorkers’ wellness obsession, but others, like XFit, a kickboxing studio, aren’t having as much luck. The gym’s owner James Fusaro says his was one of the first kickboxing studios and fitness clubs to plant roots in Chelsea back in 2002. Then, the neighborhood didn’t have the trendy allure it does now.

“It was a little seedy when I first moved here. I had to lower my rate to get people to come train in the area,” Fusaro said.

Now, it seems there’s a gym on every corner. Rents that continue to creep up alongside indefatigable competition, the sole proprietor said, make it increasingly difficult for him to stay in his studio and maintain a roster of clients for personal training.

Fusaro’s future is uncertain.

“I definitely think I’ll be out of this studio, and I might be out of this studio sooner than I think,” Fusaro said.

Leaving would mean that the trainer has to take down the rows of archival photographs from his days as a boxer that line his studio walls alongside and newspaper clippings from big wins.

Perhaps most disappointed by Fusaro’s departure would be his loyal clients—they get a good workout, and also a weekly dose of friendly hectoring from the trainer, a former construction worker, who built all the equipment and furniture in his studio from scratch.