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Herald Neighbors

Great gains: Oceanside High School alum builds NYC gym brand

Oceanside High School alumnus Marc Miller bought into a partnership at Independent Training Spot in Manhattan.
Oceanside High School alumnus Marc Miller bought into a partnership at Independent Training Spot in Manhattan.
Courtesy Marc Miller

Marc Miller understands what trainers need to succeed in the fitness industry. The 39-year-old Oceanside native had enjoyed a lengthy tenure as a regular trainer at the first Independent Training Spot in Manhattan — where the clientele is fitness trainers — but he sensed his entrepreneurial spirit emerging and bought into a partnership with the founder four years ago.

The ITS business model is atypical; instead of hoping to attract the general public, Miller aims to reach Manhattan-based trainers who reserve time and space at ITS to train their clients.

“I was training all my clients at the 28th Street location, but it was not ready for that influx and needed to be enhanced in order to accommodate them,” said Miller, who now resides in Forest Hills, Queens with his wife and two children. “I was there so often and did so much work that I eventually bought into the business and became a partner. But I never set out to do that.”

The risk is proving to yield rewards, as Miller recently celebrated the opening of the newest — and largest — ITS location on 39th Street in July. Though ITS must appeal to a niche market, Miller’s large network and reputation as a trainer provides him with some advantages to sustain and expand the business.

“The chance for independent training to be successful in Manhattan is greater than other areas in New York, just because of the number of trainers and clients per square mile,” Miller said from the 3,500-square foot 39th Street location. “We looked at that, and the number of trainers who had clients in Manhattan, and we felt good about planting another flag there.”

Leanness is reflected in the ITS aesthetic, particularly at 39th Street. Dumbbells and kettle bells line the perimeter of the L-shaped space, as do standing rowing machines, therapy and stretch tables, stationary bikes and other workout staples. The equipment and amenities are clean and new, and aside from some custom branding, the flashiness of a franchise gym is absent. Furthermore, there are no televisions lining the walls and the music plays at a reasonable level so that distractions are minimized. This establishes an efficient and focused setting for the fitness specialists to train their clients.

Accommodating the trainers is a top priority because of the ITS business model. And with so many coming and going, one of the biggest challenges is developing a spirit of camaraderie among the clientele. But as someone who rose through the ranks, Miller said he knows a regimen that sets the right tone.

“The trainers will always do what’s best for them, so our goal is to be the best we can be, and be humble and be their concierge,” he said. “People know each other at the 28th Street location because it’s been there the longest and I’m hoping that will transcend to our other locations as well.”

By his own admission, Miller was an average student while attending Oceanside High School, but he said it was there where the class of 1998 graduate first saw gains in a gym. He now has several training certifications, including having reached a Level 3 instructor designation from Gym Jones. Miller graduated from Hofstra University and received his master’s from Adelphi University, but does not hold a masters in business administration. He said his business philosophy mirrors his “you are what you do” fitness credo — which is all rooted in a bootstrapping mentality.

“I started by scrubbing toilets and stocking shelves,” Miller said. “You have to experience everything you can and get on-the-job training. If you are consistent over a period of time, then you have earned what you become.”

For more about ITS, visit IndependentTrainingSpot.com.