By Zipporah Osei
As we approach the new year, many people are setting their sights on a new fitness goal: shed some weight, build muscle, or increase mobility. But the difference between setting a goal and realizing it is often consistency and community. As the co-owner of R3VIVE Fitness, Joel Zayas knows that well.
“A lot of people, usually during the beginning of the year, they’re highly motivated then things fall off,” the trainer said. “We preach consistency over anything else because motivation is big but it does dwindle. That just naturally happens so what’s important is to be consistent.”
R3VIVE Fitness, located at 435 Melnea Cass Blvd. in Boston, is a functional fitness gym that offers individual and group training programs. Living healthier is routinely one of the most popular New Year’s resolutions, and if you’re one of the millions of people planning to exercise more, Boston.com readers recommend you try R3VIVE. Readers named the gym as one of the best local businesses in the area and praised its owners for creating an environment that inspires personal and communal growth.
“R3VIVE Fitness is a great place to get stronger, reach your fitness goals, and build community! The coaches are really caring and have helped me recover from an injury. The other gym members are really friendly,” Kris D. from Boston shared. “It helps me to get out of bed and to the gym knowing there will be smiling faces and jokes waiting…along with the hard workouts.”
At the gym, you’ll find training with attention to detail. Each new member starts off with a personalized consultation, whether they’re looking for private lessons or not. Zayas said these meetings help clients to focus on their goals and give trainers the information they need to help them find success. They discuss each member’s background with fitness, their mindset, and preconceived attitudes about working out, and try to establish a trusting relationship.
As hard as the trainers push members to perform their best, Zayas said it’s also important to extend grace during a fitness journey.
“We’re not competitive. I think we do it in a very well-balanced manner because we also have to understand that some days, your win is just showing up and we’re there to support that,” he said. “I think people understand that, and they go hard for us just because we give them that respect.”
Their foundations program, which lasts six to eight weeks, also comes with regular check-ins with trainers. For Ben W. from Cambridge, the relationships built with trainers and other members make a real difference in the gym-going experience.
“The staff is kind, knowledgeable, and extremely attentive to safety and good mechanics. It is a friendly place to work out, and part of the reason I go so frequently (more frequently than I have ever gone to a gym) is because the gym has fostered a warm community of staff and other gym-goers,” he said. “I have not only become good friends with many people there, but I have also gotten into the best shape of my life. I recommend this gym so often, my non-gym friends are getting sick of it!”
R3VIVE opened in 2019, less than a year before the first COVID-19 lockdowns. As a new business, Zayas and his co-founders were lucky to stay active throughout the pandemic. With the support of their clients, landlord, and grants from the city, they held outdoor and virtual training sessions. Remote training is still part of their offerings for those that need it, but Zayas said the in-person experience is where clients get the most benefits.
“I think that’s one of the things that people value most about us is that they come to the space with a lot of people that are like-minded. Not just the coaches but the members, and so that motivates them to keep coming back,” he said.
Zayas co-founded the gym with Derek Saffold and Oz Delgado, who each spent years working in the fitness industry. Prior to starting this gym, Zayas worked as a trainer at a local CrossFit, but he said his love of fitness started during childhood in Boston’s South End. Zayas played Little League through South End Baseball and went on to train and perform with The Floor Lords, a youth hip-hop dancing collective based in Boston.
As he got older, injuries from break-dancing forced Zayas to look for alternatives to stay active. The trainer said functional training helped him find the movements that made day-to-day fitness easier.
“I needed another outlet. I needed some method for getting stronger so that way I wasn’t just strong in the short term, but also in the long term. I found functional fitness, which was just a good combination of being able to move with purpose, train with purpose,” he said.
When it came time to open his own fitness center, it made a lot of sense to do it close to home.
“We wanted to build something that had those community values, but also we gave back to the business and gave it all the attention that it deserved,” Zayas said. “We’re right there on Shawmut and Melnea Cass. We are minutes away from where I grew up and so it’s a good way for us to be embedded in our local community.”
Zayas and his co-founders try to give back to the community by partnering with other local businesses and non-profit organizations to better the neighborhood he grew up in. Chris from the South End said he appreciates having a mission-driven small business in his backyard.
“R3VIVE is a place I wish there were more of in Boston,” he said. “It bridges the gap not only between communities but also between fitness levels.”
This store is one of the dozens of local businesses recommended by readers as among the best in the Greater Boston area. See Boston.com’s list of local businesses here. Find the businesses listed in the interactive map below.
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