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Fitness 19: Keeping it Simple

A classic workout at Fitness 19

We thought we had covered a lot with our Artvoice Health & Fitness issue when we realized there was something missing: a traditional gym or fitness center. Artvoice videographer Sean McElroy immediately took his camera out to Fitness 19 for a visit. While Fitness 19 is a national chain, former California resident Rod Nagy, who has opened five locations in the Buffalo area runs things his own way, even omitting the Fitness 19 national website from his advertising. He’s obviously doing something right because his strategy for growth has proved very successful. These gyms don’t particularly focus on classes or personal trainers, they’re designed for people who want to get in and get out quickly. They just provide massive numbers of top of the line equipment and machines, plenty of parking, daycare for your kids and they open the doors at 5 a.m. Basically, come in, work up a sweat, drive away and have a nice day.

AV: Can you tell us about Fitness 19?

RN: Fitness 19 was actually the first fitness center to really promote low cost memberships and have high quality equipment [Hammer Strength, Life Fitness, and Precor]. They wanted to put the cost of the membership right in the name so the nineteen actually stood for $19 per month. Actually, now all of our memberships range between about $5 to nineteen $19 per month.

AV: How do you choose where to open a new gym?

RD: Well, the biggest thing that we try to do is put our gyms in neighborhoods so you don’t have to go far to get fit. Right now we have five in the greater Buffalo area and they are in neighborhoods that are easily accessible to our members. I’ve really studied this and I’ve learned that convenience is the number one key that people need.

We also created workout centers where people don’t have to sign a twelve to a thirty-six month contract binding them to the fitness center. All of our memberships are month-to-month. If something comes up and somebody has to move or they’re sick or there’s a medical problem, whatever the case might be, you don’t have to have a reason to cancel, you’ve just got to have to give a thirty day notice; that makes it more simple.

AV: We’ve noticed you’ve opened your gyms right next to supermarkets and also seem to have taken a page from the Wegmans playbook and their W Kids room.

RN: The biggest obstacle for a lot of working families have was that they didn’t have time for the gym, and when they do have free time they’ve got family responsibility; they’ve got to take care of their kids. So we put in childcare facilities in our locations and they are staffed with friendly people. Usually the people that work in the kid’s rooms have kids of their own. So if you’re coming off a hectic day and you’d like to go to the gym but you don’t have anyone to watch the kids, well heck, bring them with you, we’ll watch them for you while you get a great workout.

—AV Interview by S.M.

Fitness 19 has multiple locations in Western New York. Visit

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