When personal trainer Kirk Myers moved to New York City in 2010 at age 32, he was starting from scratch.
Over the course of three years, Myers gradually built up his clientele through word of mouth: "I had two clients, then four clients, then eight clients, then 16 clients."
He even landed Hugh Jackman. "It was a referral through two clients I was training," says Myers. "They knew his bodyguard. ... And so they introduced me and I trained them one time and they liked it, so then they kept booking sessions."
Here's Myers training the actor:
His client base got so big that local gyms started kicking him out. Myers realized he needed to open his own place. At this point, "I was able to afford living in New York and a little bit of cushion," he tells Make It, but he didn't have the money to open a gym.
"So I started raising capital. I asked clients if they wanted to invest in the gym. I came up with a business model."
Myers raised more than $1.5 million, enough to start The Dogpound. Doors officially opened in early 2016.
Today, The Dogpound serves about 300 clients. It's a star-studded list: Members include Victoria's Secret models, celebrities like Ryan Seacrest and professional athletes like Conor Dwyer. You have to know an existing client to join — and to get off the 100-person wait list.
I stopped by to meet Myers, check out the exclusive gym and work up a sweat myself.
Since Myers caters his training sessions to the individual client, no workout is the exact same. But if you're training at The Dogpound, you can expect two things: A full-body workout that engages the core, legs and arms, and a lot of burpees.
While the most effective exercise "depends on the person you are training and what their goal is," Myers emphasizes, generally speaking, you're going to get the most bang for your buck with burpees. "It spikes your heart rate up and works your full body."
Make exercise a priority, no matter how busy you are, says Myers: "Everyone has time. … You take a shower every day, so it's the same type of thing."
"It's not so much about being effective in 20 minutes," he adds. "It's more about consistency."
It'll be easier to incorporate exercise into your routine if you're doing something you actually enjoy, says Myers: "If it's running, then go with that. If it's walking, go with that. If it's lifting weights, go with that. One of the keys is finding something that you love. You're more likely to do it consistently."
While working out regularly is part of the equation to staying in shape, it's not everything. In fact, "diet is probably 70 percent of it," says Myers.
Unlike most gyms, you don't pay for a membership and work out on your own or sign up for group classes. At The Dogpound, it's all one-on-one, personalized training.
A 60-minute private session costs $200 but, if you're working out with Myers, it'll cost you five times that amount.
"I made my personal rate really high. … I looked at who was the highest-paid trainer and I made mine higher," he tells Make It. That meant bumping his price up to $1,000 an hour.
It's "outrageous, a little bit," says Myers, whose rate was $40 an hour when he first started training 17 years ago, "but it's more of a marketing thing." Plus, "I watch a lot of motivational videos … and a part of it is seeing yourself worth that much."
While Myers charges up to $1,000, here are the standard rates and packages for 60-minute sessions at The Dogpound.
Single session: $200
12 sessions: $2,280
24 sessions: $4,200
50 sessions: $7,500
Semi-private sessions: $125 per person
I can't leave The Dogpound without getting in a workout with the celebrity trainer. I tell Myers that I'm a runner and mostly do cardio, but I want to incorporate more strength training into my routine. I also tell him not to hold back.
He takes me through a high-intensity style workout. As promised, there are burpees right away — but these aren't your typical burpees: They involve a Bosu ball with a knee-to-elbow movement.
Also as promised, it's a full body workout. Medicine ball squats wear out my legs.
The ski machine (not pictured) and rope work my arms.
My core is engaged the entire time, and that's on purpose, Myers tells me.
At one point, I hop on what's called an "assault bike" and have to burn 10 calories as fast as possible. It only takes 30 seconds but it's harder than any marathon I've ever run.
We end with the tire flip. It looks fun, but it isn't easy.
Miraculously, I manage to flip the 160-pound tire. Even Myers calls it "impressive."
I experience a new degree of muscle fatigue the next day. It's a good kind of sore, the kind that makes you want to come back for more. While I won't have room for $1,000-an-hour training sessions in my budget anytime soon, I can make room for more burpees in my future workouts.
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