STATEN ISLAND, NY – With a room full of hoops, slam balls, plyometric boxes and battle ropes, BK Society Fitness is not your average gym. There are no treadmills or elliptical machines, and heavy equipment is limited. Instead, there’s a schedule packed with high-intensity functional classes and plenty of alternative strength and cardio options—all designed to make your workout both practical and purposeful.
“This entire concept came about during COVID when my husband Eric, who has been a personal trainer for over 10 years, started this fitness community that would meet every morning for boot camps and outdoor workouts,” noted Stella Ganolli, who owns the new and runs Dongan Hill’s gym with her husband Eric Martinez.
“I watched what he was doing and encouraged him to start his own business,” Ganolli continued. “It goes way beyond fitness. It’s really about encouragement and support. He has created a wonderful safe space that is comfortable even for those who hate a gym environment. I don’t think there are other coaches or trainers out there who support their clients like he does.”
The gym, which officially opened on June 1, has that garage/cross-fit feel, but isn’t a facility intensively inhabited by gym rats. According to Ganolli, most customers are average men and women looking to improve their health and well-being.
“The fitness industry is extremely competitive,” Ganolli said. “Having trained independently during COVID, it was difficult for Eric to find a space that suited the type of training he believed in. So we jumped at the chance and opened this gym.”
The couple hails from Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, so they decided to name their business BK Society Fitness.
“We actually looked at places in Brooklyn — Red Hook and Cobble Hill — but the rents were so high,” Ganolli said. “We decided Staten Island was the perfect place because it’s only five minutes across the bridge. Close enough for our customers in Brooklyn to travel to, but also an opportunity to introduce the concept to a whole new audience.”
The space was new construction, but it still took the couple two months to get it just right. Together they painted, hung mirrors and bought the right equipment to make BK Society Fitness a reality.
“We’ve grown very organically since then,” Ganolli said. “It’s a beautiful area and word of mouth is slowly spreading about this gym. We love the sense of community that we have been able to build here in such a short time.”
Ganolli defines the gym genre as functional interval training and says Martinez’s workouts aim to help clients strengthen their body to perform everyday activities.
“This is not a HIIT boot camp,” Ganolli said. “Yes, you’re out here hitting a giant truck tire with a sledgehammer and mimicking the moves of chopping wood, but it’s a workout that teaches you how to be better at picking up your kids, throwing a baseball, or carrying your groceries.” It’s a fun way to exercise that also teaches you how to use your body properly.”
Classes are offered throughout the day, and Ganolli says the most popular options are BK Sweat and BK Strong, one of which is cardio-based and the other is strength-focused. Members go through a series of stations at least twice before changing moves. Personal training sessions are offered between courses.
“We also just started a BK Youth Fit program for kids ages six to 12,” Ganolli said. “It costs $10 per session and helps teach stability and balance with a mix of sport, play and teamwork.”
For Ganolli and Martinez, who are both currently studying early childhood education, it’s a perfect fit.
“We love kids and have made it a priority to integrate these classes into our gym.”
But for now, the duo are focused on building a regular clientele by offering different membership tiers and some summer deals to attract gym-goers. A gym membership currently costs $145 a month for a one-year commitment, while a monthly commitment is slightly more expensive at $170.
“If you want to take a class here and there, you can pay $25 each time,” Ganolli concluded. “Right now we are running a BK Summer Saturdays deal where BK Sweat and Shadowbox classes are reduced to $15.”