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Manhasset Fitness Center Gearing Up

Get ready for boot camp. Nassau County residents Jonathan Sabino and Freddy Rodriguez are opening a new gym at 601 Plandome Road in Manhasset.

Scheduled to open in late Fall or early September, Manhasset Fitness Center will feature classes that incorporate boot camp and obstacle race training with mixed martial arts conditioning, said Sabino, of Port Washington. The gym will also include separate areas for traditional weight training equipment, personal training and recovery classes such as yoga.

“Our motto is real training, real results,” he said. “We’re not a fad gym. We’re not going to have aerial stripper pole classes.”

The student teacher ratio will remain small, no more than 10 to 1, and classes will be progressive, with a place for beginners and advanced athletes.

“We’re not going to throw people to the wolves,” Sabino said. “We’re not like that.”

For Sabino and Rodriguez, fitness is a lifestyle.

The two “eat, breathe and sleep” fitness, but their goal is to create an inclusive community where beginners are welcome and students are on a first name basis with their teachers.

“Don’t judge me by my appearance – I’m a really nice person,” said Sabino, a personal trainer who has been lifting weights for more than twenty years.  

He was not always in peak physical condition. Sabino was an active child but started gaining weight as an adolescent, which led him to get picked on by his peers. Inspired by '80s action movie heroes like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone, he started lifting.

“It saved my life and I feel that I owe not only myself to it, but it’s a gift that I’m able to share with other people,” Sabino said.

For Rodriguez, of Carle Place, training is a way to escape, and to control his health.

“Honestly, I pretty much fell in love with doing this,” said Rodriguez, who showed up for an interview with an orthopedic boot protecting his foot, which he fractured during a 55-mile run from Manhattan to Lake Ronkonkoma. The run – that he did not train for – was a fundraiser for the Lieutenant Michael P. Murphy Memorial Scholarship Foundation.

Last year Rodriguez finished 25th in the world amongst men in the Spartan Race, an international obstacle race that ranges from 3 miles to more than 25 miles.

“Pretty much I hear the word challenge and I go, “accept,”” said Rodriguez, who works for the Town of North Hempstead in administrative services, and is also a massage therapist and a personal trainer.

Rodriguez had his fitness “ah hah” moment four years ago, when he was 21. Naturally athletic, he never worked out.

In college, a sedentary lifestyle caught up with him when he had trouble reaching his third floor walkup. Going up the stairs one day with all of his groceries, Rodriguez had to put the bags down and catch his breath.

“At that point I was like, “Whoa,”” he said. “I used to be able to do four quarters of football, and now I can’t even walk up the stairs. That was a big issue for me.”

After that, he quit the party scene and set up a gym in his apartment.

He met Sabino at The Fitness Loft of Manhasset, and the two decided to start their own gym in Manhasset, which they said is a close-knit, athletic community.  

“Full body, mind and soul,” Sabino said. “That’s what it’s about."