WESTERLY — After working in the fitness world for nearly 10 years and talking to many women who said they were too intimidated to even walk into a traditional fitness center or gym, Matt Chilleri and Aaron Meredith realized there was something lacking in the industry: a women’s-only gym.
Last spring, the pair decided to remedy this situation and opened an all-female fitness center called Leanify Method Fitness in downtown Westerly that prides itself on being welcoming and offering support tailored to their female clientele.
Chilleri said Leanify Method Fitness is already near-capacity with 120 members, which confirms for the business partners that there is a need for all-female fitness centers. The core of the gym is focused on their fitness methodology called “Technologically Optimized Fat Loss,” which uses technology to track and measure key inputs in each member's personalized fat loss plan and includes workouts and a customized nutrition program.
Although the program centers on exercise and staying active through the numerous classes and training sessions offered each week, Chilleri said they also focus a lot on nutrition, sleep quality, healthy living and mindset.
“A lot of what we do is geared toward making women feel better about themselves while also improving their body composition and really becoming a better, more powerful and stronger version of themselves,” Chilleri said. “We believe that fitness and having a healthy lifestyle is the foundation of becoming the best version of ourselves because being dedicated to consistent exercise and healthy eating improves all aspects of our members’ lives.”
Because everything is class-based, there’s a lot of support both between members and between Chilleri, Meredith and the members. The women are all a part of a members-only Facebook group where they offer encouragement, recipes and general support for each other.
“The amount of support these ladies offer one another is truly unlike anything I’ve ever seen,” Chilleri said. “It’s really cool because all of these women — of all ages, body compositions and physical abilities — have a common goal of becoming better versions of themselves and they’re all experiencing this journey together.”
Although they do utilize equipment such as kettlebells, dumbbells, battling ropes and medicine balls, each participant’s body is the primary piece of equipment used in their workouts.
Carissa Albergaria Colon, of Charlestown, said she'd gone to other gyms before but had never experienced the support and accountability she needed to make real changes in her life until she started going to Leanify. She's been a member for three months and has seen drastic changes in her mental and physical health.
“I have lost several inches and pant sizes and I have gained fitness, confidence; I feel healthier and I am stronger and empowered. It’s amazing,” she said. “Matt and Aaron have created this amazing environment for women to come together and feel empowered and strong, both mentally and physically.”
Shaina McGinty, a Westerly resident, has a similar story. She called Leanify when she had lost all self-confidence because of her weight and was desperate to make a change.
“I had tried quick-fix diets, Weight Watchers, you name it, but nothing stuck. After my first class at Leanify I was hooked,” she said. “I never worked out a day in my life and now I’ve been going five or six days a week for the last 6 months. With their coaching, I now eat better, am more active and have more self-confidence. But the best part is the community of strong, dedicated women who have experienced the same struggles as me.”
Chilleri said one of the two partners meets with each potential client to make sure that Leanify can provide what they are looking for and that they are committed to making a change in their life.
“We don’t sell magic shakes they drink every day, we’re just not that kind of place,” he said. “They have to work to achieve their goals and we only want to work with people who are serious and committed to working hard to meet those goals.”
Aside from the classes and support that can be found at Leanify, members also have the chance to participate in social events. One night, the partners had a “members night out” and took everyone to Perks and Corks. Just before Thanksgiving, they hosted a Friendsgiving potluck at the gym.
Although Chilleri, who lives in New London, and Meredith, who lives in Warwick, aren’t planning to add another location in Westerly, the two said there’s definitely a possibility of growth at some point.
“We’re really lucky we found a great spot in Westerly, where the overall demographics really cater to a fitness center like this,” he said. “We thought it would be a great market to test out this concept, and so far it’s been absolutely awesome.”