The first 12 people to take a class at the Military Style Training Academy of New York were skeptical, said Brian Gomez, one of the gym’s founders.
The academy first operated in a basement in Hempstead, to which that first group came after their Zumba class in the studio upstairs, Gomez said.
But since the gym’s opening in March 2015, more than 1,000 people have taken boot camp-style exercise classes led by Gomez and Tony Hernandez, both U.S. Marines, rather than work out at traditional gyms, Gomez said.
“People just enjoy the fact that they can struggle or they can push themselves and nobody’s going to ridicule them,” said Gomez, an active-duty Marine Corps recruiter from the Bronx who now lives in Mineola. “… They realize that we’re all here for one goal, and that’s to better ourselves physically, mentally and also emotionally.”
The pair moved the academy from Hempstead to Mineola, where they opened a new 6,500-square-foot studio at 90 Herricks Road about three months ago. They held a grand opening event last Thursday.
The studio was designed by Irving Hernandez, whom Gomez and Tony Hernandez previously trained, Gomez said. Irving Hernandez also designed the basement studio in Hempstead.
Gomez and Hernandez, a Massapequa resident who is a retired Marine, teach about five classes on weekdays and six on Saturday and Sunday, Gomez said. They also offer classes for children three days a week.
Both certified personal trainers, they start the hourlong classes with a warm-up routine and then launch into a series of military-style exercises that change each time to keep students on their toes, Gomez said.
The pair conduct classes like drill sergeants, leading participants in cadences and chants as they go through the workout, Gomez said.
“We’re not pretending,” Gomez said. “We’re actually trying to give you something that is authentic and is real, and we are very passionate about what we do.”
The gym currently has about 175 active clients of all ages from myriad backgrounds, Gomez said. Some come to lose weight, while others are interested in eventually joining the military, he said.
No matter why they come, Gomez said he and Hernandez aim to instill a military mindset of teamwork and determination in each person.
Longtime students have become “squad leaders” who motivate newcomers during the classes, Gomez said, and students often form friendships with each other.
That camaraderie is also inspired by the founders’ military experience, creating an environment that many find friendlier than typical gyms, Gomez said.
“Everybody kind of gets together and pushes hard because they realize that we’re not here to make you feel [bad] in any way,” he said. “We’re here to push you and get you out of that mental mindset you’ve been in for a while.”