Rich Decker has been a familiar sight around the East End for decades as an entrepreneur in the field of personal fitness, first as the owner of the American Fitness Factory, which had three locations and was the first gym in the area, and later as the owner of Studio 89 in Sag Harbor.
Now he is hoping his dark gray, Dodge Ram pickup trucks, bristling with an array of workout gear and the name of his new venture, AWATfit.com, emblazoned on the side in bright yellow letters, become a common sight not only on the East End, but across the country as well.
That’s because Mr. Decker is selling franchises to his latest fitness idea: a mobile gym — AWAT stands for All Weather, All Terrain — that comes to your driveway or a nearby park.
The trucks have 20 workout stations, from pull-up bars to bungee cords, that allow clients to use their own body weight as resistance as they address strength, flexibility, agility, core, and cardiovascular needs, Mr. Decker said.
Plus, he said, people prefer to work out outdoors, especially when the weather is good, because it helps raise their spirits.
With the pandemic forcing brick-and-mortar gyms to close their doors and many people working from home for the duration, AWAT has found its niche, catering to people who have grown a little stir-crazy and have a strong desire to get in shape, Mr. Decker said.
“We come to you,” he said, adding that social distancing guidelines are strictly enforced during classes. “Plus, we’ve eliminated the need for a building, reducing a significant overhead.”
Mr. Decker said he has worked out arrangements to offer his classes at Sag Harbor’s Mashashimuet Park, where his truck can be seen in a shady section just off the Bridgehampton Turnpike most days, and a number of other parks in both East Hampton and Southampton towns. Classes cost as much as $40 for a drop-in class, with the rate dropping as low as $20 with the purchase of a 40-pack.
Interest in franchises, which cost $100,000 and include a fully outfitted truck costing $65,000 are beginning to take off, Mr. Decker said, with sales closed or in the works for Port Jefferson and locations in Texas, Michigan, California, Canada, and even New Zealand, Mr. Decker said.
He added that companies that analyze the prospects for franchises tell him his prospects are good and that a venture capital firm has provided seed money to help get the idea off the ground.
Mr. Decker insists there is room to grow the business, even locally. While he has two trucks on the road here, he said the East End could easily handle another 10. “If 15 or 20 people want a private class at the same time, I can’t cover it alone,” he said.
As he watches his business take off, Mr. Decker said he decided to give back to the community that is supporting his business. Over the next 60 days, he plans to donate 25 percent of class fees until he raises $25,000 to help Mashashimuet Park pay for the renovation of its playground. The park is a private entity that depends on donations and revenue earned for the use of its facilities by outside organizations to pay for maintenance and new projects.
“Giving back to my community is incredibly important to me,” Mr. Decker said. “And not only will this donation help improve the park for the children of the community, it will also help to promote new business ventures to those who attend the classes. AWATfit is an incredibly attractive prospect for someone in the fitness industry who wants to own their own business, and I’m hopeful that this fundraiser might be the best way to reach those who might not yet know their potential.”
Mr. Decker also volunteers to shuttle food prepared by Provisions for the Bridgehampton food pantry at the Bridgehampton Childcare and Recreational Center and said he plans to launch a second fundraising effort for the childcare center once he meets his commitment to the park.