Subject: Steven Oberfest Location: New York, New York Company: Underdog Fitness Experience: Fifteenth year as trainer; second year as owner
Maverick Strategy: Last year I started volunteering my time to the Burden Center for the Aging in Manhattan. Now I am working with many other groups including Beth Israel Hospital, Ronald McDonald Charities, Neighbor- hood Coalition for the Homeless, a mentor program for children, and the list keeps growing.
Currently, I have six other trainers working with me, and I am continuing to put up flyers at gyms and speak to professional associations to recruit more trainers willing to volunteer their time and expertise to these various special populations.
Training Services: I train clients through my business in the mornings and evenings, then devote my after- noons to volunteer training. When an organization expresses interest in adding a fitness component to its ser- vices, I meet with the group to assess its needs and population. However, I cannot always immediately begin working with groups if I don’t have enough other volunteers. Once another trainer or I can commit the time, we will work with that group once or twice a week.
Financials: I would like to turn this volunteer work into my full-time job. I am trying to set up a nonprofit orga- nization and obtain a corporate spon- sor to defray costs. At this time I do not receive reimbursement for any out-of-pocket expenses I may have from working with these groups. I consider my contributions long-termapproaches to the community’s over- all health and my future business opportunities.
Program Structure: Each group I work with has different needs. With the elderly, for example, we work on functional fitness: flexibility, hand-eye coordination, balance and so forth. It’s a lot of fun to get a group of 80- year-olds throwing tennis balls to each other and playing hopscotch. Not only are they having fun, they are doing a lot to maintain their health. At the other end of the age spectrum, I am working with children trying to turn them on to careers in fitness.
Anecdote: My motto when training these groups is: “Do what you want to do and leave when you want to.” So when I had a group of elderly play hopscotch, I expected a man with a walker to decline to participate. I was wrong. When it was his turn, he played hopscotch—walker and all.