Rye Health & Fitness Makes it to the Big Ten
By Robin Jovanovich and Tom McDermott
Dennis Briscoe played both basketball and baseball in high school and was always a gym rat, but long before deciding to start a fitness and training center in Rye, he had a successful career as a financial advisor at Citigroup. And then 2008 happened and he decided it was time to test his strengths in a different venture.
“I bartended at night in order to save enough money to launch Rye Health & Fitness,” he said in a recent interview at his pristine 14 Elm Place gym.
Fast forward ten years and step into a vibrant workout center which is open weekdays from 4:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays. Briscoe and eight other trainers work with some 200 clients, 60 percent of them women who are mostly in shape and want to stay that way, plus a few weekend warriors. The average client comes twice a week, although they have number who can only come on weekends. Sessions are 60 minutes in length. Rye Health doesn’t offer group sessions, but they’re happy to offer semi-private lessons, which are usually arranged by an existing client and friend.
“Our training is based around functional activities — pushing, pulling, squatting,” explained Briscoe. Training is the same for men and women, according to physical capabilities. “For clients coming back after pregnancy, illness, orthopedic surgery, including knee and hip replacements. We start with mobility and flexibility and move into strength.” He added, “We make sure we correct injuries, doing much of what a physical therapist does.”
Briscoe had back surgery when he was 19 and couldn’t play sports for a year, so he knows what it takes to bring an athlete back into shape. He also knows how to make fitness fun; he works out with his children, who are 6 and 4, at home in Scarsdale. And he tries to get home early, because his wife is a school teacher and a realtor, so they juggle schedules.
When a new client walks in and asks for a tailored program to help them lose weight, Briscoe or any of the other trainers gets to work. “We’re conservative with all new clients. We ask them to fill out a questionnaire, measure their body mass index — a high index can be an indicator of high body fatness — and help them come up with a nutrition program.”
In his ten years operating out of 14 Elm Place across the parking lot from Crisfield’s Market, Briscoe has expanded twice and done a sizable renovation in order to meet client and trainer needs. “Our landlords have been great during each one of those projects.”
Earlier this year, Briscoe and partners opened Trinity Fitness & Nutrition on Purchase Street. Both centers get foot traffic, but at Trinity you’re more likely to see high school athletes who want and need extra conditioning.