CHUCK BAKER PHOTO | Peter Farrar, personal trainer/TRX instructor at Shelter Island Yoga and Fitness, works out on the new exercise system.
Moussa Drame opened an expanded and updated version of his Shelter Island Yoga and Fitness Center at the Dering Harbor Inn over Memorial Day weekend. A formal grand opening will be held Saturday, July 7, when the public is invited to view the made-over facility. A 10-percent discount will be offered on all memberships started that day.
Mr. Drame, came to New York City from Mali, Africa in 1992 to pursue a professional tennis career. But after multiple injuries, found himself coaching young athletes instead.
Eventually, he followed his clientele, expanding his business to Shelter Island in the summers to cater to the needs of his students who split their time between the city and East End.
Mr. Drame and his wife of six years, Bouchra, a Morocco native, and their two daughters — Bintu, 4, and Isha, 1 — have consequently found themselves doing the same. Mr. Drame comes to the Island on weekends in the spring, moving out full-time for the summer, with his family joining him on weekends.
Mr. Drame has been an entrepreneur on the Island for 13 years. He started by giving tennis lessons at the Pridwin. Several years ago, he began offering fitness classes including yoga and Pilates at the Dering Harbor Inn. This year, in addition to expanding that facility, Mr. Drame now runs the tennis programs in the Heights and at the school.
“I was providing yoga and Pilates classes on Shelter Island,” said Mr. Drame, “but from 8 to 11 a.m. you can only hold so many classes and then people want to go to the beach.” After dealing with that for the last four years, “I realized we needed to put a gym here.”
Receiving enthusiastic support for his idea from many residents, Mr. Drame went on to approach the inn’s management with a comprehensive business plan. Upon getting the go-ahead, he set in motion plans to revamp the small fitness center he had started into a larger, state of the art facility.
For the past six months, with the help of Islander Peter Mr. Farrar, a personal trainer and fitness instructor, Mr. Drame has been turning his idea into a reality. “People can also work on different parts of the body they aren’t using in tennis,” Mr. Drame noted. “Flexibility with yoga, something with weights, or something with Pilates, transitioning from just tennis to the fitness center combines in a very good package for the Island.”
The highlight of the facility is the new TRX workout system. Mr. Farrar, the resident TRX guru, will be offering TRX classes and personal training to guests and members. Only on the market for about four years, TRX is an innovative system that works the whole body. “The biggest idea in health and fitness in recent years is the emphasis on the core and core strength and the TRX system was really developed to address that,” said Mr. Farrar.
Mr. Farrar also stressed the flexibility of the system and its applicability to all levels of fitness and expertise. With this form of training, he explained, “the resistance is your body weight. So someone who is out of shape can come in and do the same workout as someone who is in shape; they would just use a different body angle, which would give them a less intense workout.”
In addition to the expanded, state-of-the-art weight room and new cardio machines, the Shelter Island Yoga and Fitness facility will continue to provide classes in Pilates and yoga, dance aerobics, spinning and Zumba and has added meditation, along with on-site professional, personal trainers.
Open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days a week, the facility offers daily, weekend, weekly, monthly and summer memberships; the aforementioned classes are offered at discounted rates to center members. The facility will also now have a juice bar that Mr. Drame hopes will provide a calming environment in which guests can relax and enjoy a healthy treat before, during or after their workout.
Mr. Drame is planning to offer activities for children while their parents are working out. Kids’ yoga classes, weekend tennis tournaments and boot camps are a few things the center will provide in the coming weeks.
After his experiences with yoga and Pilates classes, Mr. Drame said he understood the need for allowing schedule flexibility in order to keep his clients happy and coming back.
“We want the family environment,” he said. “Everybody can come and you don’t need a baby sitter … we are trying to get the whole family involved.”
Mr. Drame guaranteed that gym staff members are constantly monitoring visitors to assist with any workout questions or difficulties, in addition to maintaining a clean and safe environment.
“I want to make sure all the pieces fit together and all the equipment is here and satisfactory for people coming in,” said Mr. Drame. “We want to make sure they are safe and will go home very happy. My job is to guarantee a good time.”