Getting in shape may be the most popular New Year's resolution, but at in Amagansett, Romaine Gordon has added a new twist: making a difference in our community.
"I never set out to have it be the way it is," said Gordon, speaking of her studio's community involvement. "I know as a kid I always wanted to be a social worker. I'm always trying to help someone. As I look back, that's probably how some of these benefits came around. I just enjoy doing it. It's great to be a part of it."
Gordon, who grew up on Nantucket before moving to California, the Caribbean and, later, East Hampton, combined her love of fitness with her desire to make a difference, and founded B East.
"It stands for whatever you want it to stand for," she said, explaining the studio's name. "It can be just to be out east from the city. It can be bike east, beach east, body east. For a lot of people, it can be beast, like we have a class we call Beast Challenge."
Since opening its doors in June 2009, B East and members of our community facing hard times, including The Wounded Warrior Project, The Hereditary Neuropathy Foundation, to fight pediatric cancer, The Ellen Hermanson Foundation to fight breast cancer, The Children's Museum of the East End, trainer Jim MacWhinnie after his accident, and single mother of three who has been batting cancer. Nearly alone after the fundraiser earlier this fall.
In the coming year, Gordon plans to become involved in Fighting Chance, an organization that provides free counseling and aid to cancer patients on the East End.
"I really think that's part of what the studio does," Gordon said. "I think it is part of what's appealing to people about this place. It's not just walk in, hand over money, exercise and get out. You feel like you are a part of something."
Gordon speaks passionately about each cause she has championed and each benefit stems from personal connections.
"I was getting coffee," she said, explaining her association with Hereditary Neuropathy and its founder Allison Moore, "and she stopped me on the street and said 'I heard there's a new spin studio someplace,' and I said, 'Well, actually, it's mine. Come on in.'"
The fundraiser is now an annual event.
"Last summer, on July Fourth Weekend, I was over in the square and Dave Plotkin -- he and his dad founded this whole foundation because of his son Max who had cancer," Gordon said, explaining her involvement in The Max Cure Fund in which 50 bikes were moved to Amagansett Square, obstacle courses were set up for kids, a DJ played music, and there was face painting and free ice cream.
Gordon also offers free classes, open to the community, to raise food for local pantries and she donates studio time and resources to schools. In January, B East is doing a ride to benefit the softball team. For the past two years, the studio has provided space to , a fitness and wellness program for girls.
"When I first started planning i-tri," said Theresa Roden, i-tri Founder and Executive Director, "Romaine was the first fitness professional I spoke to. I told her my idea of getting nonathletic girls excited about fitness and training them to do a triathlon -- she got it! The very first after school fitness experience for the i-tri girls each year is B East."
Gordon is equally passionate about the resources and workouts she provides for her clients. B East consists of three exercise studios: one devoted to bikes, one for TRX or Total body Resistence Exercise, and one that alternates from a supervised children's play space to a workout studio depending on need. The studio also frequently hosts guests speakers.
In the bike room, Gordon climbs on and begins spinning. "When these bikes came around," she said, referring to the RealRyder bikes which tilt and turn much like an outdoor road bike, "I watched them just sort of change the industry. It was something that I really saw having a future."
"B East is an anchor business in the local community known for its commitment to supporting local charities and important causes. They truly walk the walk when it comes to giving back," said Jackie Mendes of RealRyder International.
"Romaine has done an incrediable job opening her doors to the community," said Charlotte Sasso, who trains at B East. "She provides such a great space and listens to people's feedback."
Gordon tapers her classes according to individual needs. "Everyone in their mind's eye is climbing up their hill. We have fit people training for things, and we have people looking to lose weight. I have men, I have women. I have larger people, I have tiny people. I have high school students and 73-year-old people. If we have 50 people in the room, we have 50 different workouts."
"Don't go from black to white," Gordon said, when asked to offer New Year's advice. "Go to the gray area, take your time. Don't set crazy goals that you aren't going to meet. Make it realistic."