A Heart To Serve

Zone Health & Fitness opens a second location for its growing fitness family. 

A Heart To Serve

Zone Health & Fitness opens a second location for its growing fitness family.

For Ben Marciano and the Zone Family, Zone Health & Fitness is about changing people’s lives. Ben has been in the fitness industry for 20 years, working as a consultant to boost gym memberships for 10 years before becoming the YMCA’s membership director in 2005. He worked his way up to vice president during his 10-year stint there.

“My dream was always to open my own gym,” he says.

From his many years of experience, he’s seen different exercise and diet regimens implemented at gyms to help members achieve results. He has also witnessed how building relationships with members has had a positive impact. He wanted to create a place where people feel like they’re part of a family.

When members walk into Zone Health & Fitness, they’re greeted by friendly staff right away. Zone staff connect and build relationships with members, creating a welcoming environment from the start. The passion to turn fitness into family at Zone comes from a desire to serve others.

“Our heart has to be about serving people,” Ben says. “We definitely designed the facility with everyone in mind.”

This is where the concept of zones comes in. Because gyms can seem intimidating and confusing to many people, Ben wanted to make sure there was something for everyone. Zone offers 16 zones to suit different goals and needs.

“Our mission is to shape lives and strengthen communities, because, when one is well, our world grows stronger,” Ben says.

A Growing Family

Ben’s approach to fitness has created a place that motivates, encourages and welcomes each member. As a result, the Zone family has continued to grow over the years, and once membership reached 5,000 members, expansion was necessary.

“We saw tremendous growth,” Ben says.

At an annual meeting, a visiting consultant asked the Zone staff what they wanted for the gym. They all wanted to franchise it, catching Ben by surprise. He gave his staff a goal to reach 5,000 members. When they reached that number, they would expand.

“It only took 6 months for my staff to achieve this goal,” Ben says. “I knew there was a number we needed to be at.”

The second location is located in Market Street at Heath Brook on Highway 200. It wasn’t hard to pick the location, and Ben feels they have been welcomed and cared for there.

“We knew we wanted to be on that side of town,” Ben says. “That’s where the growth is.”

This second location offers most of the same zones with the addition of XGT—a program that incorporates weight training and natural body movements with a nutrition plan.

“XGT is about being a better you. More than you thought you could be. Functionally fit to take on whatever challenge is waiting for you when you walk out of the box,” according to Zone’s marketing department.

This new location will take a more boutique-style approach to fitness.

“It’s a smaller facility with a more personal touch. It has a classy, very welcoming feel, and it’s on the second floor overlooking beautiful scenery,” Ben says.

Just as Ben’s wife, Danielle, created his vision with the beautiful design of Zone East, she has also worked to design Zone West. Zone East showcases Star Trac equipment, and Zone West will showcase Nautilus equipment—Star Trac’s newest equipment on the market. Members of Zone will enjoy membership at both locations, as well.

Ben is grateful to this community for welcoming Zone, and his team gives back each year to support different needs.

“This community has embraced Zone and embraced us. We’re so thankful for the support we’ve received. Ocala is like a big family,” Ben says. “The more success we have, the more we can help the community.”

Next year, Zone plans to give its support to underprivileged children and the homeless within our community.

Changing Lives Through Fitness

In September 2014, Zone Health & Fitness opened its doors where Compass Health & Fitness had been previously. Ben and his wife worked on a business plan for one year, creating a vision and visiting gyms all over the country. Ben hadn’t been able to imagine leaving the YMCA, but one interaction had changed the course of his career.

Ben ran into Tom Ingram, senior vice president/community president of CenterState Bank, while at Eaton’s Beach one evening. Tom mentioned that if Ben ever opened his own gym, he would love to invest in it. Ben started thinking about it again. He talked it over with his wife, and he even dreamed about it that night.

Then, it was just a matter of time and prayer before everything seemed to fall into place. He knew the owner of Brick City Fitness, which came after Compass. The owner happened to be looking for someone to take over the space, and Ben felt it was exactly what he was supposed to do. Things started lining up, but there were still many challenges ahead.

“It’s been the hardest gym to run but the most rewarding,” he says. “When you are responsible for everyone else, there’s pressure.”

Eight months in, Ben felt he was scraping the bottom of his savings. He didn’t know if they could make the necessary culture shift at Zone. He wanted it to have the welcoming, family atmosphere that it clearly has now, but it took a lot of work.

Now, Zone’s many different zones serve more than 5,400 members, depending on their preferences and goals. The Express Zone allows members to work out in a separate section with a trainer coaching them through each machine. Additionally, Zone has personal trainers, a spin room, a full schedule of group exercise classes, childcare for children from 8 weeks old to 12 years old, free weights, state-of-the-art Star Trac equipment and Ignite—a workout that uses heart rate monitors to train at your target heart rate. Zone’s popular boxing classes are also heart-rate based. At the front of Zone East, a Fit 3-D Scanner enables members to get a full body scan, complete with measurements, which they can use to see progress when compared to future scans. It also happens to be the only one in town.

The Zone team stays up on what’s new in the fitness world, incorporating new group classes, workouts and café offerings. Even the Blast Zone, the childcare area, takes things up a notch by providing crafts and learning opportunities to a wide range of ages.

All of the hard work continues to pay off. Ben loves getting feedback from members, and he most commonly hears that members feel like they’re part of a family. His secret?

“I think it’s the staff and the hearts they have, along with the vision we have,” Ben says.

Member Janulee Shirvis couldn’t agree more and has this to say about her experience: “The secret will be out now! There is no way you can walk into this special fitness center, Zone, without feeling accepted for who you are—no matter your size, shape, color, gender or age. The ‘welcome’ committee here is awesome, you feel like family. Sometimes you may even get a big hug (I like that part)! The staff at Zone has the most caring, loving people I have ever seen in a professional environment. The positive encouragement given by all leaves you feeling so, so much better than when you walked in!”

Learn more about Zone Health & Fitness by visiting zonehealthandfitness.com or contacting either location below.

Zone Health & Fitness (West)  › 4414 SW College Road, Suite 1012  › (352) 414-4433

Zone Health & Fitness (East)  › 524 S Pine Avenue  › (352) 509-3133

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