When Jon Cerf talks about his company Core Progression, he emphasizes one takeaway: his personal training business is more than a personal training business.
The gym offers a wide variety of fitness and wellness-related services such as nutritional counseling and massage therapy. And that variety is reflected in the range of clientele the company attracts: new moms, retired grandparents and even the Denver Broncos Cheerleaders have trained at the gym.
“It’s a customized approach. We build a plan that fits you,” Cerf said. “It’s a different way of looking at fitness.”
Cerf launched the personal training company in 2008 and opened the gym’s first location, in Northglenn, in 2010. He’s since opened locations across the country, including one in Arvada, the town he grew up in. The gym is located at 5790 Yukon St.
Having originally envisioned himself attending medical school, Cerf’s job as a personal trainer inspired him to open a gym instead.
“I started realizing the impact of helping people move,” he said. “There’s very few professions where you feel like, `I’ve changed your life.’ You feel like you’re making a bigger impact on the world.”
One strategy Cerf has used to set his company apart has been to cap each gym’s membership at 200, he said.
Customers can consistently work with a personal trainer during their visit. This may be one-on-one, or customers can set up semi-private groups where three to five people complete different workouts under the instruction of one trainer.
The trainers are especially important in January, when many walk into the gym but don’t know where to begin, Cerf said.
“With the new year, fitness comes to the forefront of people’s minds. It’s important to start slow, build up to things and do your homework,” he said. “Even if you think this is going to be the decade of change, take it in bite-sized pieces.”
The price to use the gym varies, as each member pays a “100% custom cost” based on the length of their session, number of participants and other factors, Cerf said.
With 18 locations already established, he aims to open 15 more in 2020 for a total of 33 by the end of the year. His potential gym locations are in Longmont, Castle Rock and Cherry Creek.
A decade from now, he hopes to reach his ultimate goal of 500 locations, which he set when he opened his first gym at age 24.
“I always figured if you’re going to do something, go big,” he said.
Arvada resident Vince Vecchiarelli, whose daughter attended Faith Christian Academy with Cerf, has followed the entrepreneur’s journey for years through Facebook, he said.
“I was impressed with how well he’s done,” Vecchiarelli said — so impressed that he decided to become a member of the gym at the end of 2019.
At age 57, “I haven’t worked out in five years,” he said on his first day at Core Progression. He has no doubt the company can help him reach his own personal goals.
“I’ve got six grandkids who I want to take hunting and fishing,” he said. “I want to be in great shape.”
Vecchiarelli finds himself in the middle of the age range Core Progression has served; the youngest client was 7 years old and the oldest was 85, Cerf said.
Chief Operating Officer Jeff Lewis pointed to the variety of clients — not only in age, but in their goals and challenges to overcome — as one of his favorite aspects of the company.
His other favorite aspect: the fact that Core Progression has spread across the country.
“I love the fact that we can take this concept and help people all over the place,” he said.
Cerf agreed. Having started to franchise the company in 2018, he has fulfilled a new goal, as he is not only helping those who train at his gym but also those who own different locations, he said.
“We’re giving people the opportunity to create and creating opportunities for them financially,” he said. Most importantly, “we’re helping people change lives.”