We have to go back in time. I graduated from the College of the Holy Cross back in 1998 with a degree in pre-med. I came to Boston to work in hospitals and research while I was studying and preparing to take my MCAT for medical school. During that time, I wasn’t making a lot money, so I moonlighted after my 9-5 as a personal trainer. Once I started working in the hospitals and seeing the lifestyle of the healthcare professionals and patients coming in and out of the hospitals, I realized that healthcare in a hospital setting was not what I wanted to pursue as a career.
I saw more value in looking through a lens where it’s better to prevent people from getting sick, like strengthening their bodies and boosting their immune systems. Between healthcare and fitness, the common denominator was helping people with their health. One was more preventative, and one was more acute. That’s when I decided to make a career shift.
So, as a personal trainer, I was working 60-70 hours a week. I realized my limiting factor was scale because there wasn’t enough time. I decided that I should hire some trainers, form a team, and coach them in terms of my philosophy and approach. Fast forward to 2015, it was time to open up my own facility. I designed my own space, Clientel3, in the Back Bay in 2016. We gutted it, rebuilt it, hand-selected all the equipment, and built it into what it is today.
I’m highly focused on the luxury high-end market, and that’s all I’ve been working in my entire career. I slowly made a name for myself because I concentrated on quality rather than the next big thing. That’s when I got a call from the Winthrop team.
My vision for FLX has always been my vision for fitness in general. I’m not really the one to follow trends—I want to be a leader in the fitness industry. People want to see what I’m doing. My clients will see things getting popular and know that I’ve been doing it for years as others are just catching on.
But I like to study how the industry is moving and progressing as a whole, not just in Boston but across the globe. Sometimes, I incorporate more ancient approaches and modalities to fitness and training that have been proven for centuries. Why would we change that up when those techniques actually work and help our clients? A lot of times, it’s not actually the most innovative thing. Sometimes we have to go backward to go forward.
So, in my experience at Millennium Tower, there are two types of people who use the facilities. Some people just want to come work out and not be bothered. Others want to be engaged, take group classes, work with a trainer—they like the social aspect of it. The two separate spaces support self-guided exercise and group exercise, and each created space has the potential for more than one functionality. And it’s not only versatility that we’re thinking about. It’s also the flow, how we lay the equipment out, what we are trying to highlight, what we want the footprint to be.
The self-guided area features hand-selected equipment and cardiovascular equipment, but we also have two additional rooms for group exercise and other functions. In one studio, it will have wood flooring with mirrors and a ballet bar for more traditional group exercise classes. In the other studio, it’s all matted with 1 “inch thick tatami mats, which is used for Brazilian Ju jitsu. It’s a no-shoe area, where we’ll host workshops for residents to do meditation, yoga, martial arts, Ju jitsu, all without a mat.
Both studios will be sound-proofed, so music in the studio won’t disrupt the space outside of the room. Additionally, for the residents, there’ll be a kids’ room, for children to go in with a parent or caretaker while parents are working out. There’ll also be a human performance lab in the space as well.
There’ll also be a junior Olympic sized pool for residents, where Youth Aquatics will run private swim lessons and anything in the aquatic’s realm.
That’s a work-in-progress, but I can talk about the intention behind it. Right now, it’ll have a body fat analyzer. When it comes to getting results for a client, I don’t like to play guessing games; I like data. The data is going to tell us when something is working or not working. If it’s not working, it’s time to pivot and change.
We’ll look at body composition tests, recovery, massage, and physical therapy.
I also have a network of fitness professionals that I work with – they call themselves biohackers and they’re looking for the most efficient way to optimize your body’s performance. That’s what these labs are for. What devices, equipment, techniques that we can use to optimize our client’s health.
In the Collective, the office facility, the cardio space will be a bit bigger with an additional human performance lab and massage. Office tenants and residents will also have the ability to take lessons with a PGA pro in our golf simulator room.
We’ve installed a Kilter board, which is a rock-climbing wall that’s modular. You can adjust the pitch of that wall from straight vertical to angled where the top leans toward you, making it more difficult. All the climbing mounts are backlit so you can change the route for the climbers through an app.
There’s nothing else like this in Boston. My goal is to think about how to bring pieces of equipment that are cutting edge. We don’t want people to have to go elsewhere for fitness and wellness services. People who are avid rock climbers will think this gym is great. But you can also do Pilates, yoga, regular cardio—it’s like an ecosystem within itself – a self-sustained community.
The thing that’s most special about the Winthrop Center facilities is that we are creating something with a very strong holistic approach. All of the services support each other, and by doing that, we’re supporting the residents and tenants in their health and wellness. We’re going to treat their bodies with nutrition, cognitive clarity, mobility, flexibility, strength, and cardiovascular work. We’re just scratching the surface, and it’s going to keep evolving. This building is going to be far ahead of the curve in so many different ways and the tenants, and clients will be in good hands. Everyone’s going to be looking at Winthrop Center thinking, “We should do that.” We’re resetting the bar and standards for the fitness industry, not just in Boston or the US but across the globe.
-CHI BANG, Wellness director
240 Devonshire Street
Boston, MA 02110
240 Devonshire Street
Boston, MA 02110