To stay fit, you can’t sit. This is the mantra that Daniel Berrios lives by, body and soul.
He doesn’t really have to worry, for as the owner and manager of Unlimited Body NY, he has a schedule that never lets him quit, much less sit.
Right now, he’s taking down the punching bags and the exercise barres to get the space ready for the too-early-morning tai chi class. He’s also running back and forth to the front desk to check students in.
This is only the beginning; later, he’ll be teaching classes and giving massages.
But it’s Sunday, a relative day of rest. If all goes as planned, he’ll be out of here by 3 instead of 10 p.m.
Daniel’s over-full life has been jam-packed since he opened the fitness studio toward the end of 2014.
It was the event that he spent most of his adult life preparing for.
Although Daniel’s from Bayside, he spent much of his childhood in Astoria, where he now lives and where he has cousins and other family.
Daniel, who is tall and strong and wears his shoulder-length black hair in a bun or ponytail, has always been athletic.
He grew up playing baseball and soccer and was on his high school football team.
“I used to do weight training and workouts at home,” he says. “I used a chair and encyclopedias as a bench press.”
It was while he was earning a degree at LaGuardia Community College that he saw an ad for a personal trainer that changed the course of his life.
“It said that you could make money while working out,” he says. “I wasn’t a personal trainer – yet – but I ended up working at that gym in sales.”
It was hate at first sit.
“It was a desk job,” Daniel says. “And I didn’t like trying to make people buy memberships. After about four months, I told my boss that I had no heart for it any more and said I was going to quit.”
Instead, he finished his personal training certification and continued to work with private clients there.
“After five years, it got to the point that it was all about hitting quotas and making money,” he says.
Just as Daniel was running out of steam, he started studying massage therapy at Queensborough Community College.
He worked for a couple gyms and a massage clinic before deciding to strike out on his own.
“I was really hustling for clients,” he says. “At one point, I owned a van and did house calls for personal training and massage therapy.”
In 2012, he started working for Seek Fitness on 23rd Avenue in Astoria, and when that business closed, Daniel took over the space and transformed it into Unlimited Body NY, renovating it with the help of his father, Danny.
“We’re all about restoring posture and getting the body to move again in a sitting society,” says Daniel, adding in addition to pain management/rehab, the center offers classes ranging from kickboxing and strength training to Zumba and yoga. “It’s not about vanity; it’s about the journey, about getting a better quality of life.”
Daniel isn’t the only one who’s at Unlimited Body NY virtually all the time: Leo, his 2-year-old snow-white pitbull mix, greets every client with a tail wag and a toothy grin, and Daniel’s 3-year-old daughter, Savannah Rose, is a fixture.
Daniel, who is about to turn 39, doesn’t know how long he will be able to keep up this nearly 24/7 pace. He dreams of getting a bigger space and opening additional centers.
“I’ve started to feel overwhelmed,” he says. “I don’t have time for family or friends or even to watch TV.”
He has considered other options, such as going into the field of home renovations.
“But I don’t want to quit,” he says as Leo follows him to the front desk. “I love being here and doing what I’m doing.”
Astoria Characters Day: The 10th Anniversary is Sept. 15, 2019.
Sponsored by Bareburger, it’s a free, public event.
Copyright 2019 by Nancy A. Ruhling