The first thing one might notice about Matt Bergen is that he appears to be younger than that he actually is. But don’t let his looks fool you, this 21 year old business owner of B.E. FiT Personal Training Studio in Agawam, MA is much more mature than his years would suggest.
As part of my series on interesting people and their stories, I sat down with Matt to learn more about his studio, how he acquired it, and what had led him to pursue this direction for his future.
B.E. FiT is located at the intersection of North Westfield Street and North Street in Agawam. The outside of the studio features nine large rectangular windows, and a tall sloping roof. Upon walking into the space, I was struck by the sheer amount of light and brightness from those windows as well as the open floor plan and the various workout equipment that lined the room.
The walls had been painted a cheerful blue color, and motivational posters and artwork added character to them. Phrases such as, “The difference between the impossible and the possible is in a person’s determination” lined the room. Instead of being a simple two story set up, the second floor had been drawn in toward the back of the studio to become a balcony overlooking the area, with a staircase leading up.
Matt teaches a variety of classes at B.E. FiT, including Cardio Kickboxing, Survival Fit, Fit for Her, Teen Fit, and he even trains MMA fighters and motocross teams. He believes in doing things as unconventionally as possible because eventually something will click. Keeping this in mind, he decided in order to make it more affordable for people to be able to use his services and help more people at the same time, he would conduct personal training in group sessions.
Instead of paying for each hour of his time individually, as most personal trainers charge, members of the studio are given the option to purchase a membership including a certain number of days or classes.
Matt expressed to me that his clients really respond to the group atmosphere and that it also works well with his goal of being a holistic health coach. By being coached together in groups there’s a feeling of being on a team, and working toward the same goals. Matt considers training to be all encompassing. That is, his clients come to him not just for physical improvement, but also for mental and emotional working out.
Speaking with Matt, it is hard for me to believe that he is so young and has already achieved so much. I asked him to tell me more about his life story and what had brought him to be where he is today.
The story begins eleven years ago, when Matt was hit by a car at the age of ten, while attending the annual Granville Harvest Fair. As a result, he ended up with a variety of health problems, one of which was Nephrotic Syndrome, an autoimmune disease in which the kidneys are attacked by the body. Matt was on and off Prednisone for years afterward, and dealt with depression from being different from others.
He admitted to me he got so emotionally and physically drained from these problems, having to manage them in a public school setting, that he tried to take his own life multiple times as a teenager. It was clearly difficult for him to talk about this matter, but we both agreed that it really drives home the point of why he opened the studio; to help others who may feel this way about themselves and their lives.
After a certain point, living with these ailments had worn down his will to live, his motivation, and ambition. But when Matt was 18 he made the decision to live without the medications and have a full, happy life.
He began to learn about health, nutrition, and physical fitness, attending Branford Hall Career Institute in Windsor, Connecticut for a year to obtain his certificate in Professional Fitness Training and went on to get certified through the National Academy of Sports Medicine. Matt is currently going to school for nutrition through the Institute of Integrative Nutrition so he may better help his clients.
Although he was discovering how to improve his mental and physical health, this future business owner found himself at 19/20 without any real idea of what he wanted to do with his life career-wise. So he began looking into being a trainer for other gyms and fitness centers.
When Matt began to rent space from other gyms, he found many flaws with the way scheduling was managed, and felt he wasn’t able to give his clients what he needed in that setup.
What enabled him to leave that line of work was a job he landed with a motocross team, training them for racing. He found with the team working together in a group with him as the guide, he was able to create the most favorable atmosphere for his clients.
They collectively paid for Matt’s time, which was advantageous to both parties. The personal training price became affordable, and Matt was able to make enough money to provide for himself with the earnings. He was also training other clients on the side, but he wanted to have the people come to him, not the other way around. Finally, a conversation with an encouraging mother of one his friends gave Matt the last push he needed to begin looking for a space for his own studio.
With financial support from his father, who is also a business owner, and the help of a good realtor Alex Kwatowski BKaye Realty properties were visited and considered over 20 in a 7 day span. Although many were seen, Matt had no problem making the decision. He knew the one he was going to pick as soon as he arrived at 360 North Westfield street in Feeding Hills.
Since I had worked directly with a marketing specialist for six years, I feel qualified to say that Matt has made some very smart choices so far with what he has done. Impressed, I asked what his next plans were for the studio and his business. Matt told me about the Grand Opening he has been organizing, set to happen on Friday, July 18th.
Working with an event planner, he is going to be having games, music, raffles, door prizes, and more from 4:30 – 8PM. Good food and live music will accompany class demonstrations, giveaways, and plenty of fun. Anyone is welcome to attend, and bring a friend, because Matt will have discounted cards to attend classes for those who come by and show support.
It’s hard to believe that Matt has come all this way and done so much in just a short amount of time. Growing up with serious injuries and taking strong medications over and over, I might say Matt had every right to be resentful and unhappy. Yet, at only 21 years of age, he is giving back to the community, trying to help others live healthier and longer, and not rely so much on medicating as they do on living a healthy lifestyle.
I encourage anyone who reads this to visit Matt for his open house, take advantage of that free class, and start learning how to better care for the mind and body. See you July 18th.