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Gym for ‘people who’ve tried everything’ opens in Auburn

Gym for 'people who've tried everything' opens in Auburn
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Summarizing Achilles Heel Training is harder for its owners than most feats of strength.

The gym, which is opening its third location on Seminary Street in Auburn, isn’t a CrossFit cult or an iron paradise. It doesn’t promise you’ll burn or build a far-fetched number of pounds.

What Achilles Heel Training is, CEO and President Kevin Valente said, is whatever its clients need it to be.

“Our main demographic is people who’ve tried everything,” he told The Citizen. “People who don’t want to think, just come in and as long as they listen, they achieve their results slow and steady.”

The gym meets those needs through two membership types: pillar programs and group exercise.

Pillar programs are “our way of making personal training affordable,” Valente said. Every class has two coaches guiding clients through hour-long workouts tailored to them. In August, for example, clients at Achilles Heel’s locations in Camillus and Marcellus were coached to execute one strict pull-up. On Oct. 1, the day of the Auburn location’s grand opening, a strength cycle will start.

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“They’re very much tailored the way we would with athletes,” Valente said. “We might level down for Suzy who’s 65, or up for Billy who’s a freak of nature teen CrossFit athlete.”

Group exercise is also coached, but “all over the board,” Valente continued. Themes include “Butts and Guts,” “Arms and Abs” and more. Like the pillar programs, membership is managed through an app, MindBody, and can be purchased weekly or monthly. The app also has class schedules, and through it clients can book time in a recovery VIP room with recliners, massage guns and more.

The rest of the 5,000-square-foot gym, formerly a Save-A-Lot, is an austere grid of free weights, resistance bands, gymnastic rings and more. All are red and black, in keeping with Achilles Heel’s color scheme. Valente and Brittany Rabuano, the gym’s vice president and chief executive officer, opened its first location in Camillus, where they live, in January 2019. The Marcellus one followed in 2020.

The idea for the third location came to Rabuano, an Auburn native, while driving by the former grocery store. She and Valente worked as trainers in the city years ago, so they saw an opportunity.

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“We had a huge clientele base here,” Valente said. “We’ve had people reaching out to us over the last year and a half.”

Owned and renovated by Washington Street Partners, the space was a workout to set up, he said. Its soft opening was Sept. 15. Saturday’s grand opening will feature a ribbon-cutting and food trucks.

For Valente, who’s originally from Italy, the third location of Achilles Heel continues a journey that started when he moved to the US when he was 12. Injuries he sustained by training incorrectly during his athletic career made him want to learn how to teach people the correct way, he said. Now, he wants to teach them to “move through space in a way that kind of breaks the mold.”

“Seeing someone do something they thought they wouldn’t be able to do, that lightbulb moment, is what does it for me,” he said. “It literally never gets old.”

Rabuano, who played lacrosse in Auburn, said her fitness journey has also been motivated by personal experience. She wishes she knew then what she knows about nutrition and exercise now, she said.

“My goal is to help women and anyone else looking to better themselves and their overall health,” she said, “and help them know the ‘why’ behind it.”

Lake Life Editor David Wilcox can be reached at (315) 282-2245 or david.wilcox@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @drwilcox.

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