Mahon About Town Press
Breaking Ground: Isaiah Truyman and EZIA Athletic Club
by Rebecca Nimerfroh
Friday, June 3, 2016
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The other day, I realized that I could list five places off the top of my head to get a báhn mi on Nantucket, a delicious Vietnamese steamed bun sandwich, and that each location was just a short bike ride away from my home. In my previous life as a Philadelphian, the task of finding one of these eastern delicacies would have surely resulted in an hour drive with nightmare parking to boot. And so it suddenly became clear to me then, in my hunger, that as Nantucketers, we benefit so greatly from the talented people all around us — these chefs, these artists, these creators and dreamers. Yes, we might be 30 miles out to sea, but this island has access to some of the finest things in all the world, a delicious báhn mi included. Luckily for us, many talented entrepreneurs flock here like migrating birds that never leave, and they do so because clearly, Nantucket is a place where you can come to do what you were born to do.
It only makes sense that genius has struck yet again on this island. A new club is being built that offers a cutting edge approach to fitness in a way that has yet to catch on in other places, but like most everything else, you’ll be thankful that we have it here.
Nantucket, meet EZIA Athletic Club.
I recently sat down with Isaiah (pronounced IS-AY-AH) Truyman in his home near Surfside Beach to talk about EZIA (also pronounced IS-AY-AH) Athletic Club, a project he’s been working tirelessly towards for the past two years — or some could argue, his entire life. Over a coconut flavored La Croix, he goes a mile a minute, exuding excitement and passion as he tells me the mission behind the club. “I can go on and on, but only about this!” he smiles.
“I know that it’s the soul of this place, the inner-working philosophy, program, service and people that will make this so different from anything before,” Isaiah says with steely, determined eyes. Having just recently broken ground at 88 Old South Road, it’s clear that this is an exciting time for him, and a crucial time for the entire project. Showing me renderings of the building and grounds, Isaiah explains the layout, noting two sizable pools (one for adults, the other for family), an outdoor athletic field, indoor squash courts, golf simulators and a state of the art spa.
From a focal standpoint, EZIA is not entirely unlike Nantucket club staples, The Westmoor or Great Harbor Yacht Club, with facilities meant to entice the seasonal Nantucket family. And, Isaiah explains, “there’s a great yacht club, great golf clubs, even tennis clubs here,” Isaiah says. “But none of them, at their core, really have fitness as their main focus. For us, that’s the primary thing.”
Isaiah explains that what makes EZIA special is the service it provides, a unique program that pairs multiple health specialists with one individual at a time. “What it comes down to is if you have a personal trainer and a physical therapist and a nutritionist, and they all work together as a team for you, that experience is synergistic,” Isaiah says. “You really multiply the sum efforts of all these people working together and it is incredibly unique.” The fact is, Isaiah explains this formula is proven to be successful, and he knows that because he’s seen the results first hand. You see, he’s done this before.
Born in Paris, France and raised by a single mom in Amherst, Massachusetts, Isaiah struggled in school with ADD and a mild case of Dyslexia. It was when he realized that he had to earn good grades in order to play sports that a change came over his entire life, one that still affects him to this day. “I realized that there is this motivating force in exercise, and that was able to influence the rest of my life in a really positive way. It made me a better person.”
When his passion and talent for Jazz Percussion led him to attend Berklee College of Music in Boston, Isaiah began personal training with clients at a local gym to pay his way through school. Through the years, after graduation and moving to New York City, Isaiah continued to train, this time at higher-end facilities, with very prominent and wealthy clients. One summer, a client approached him and asked if he had ever been to Nantucket.
“I said, ‘I don’t even know what it is.’ He said, ‘I’m going to give you a book of tickets and I want you to come out every weekend. I’ll give you a house, a car. Train me and my wife and my kid. I’ll pay you for the workouts and just do whatever you want the rest of the time.’ That was about 16 years ago.”
When I ask Isaiah for his first impression of Nantucket, he says with open eyes, “I was blown away.” In a house on Nomantum, Isaiah fell in love with the peacefulness of the island, and later, with a bikini-clad girl on Nobadeer beach. Her name was Gaelan, and on the very day he met her, Isaiah told her he was going to marry her.
One Nantucket client led to many more, with Isaiah traveling from Manhattan to Nantucket every summer, training the island’s most wealthy people. One notable client had a particularly expansive estate, equipped with a basketball court, pool, yoga room and spa, sometimes accompanied by as many as 50 guests. “But no one was coordinating,” Isaiah says. “So I hired a yoga instructor, and I hired a massage therapist, and I brought in a nutritional doctor to work with the chef. And I put together this comprehensive program for all these different members of his family and friends, and created a team that could really deliver what these individuals needed. And it just dawned on me that it was the quality of the programs and the ability to work as a team that was really the difference maker.”
Hence, the idea for EZIA was born, the model for a fitness club that focuses multiple health experts on a single individual.
With this idea in mind, and having grown tired of the freezing cold winters in New York City, Isaiah decided to relocate to San Diego, a place where the year-round weather resembles the gorgeous summer days of Nantucket, a city with fitness-focused businesses and an active lifestyle. “I always had the idea of creating my business from scratch and extending it back to Nantucket,” Isaiah says. Upon his decision to move, he asked Gaelan to come with him and she agreed, and it was in San Diego that they had a Nantucket-themed wedding in August of 2011.
In conjunction with a business partner, Isaiah soon launched the first EZIA Athletic Club in a small studio in Cardiff, with a focus on the integrated approach he had discovered and implemented on Nantucket. His client list gradually grew, and included sports teams and gold medal athletes. But despite the steady growth of the gym, Isaiah encountered challenges he did not expect. “There’s less of a focus on quality and service,” he says. “Southern California is not Nantucket. I wanted to grow and my business partner just wanted one facility.” In 2014, Isaiah sold his half of the business to his partner, and retaining the brand, the vision and customized software that pertains to his 360-degree fitness approach, headed back for Nantucket with Gaelan by his side, finally ready to launch his dream.
Two years have passed, and Isaiah has been one busy man, from raising funds to purchase the land, and obtaining permits to build, to working with architects, attracting staff and driving sales. “It’s been almost two years of training, just to get to the starting line,” Isaiah smiles, continuing, “I really wanted to make a masterpiece.”
Using land that was at one point optioned to be a housing development site much like Naushop, Isaiah is proud to report that with the help of Matthew MacEachern of Emeritus Development, the building is both architecturally pleasing as it is efficient and environmentally sustainable. Out of a total of 25,000 square feet, only 11,000 of that is above ground, minimizing the “McMansion” look a larger building might convey. “Matthew did a great job of making the building that is quite large look quite small,” Isaiah says. “It fits wonderfully into the Nantucket aesthetic, and that’s not easy.”
Isaiah explains that the ground floor is an open floor plan with a rustic, modern look (think Restoration Hardware, wood rope, exposed beams) that allows for the ease and flow of a typical day, perhaps beginning with a visit to see the physical therapist, then on to work out, and ending with a smoothie or cocktail from the cafe and a relaxing dip in the pool. Utilizing two floors beneath ground level, the layout calls for squash courts, locker rooms, day care and a teen center, among other amenities. But out of all of these features, Isaiah says he is most excited to see “members who have an exceptional experience, and the look on their faces. It’s having that environment that really brings me the most satisfaction.”
And it’s notable members like environmentalist and ardent supporter of the arts, John S. Johnson (son of island summer residents and also major supporters of the arts, Cecelia Joyce & Seward Johnson of the Johnson & Johnson Company family) who has already invested in this dream and can’t wait to see its fruition. “We chose to make the investment because health and fitness has become one of our family’s highest priorities,” Johnson says. “With how full life can get, there is so much that can distract me from that health commitment. EZIA seems pretty unique in the way it supports our fitness and health goals, and also supports the good habits that make negotiating a full life and achieving those goals possible.”
Adds Jay Harman, Cisco Brewers Chief Executive Officer who is also a founding member, “EZIA Athletic Club has a unique approach to performance training which focuses on optimizing health in a personal club environment. Isaiah’s ability to customize workouts and scheduling to meet my lifestyle and that of my family is a perfect fit.”
It’s worth noting that charter memberships are limited in availability at this point, and as construction continues on the property, the cost will continue to increase. In terms of price, a lifetime membership is currently offered at $90,000. Like similar clubs on Nantucket, members can opt to sell their memberships at any given time, optimally at an increased price. “So potentially you can make money on a club membership,” Isaiah says. Annual dues are $5,000 and there’s a minimum service fee of $1,000 that can be put towards dining, training, massage and lessons. At nearly a third of the price of other clubs, Isaiah says, “I think our model and our price point is an incredible value.”
As a nod toward giving back to the community, EZIA has plans to work closely with various non-profit organizations to provide athletic space for Nantucket’s at risk youth during the winter months.
However, throughout its development, EZIA has been no stranger to criticism, with one notable Boston Globe article slamming the facility, citing, “Finally, someone who cares about the one percent.” This gibe seemed to echo what some island residents considered as a new facility that focused only on the seasonal community. But Isaiah assures me that his goal for EZIA is to be a year-round facility, and to be a resource for the year-rounder just as much as the summer crowd, much like how The Westmoor is to locals in the winter months.
“I don’t fix my own car, I don’t paint my own house — I hire experts,” Isaiah says. “Our members shouldn’t expect to be experts in their own health and wellness, or delivering that to their family.” Isaiah continues by saying, “That’s what we are — we’re the team of experts that work together to deliver the results that people are asking for, whether it’s injury prevention, weight loss, sports performance or ability.”
But, I argue, don’t people come to Nantucket to relax and eat unhealthy things? Isaiah challenges this notion by saying that when you create healthy habits, it’s all about balance. And when you truly feel your best, the change is no longer at the surface, but at a cellular, hormonal level. “Everything in your body changes. The most powerful thing is your mind and the clarity and joy that comes from achieving these things.”
I imagine it now, leaving Nantucket after a summer spent on island, going to EZIA and becoming the best person I was meant to be, a change that is not only external but internal too. Essentially I’d feel amazing, and I’d head back to “the real world,” ready to face any challenges thrown my way, renewed, refreshed, ready. But I wouldn’t be alone then, for part of the EZIA program is a customizable software that tracks my progress and keeps me in contact with EZIA trainers and nutritionists, even in the off season. And unlike working out in just any gym, this wellness is the fruit of labor that is social, communicative and even fun.
“I just love when somebody gets the results they’re after,” Isaiah beams. “I believe in doing everything we possibly can to create that opportunity and outcome.”
To see EZIA first hand, consider attending their preview party hosted on site at 88 Old South Road on Thursday, July 7th from 5 – 7 pm. Enjoy passed hors d’oeuvres, open bar and preview the club property and grounds. RSVP via email at email@example.com.
To learn more about EZIA Athletic Club, or to get a private tour, visit www.ezianantucket.com or call (508) 901-9251 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rebecca Nimerfroh is a writer and lives with her husband Jonathan on Nantucket year-round. For more of Rebecca’s work visit www.rebeccanimerfroh.com.