“We train you in here for a life outside” is Port-born-and-bred owner Jake Sussman’s motto for his new gym Island Athletics, which opened in August where the old Port Washington CrossFit once sat. After changing the name to Island Athletics, Sussman continues to offer CrossFit classes, which mix elements of strength and conditioning, gymnastics and cardio, to the Port Washington community.
“When I was growing up the training station was the only gym in town and they were on Main Street where Massage Envy is now and that was really the only gym,” said Sussman. “I was always interested in fitness and I thought it would be awesome if I could provide a place for people of all different ages to come together and discover crossfit, get fitter and meet some like-minded people. Doing it in town it was a big thing for me.”
Sussman had gone away to school in Colorado, came home and began working for a family business, but he soon realized that he couldn’t fake passion. The Port native soon got into personal training, got his certificate and started working at local CrossFit gyms. With two masters, one in sports and exercise science and the other in physical education, from Hofstra University, Sussman decided he finally had the knowledge to start his own business.
“Finally, this past summer, my buddy Nick Dello-Iacono who is a Port Washington police officer who works here, he called me up and said Crossfit Port Washington closed down because other opportunities had come up, so we knew this building was vacant,” said Sussman. “I reached out to this landlord, we negotiated a lease and it was finally my time to run my own show which was awesome. Since I have a formal education, two masters degrees in it, I really try to go above and beyond to give them the best kind of workouts I can possibly give them to get them as fit as I can. It’s moreso the vibe we like to have, like yeah, we’re here to get you fit, but we believe that fun breeds consistency and consistency breeds results.”
Island Athletics is a CrossFit gym. CrossFit is a strength and conditioning model that combines elements of weightlifting using barbells, dumbells, kettlebells, gymnastics or body weight movements and cardiovascular exercises like running, rowing, jump roping, biking.
“We believe in function,” said Sussman. “We’re not huge fans of machines. We’d rather lift our bodies and objects like free weights because we feel it mimics the demands of life a little bit. Our demands differ by degree, not by kind, so we may have a college football player who might be deadlifting 500 pounds and then we might have a mom who just wants to get fitter to lift her laundry basket or her grandkids off the ground. They’re both picking stuff off the ground, but one is doing it at 500 pounds and one is doing 30.”
The gym offers hour-long small group classes for all skill levels. Each day, the gym offers a new workout created by Sussman that can be scaled to fit different skill levels, so everyone in the class is doing a version of the same workout.
“Crossfit is intimidating to a lot of people and what we try to do is create an experience for them and at the end of the day, it’s just an exercise,” said Sussman. “You’re supposed to feel better leaving here than when you got here. For Nick and I, crossfit was our hour where we could forget about the rest of the day where you don’t have to look at your cell phone or worry about work, so we tried to emulate that here.”
Sussman is joining forces with his childhood friend Mike Furino, the Executive Director of Be The Best Sport, to provide a “Burn The Bird” event at Island Athletics to showcase the new gym and benefit the local nonprofit organization that focuses on providing adaptive sports, socialization and vocation program for children, teens and adults. Residents can form eight teams of three at $100 per team and get a CrossFit workout to burn off the Thanksgiving calories on Nov. 25 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
“I had been wanting to do a post-Thanksgiving workout for 5 years and I figured with something like this, I want to help him out and he wants to help me out so it works,” said Furino. “With this, you’re getting a workout, lunch and to hang out with their friends.”
“It’s an everybody wins situation,” added Sussman. “The charity gets to raise money, people get in shape and it’s a way for us to come together around Thanksgiving. It’s just a fun day for the town, our friends and families. It’s a way for everybody to come together.”
For more information about Island Athletics, which is located at 40 Sintsink Dr. E, Port Washingotn, visit www.islandathleticsli.com or call 516-472-7274. To register for the upcoming “Burn The Bird,” visit www.bethebestsport.org/events/burn-the-bird/.