Black Business Spotlight with Benswic Fitness
Here at Mid Strike Magazine, we are very supportive of the brands, people, and businesses that we support especially when it comes to Black-owned businesses. Over the past couple of months we’ve been constantly updating our Black-owned business glossary with the goal to continue to expand and grow our list. Each month, our goal is to also highlight a Black-owned business and provide you with an in-depth overview of their services, offers, and their commitment to servicing our Black communities.
This month we spotlight William Marshal, founder of Benswic, a sports performance gym in Harlem NYC.
MSM: Most fitness professionals we come across are usually catered to adults but what we noticed with Benswic is that you also work with youth, which is pretty awesome. What made you decide to create a space not only for adults but youth as well?
William: I have a tight-knit family of six, consisting of my wife and four kids. And being that I am a family man, Benswic is a family business and very family-oriented. We want to cater to the entire family and be an outlet for families. We want them to relieve their stress while staying in shape and having fun. We also want to bridge the gap between parents and their children to encourage functional family foundations.
MSM: Tell us about the man behind Benswic. Who is William Marshall?
William: I am the founder and I started Benswic in the Fall of 2016 with the goal of giving back quality coaching and training to youth and adults. I have been a runner my whole life, starting at the age of 7. I’ve competed in clubs, high school, college (Adelphi University), and continue to compete today. Along the way, I decided to take up fitness and become a personal trainer full-time. This pushed me to become certified, making me more qualified for the services I provide. Benswic was created with the idea of providing value for both youth and adults through an athletic gym. I want to make sure everyone knows they are valued and that they are reaching their goals. This passion stems from my experiences in not receiving this and the great need for it in today’s organizations and gyms.
MSM: Tell us how the name came about, Benswic. What is the meaning and how did you come up with it?
William: Three years ago I was contemplating a name that truly represented the essence of my brand. I asked my family for help and together we created a name that consisted of all of our initials. My wife and 4 children (Bryana, Emmanuel, Christopher and Nyomi) are the core of the program and my daily motivation. And being that this is a family business, we created a name that incorporated that: B for my oldest daughter, E for my oldest son, N for my youngest daughter, S for my lovely wife, Wi for me, and C for my youngest son.
MSM: You’re from New York City, from Harlem, yet sadly Harlem is not one of the best places for us in the Black community when it comes to finding healthy foods to eat or a focus on being a healthy community. When Benswic fitness was created were these some of the instances you thought about, essentially wanting to change the dynamic of fitness in your community?
William: Yes of course. I definitely had this in mind, which is why we created our own competition One-Rep MAX. One-Rep MAX began in the Winter of 2020 in Harlem as the first competition within this community to objectively measure one’s overall athleticism through a variety of events. By hosting this event monthly, we give competitors something to work towards, whether it’s a personal goal or to simply win. Either way, we set individuals up to get and stay fit each month. Having this will motivate all to stay healthy. We feel this could be fulfilling to each individual but more importantly, bring families together and empower the community! Through our classes and private training, we aim to have our clients be athletes for their entire life, to develop a healthy lifestyle. We also offer summer camp to help the youth stay focused and fit. One of our goals for the end of the year is to provide meal prep to the community. All of the services we offer work together to better the community.
MSM: Your workouts are based on value rather than quantity. For our readers, tell us what this consists of and how this helps your clients?
William: First, our mindset is to pull out the inner athletes from each of our clients. We then focus on the core value of the human body, in other words the biomechanics. Biomechanics solely focuses on the structure and range of motion. We zero in on clients’ individual strengths and weaknesses in four key areas of fitness: strength, cardio, balance, and core. I refuse to allow my business to be a quick fix. We’re investing in the long-term. We’re invested in developing the best version of each client. Instead of encouraging unrealistic goals, we want our clients to have a working body into old age and to be athletes for life.
MSM: You seem to focus a lot on the analytics when it comes to training and working with clients. Focusing on the science behind the workouts as well. We’re all about science and numbers because quite simply the numbers and science are always right. Give us some insight into how you bring the numbers into your workouts?
William: Most of what we do depends on the classes we offer. For example, in our Balance & Strength class I typically make a certain exercise: 3 sets of 1 min. For that reason, clients have time to at least get the movement down pat and go at their own pace. Whereas, if I made it 30 seconds, it wouldn’t be enough time, and clients would not be able to make the most of the exercise. Another example would be our Sports Endurance class that challenges clients’ muscular endurance. I start them off with an overload by giving them weight of the upper body, then lower body, and finish off w/ compound movement (meaning involve multiple joints and multiple muscles being used at the same time). And afterward, they have bodyweight training. This is designed to challenge their muscles that they have left to do a 20 sec on and 10 sec off (rest) exercise. I do this to train the overuse of muscles that they use day-to-day and still manage to still hold it together without compensating.
MSM: Your core values of Benswic are “Stamina, Strength, Endurance, Speed, Flexibility, Power, Coordination, Agility, and Balance”. As a runner I’m sure there’s a few of these that I lack or work more than another. How do you build this into the foundations of your clients, especially those that are being built from the ground up?
William: Everything starts off with an introduction that can easily become repetitive. I have the tendency to dress it up at times because it can become boring. I also teach variations, allowing each individual to go at their own pace. There’s nothing like moving up to the next level!
MSM: The motto of “forging greatness while changing lives” is the Benswic motto. As a trainer have you ever taken a step back to take in the successes of your clients?
William: A lot of my clients have been with me since I first started, which was 2017… and it still gets to me to see the progress each individual has made over the years, so much so that I’m actually trying to convince one in particular to become a trainer!
MSM: As mentioned earlier, Benswic is a well-rounded fitness business with a focus on all age groups. You also offer summer camps/sessions, which is amazing. What are some of the programs you offer to keep kids fit during the summer?
William: This summer [we have a] sports performance camp for all youth athletes starting July 5th, for three weeks, a speed camp that starts in August for ages 12+, and a week-long soccer camp in August. We want these kids to be in shape and ready for the Fall season.
MSM: We always see the success of individuals that have obtained it but what we don’t see is the journey to get there. Give our readers a peek into your journey, some of the successes and struggles along the way.?
William: My journey in developing a company like mine, actually started with a completely different name – Fuse Academy. It started primarily as a track and field club for youth where I had the opportunity to meet a variety of people along the way that allowed me to broaden my horizons and to explore other areas such as fitness. And from there I had the opportunity to do an afterschool program at an elementary school, which then led to me being director of the program with my brand Benswic. From there, I saw the opportunity to do a storefront. I had to put a down payment for 8 months immediately and I struggled because I had no clients coming through and this made me doubt and have insecurities. But I stayed persistent, hoping that one day my work would pay off and clients would be coming in. Around February 2018, clients really started to roll in. But during the pandemic, like many other gyms, my business began to suffer. I really struggled with the idea of doing virtual. I may have chosen this hardship but I chose to endure the pandemic and shut down completely for five or six months. I chose not to do virtual because I didn’t see this fitting with the vision of my business and where I wanted it to go, especially with the type of training that I provide.
The benefit of this though was that my family and I got closer. I made everything about my wife and my four children. We were doing family workouts, obstacle courses, and much more. And in the process, my brain was stimulating ideas, I was getting innovative and I didn’t know what it would look like until August of 2020 when we had approval for outdoor training. I proceeded with offering classes and one has become very popular to this day – 4 Stack Combo (combination of strength, cardio, balance, and core). I felt like that was my go-to coming back as that was the only class that I taught into the winter season. But during last year, from August to November, so much success came out of it.
And here I am thinking that the sacrifice I made became a reward as I was able to spend time with my family, catch up with rent, make investments, and develop my clientele immensely. Our data shows that we’ve truly grown and doubled in numbers. I have developed momentum, creating an apparel line, hosting events (One-Rep MAX, the monthly friendly competition I told you about previously), and creating new classes. So that’s where we are currently and we look to develop more connections with other trainers, in and outside the state, we look to do more events, and to expand into a bigger facility space.
MSM: For folks looking to get a nice session in with Benswic how can they connect?
MSM: Any last words that you’d like to share with our readers? How can we follow and keep up with your journey?
William: Yes, we’re always welcoming new clients who want to challenge themselves. To stay updated, we encourage you to follow us on social media (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest) with the handle @benswic. We also have an apparel line that you can check out at https://shopatbenswic.com.