Walking into a gym can feel intimidating and isolating. People are buried in their own worlds running on a treadmill, while others stare helplessly at huge pieces of weight equipment they feel uncomfortable using on their own.
Don Somerville, owner of Different Breed Sports Academy, understands this and many other obstacles that prevent both adults and kids from achieving their peak fitness. Somerville opened Different Breed Sports Academy on Water Street in Teaneck in October of 2019 in order to encourage a more personalized and engaging gym experience.
“We want someone to feel like they’re walking into their home to work out—not the gym,” Somerville said. “Our instructors here will help you set and achieve your fitness goals. It’s like getting semi-personal training.”
Somerville, an amateur boxer, was a young athlete growing up in a single-parent home with a lot of negative external influences. Through his boxing, which he started in 1999, he was able to keep his mind focused on a productive future. His dedication has led him to win titles as a New Jersey Golden Glove and Diamond Glove champion, and as a competitor in the 1996 U.S. Nationals. Most recently Somerville won the 2018 Nationals in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Somerville wanted to give other children the same positive outlet that he was fortunate to have growing up. While the Academy has classes geared toward adults, it also runs a strong outreach program for young children.
“I want to give kids the choice that I had,” he said. “I was observant. I saw the opportunities they were lacking.”
In addition to the dangers of running with the wrong crowd, this new generation of children also has less incentive to go outside and be active, Somerville explained.
“In my generation, kids were outside playing,” he said. “In order to see somebody you had to go out and be with them. You couldn’t FaceTime them. Obesity, not being active—it’s a big deal.”
After doing some traveling in Missouri, Louisiana and Colorado, where he visited the Olympic training center as a coach, Somerville came back to New Jersey knowing he had to provide a resource for kids to stay active and serious about their futures. The academy holds weekly youth boxing and fitness classes for children ages 7 to 12, and separate classes for those 12 and older.
“We’re teaching them the importance of getting fit, and at the same time we are mentoring them,” Somerville said. “We’re teaching them the importance of staying off the streets. We have members of the Teaneck fire department that train here. They also serve as great role models for the kids. They see other successful adults around them and it helps motivate them to do something positive in their own lives.”
Both children and adult members are surrounded by a group of qualified instructors that are there to help encourage members to reach their own personal fitness objectives.
Somerville’s instructors include those with a master’s degree in sports science, former educators, certified trainers and physical therapists.
In addition to providing a unique fitness program, the Academy is involved in many community and social outreach programs such as coat drives, food drives with local charter schools, raffles and giveaway training sessions at Teaneck’s local shuls, donation dinners and much more.
“I see us changing the way the fitness industry is done, and how gyms are run,” Somerville said of the Academy’s growing influence in the near future. “It’s not like a gym where you have to pay for a personal trainer. Here it’s like an all-you-can-eat buffet—you pay one price for a service that is unparalleled.”
For adults, classes and memberships are as follows:
General membership is $50 a month for two free classes per month and access to the entire facility, except for the elite section, which offers high-end cardiovascular and strength equipment.
Next level up is the competitive package for $75 a month, which includes four classes per month, access to the entire facility, the elite section and one personal training session.
The elite package, $140 a month, offers members 12 classes per month, free personal training sessions and access to the elite section.
Classes include yoga, strength and conditioning, cardio, boxing, body sculpting and aerobics. There is also a women-only class, alpha female, which focuses on women’s empowerment and fitness.
For more information please visit https://www.differentbreedsportsacademy.com/.