PORTLAND, Maine — The Form Lab, a gym based in Portland, officially opened its doors on Feb. 1, 2022, but the idea for a gym that catered to both its clients and fitness coaches was first formed during the pandemic.
The gym, which was opened by Westbrook native Andrew Blais, Portland native Sarah Oliveras, and her husband Eric, aims to help people get the most out of their workouts by changing how they think and move.
"[We thought] wouldn't it be fun to start something where we could really control you know the mission, the philosophy, and build a community that we were passionate about, that made us feel good?" Oliveras said.
"We wanted to create a space where people could come in, really learn their bodies and, I've said it to many clients, I don't want you to have to train with me forever," Blais said. "I want to teach you what you need to know so you can branch out and do physical things on your own and feel comfortable knowing you're not going to hurt yourself, knowing you're going to be able to progress the right way."
In addition to building a space that was based around community and connection, the team said it was important for them to provide their staff with opportunities for education and healthcare.
Blais, who had previously been working as a coach at another local gym, said benefits like healthcare are almost unheard of as a trainer. It was also possible that trainers would be working two to three jobs to supplement income.
"It's a very comforting feeling knowing you are coming to a place that wants to give you healthcare, that wants to give you PTO, that wants to provide continuing education benefits for you," Blais said.
“A lot of them have to piece together this job that they have so much passion for by having multiple jobs. And ironically, they're here to keep us healthy and most of them don't even have access to healthcare," Oliveras said. "To me, that struck a chord. I just felt there was a hypocrisy in this industry where these folks, these professionals, aren't really treated as such."
In the last year, the gym has seen exponential growth. It started with roughly 30 people and has since grown tenfold, according to Oliveras.
The gym started with a manager, two full-time trainers, and one-part time trainer. It now has seven trainers, two massage therapists, and even an assistant manager.
The services have also expanded from personal training and group classes to kinstretch, Olympic weight training, and more. Growth has been so good, the gym is currently looking for a larger space to accommodate everyone.
“We were talking recently about how it was just an idea, and then a full year down our idea has come to fruition, it's just so exciting and to just think about where we can go from here,” Blais said.
"I think we are definitely pinching ourselves," Oliveras said.
While the main goal is to help clients get the most out of their workouts and teach them how to avoid injury, The Form Lab team is also a huge proponent of community events and fundraisers.
To learn more about The Form Lab, its mission, and upcoming events, watch the full 207 segment or click here.