Part 3/3: Roseann Camarda “We are a family now more than ever”
Sticking to a fitness regimen for an extended period of time is an incredible feat. It is an accomplishment that is guaranteed to instill in you an intense feeling of gratification. For Roseann Camarda, owner of 3 THE MAX Challenge locations across Staten Island, ‘sticking with it’ is an understatement. Roseann is a MAX Challenge veteran. She has been a member of THE MAX for over 10 years, and an owner for over 7. She is a shining example of the success one can attain when making the life altering decision to go into business for oneself.
Roseann has been happily married for 32 years, is a mother of 3 and a grandmother, and served 21 years at Staten Island University Hospital. After chasing her dreams of becoming a MAX Challenge franchisee, she checked every single item off of her bucket list; from taking a two week vacation to Europe, to being able to purchase a summer home. However, as we soon discovered, no one in the United States was safe from feeling the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic. Roseann and her NYC centers were hit hard, and ended up closing their doors entirely for a full year. But for Roseann, everything comes with a silver lining. When I spoke with her, I learned of her astounding ability to turn the bad into the good.
From March 13th, 2020 to March 17th, 2021 all three of Roseann’s Staten Island THE MAX Challenge locations sat empty and silent, echoing the absence of members and staff that once filled them. Roseann was quick to get to work when it was announced that fitness studios would be closed to the public in NYC due to COVID. Only a few days after the announcement was made, Roseann was running 4 zoom classes per day for each of her locations. She taught 2 of these classes herself, and the rest were taught by ex-staff members who chose to teach as volunteers. “I have an unbelievable staff who volunteered their time and led classes on an everyday basis,” says Roseann. “I couldn’t have done it without my manager, Michelle, and my instructors, Amanda and Liz. Without them we couldn’t have gone forward. Their strength, their positivity, and their good hearts inspired me to just keep going.”
In true MAX fashion, Roseann says that her main motivator during tough times was her members. “My biggest motivator is my members and how much they wanted to continue with me, how much they supported me, and how they held my hand throughout the year. We’ve always been a family, always a MAX family. I am a member before I am an owner.” I was lucky enough to speak with Roseann after the announcement on March 17th, 2021 that group fitness could once again open up in NYC. She made a point to bring up what a vital role the New York Fitness Coalition played in both her own experience, and in the fight to reopen group fitness studios across NYC. “The New York Fitness Coalition pointed me in the right direction. They were my source of what to do and how to do it, and they are why we are able to open right now.”
Roseann had to pivot her entire business plan for far longer than anyone could ever have anticipated. I couldn’t help but wonder if that impacted her feelings about her career. “When you are ahead of the game you may start to lose your passion a little bit,” she began, referring to her many years of experience in the industry. “But right now, I am more passionate about it than I was ten years ago. We are coming back full force. What we have right now, we didn’t have 7 years ago. It doesn’t matter how high our numbers are, what I feel right now is beyond anything financially that I’ve ever experienced. We are ready to come back, and I am with them the whole way.” Even though the pandemic has forced many people to make tough financial decisions, Roseann held on strongly to a base of regulars. She is happy that she got an opportunity to grow closer to members from all locations who attend various class times. She goes on to say, “It feels like it did when I just started; so much personal interaction and that’s what THE MAX is about. We are about knowing our members. Sometimes you have to back up and realize what you have, and I realize that now.” It’s no secret why many of Roseann’s members across Staten Island are reeling to come back.
Roseann is a deeply caring person. The emotions she feels for her members come through in everything she does, from her dedication to them through tough times, to the way she speaks about them, to the amount of meticulous planning she is overseeing during the reopening. Roseann wants members to feel as comfortable as possible while things slowly begin to return to normal. She would like her members to remember, “It’s not ‘Roseann’s’ rules, it’s NYC’s rules. My main goal is to keep my staff and my members healthy. My staff will help members get through it. I will help them get through it. I am only a phone call away if anyone is feeling uncomfortable. But as I like to tell people, sometimes you have to get a little uncomfortable to reach your goal.” As her centers prepare to reopen, Roseann is providing educational zoom meetings with Q&A sessions to help members become acquainted with new procedures. She tells me that her last zoom call had over 200 individuals participating. “I will do it until we are ready to open those doors,” she states.
The last year has undoubtedly been one of mixed emotions for Roseann. Through all of the uncertainty she has been a pillar of strength for her community. She apologizes to me as tears begin to fill her eyes, “When I went to bed on March 17th, it was the first night that I didn’t have to say I’m sorry. I didn’t have to think, are my centers going to open up again? What is my future? I went to bed March 17th, and I slept sound, knowing we were going to move ahead.” Roseann is an incredibly inspiring person, and a true testament to the values behind THE MAX Challenge. She persevered through everything the world had to throw at her, and she came out the leader of a committed community. “We are a family now more than ever.”