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Privacy is the Key at Local Business

Philadelphia Private Gym is unique to Pennsylvania, says owner.

The first word in the name of the business isn't geographically accurate.

The second word is precise and essential.

at 2636 Bristol Pike is the only private gym in Pennsylvania, according to owner Pondeli Hajioannou. And that's just the way he wants it.

“Nobody likes being on display,” he said.

Hajioannou, a Philly native who lives in Andalusia, has been a personal trainer since 1984. He said he worked many years at public gyms before opening his business in Bensalem in 2000.

“I couldn't really function in a public gym anymore,” he said. “It's a perfect mouse trap. They promise people one thing and give them something else.”

“I cut out everything I didn't like. I don't like having sales people and receptionists. I don't want people to be watching my client while I'm training them,” he said.

“I wanted a place with no windows,” he added.

Hajioannou provides only one-on-one, by-appointment training.

“I'm a coach for one,” he said.

There are never any more than four clients at any given time being advised by him, his wife and some outside trainers if needed. Such personal attention could mean high fees at Philadelphia Private Gym but that's another way Hajioannou wanted to be different.

“People pay thousands of dollars to join private gyms in New York,” he said. “I charge anywhere from $50 to $75 for an hour, and there are no other fees.”

The 49 year old also offers a free first hour during which he evaluates the best training for the client. His fees, he says, are even cheaper than hiring personal trainers at public gyms.

“I could charge a couple hundred dollars an hour. Do I charge that? Of course I don't,” he said. “I like to keep busy and I like to help people.”

Generally speaking, Hajioannou says, most folks won't travel more than five miles to get to a gym. That was a prime reason he opened at the site of the former Cherry's nightclub in Bensalem, close to Route 95.

“I needed to make sure I was putting together a place that everybody could get to,” he said. “This provides easy access to everybody.”

The gym comprises 4,000 square feet but it doesn't look that big.

“The walls in the gym are gray and the ceiling is black and everything is painted flat colors to give the appearance the place is smaller then actual size,” he said. “I never want any of my clients feeling overwhelmed.

“To most of my clients this is their private gym, their sanctuary. I have cut off the outside world from here, so people can leave the stress of their everyday life at my door step and come in and feel safe as I never want anyone to feel judged.”

“Most places use bright colors and mirrors on opposite walls to make their places look bigger than what they are. … To get the best workouts you can get, you must take out all the distractions, you must focus to get into the zone. This is hard to do when you have all the normal things going on in a regular gym or studio. No distractions, nothing to get into the way of your workout. One-on-one, the way I believe it should be.”

Hajioannou says he's gotten grief for calling a business in Bensalem, Philadelphia Private Gym.

“It was originally Pondeli's Lift for Life but people thought I was a lifting company,” he said. “Then it was Pondeli's One-On-One Personal Training Sessions but that was a big mouthful.

“I used 'Philly' in explaining to people that I am Philadelphia's private gym. My core clients are not just from Bensalem. I'm not the local Bensalem gym. In Cherry Hill who's going to know Bensalem? … Parx Casino didn't call itself Bensalem Casino.”

That doesn't mean Hajioannou cares little about local businesses. Three years ago, he started the and still runs it.

“There was no association in Bensalem to help local businesses,” he said.

Pondeli also writes a fitness blog on Bensalem Patch. Click here to check it out.

Pondeli Hajioannou November 10, 2011 at 12:12 PM
Thank you Vic for writing the article and thank you Joe for approving it.
Yanni H November 10, 2011 at 02:50 PM
I've worked out at Pondeli's gym and find it to be a better experience then public gyms. When I go to public gyms you have to constantly wait for equipment. On top of that, the employees there usually lack knowledge in the fitness world. Sure you can be in great shape, but does that mean you know how to create a perfect workout for anyone? Pondeli is extremely experienced and able to be flexible with anyone's goals. In short, I highly recommend this gym to anyone.
judith rhoads November 10, 2011 at 09:11 PM
We love the Philadelphia Private Gym! Pondeli is a super trainer who listens to us & tailors each work-out to our individual needs. He is patient yet effective, and the work-outs seem to just fly by. We would recommend Pondeli's Gym to people of all ages and ability levels.
Kevin J Millevoi November 14, 2011 at 01:16 PM
I have worked out at Philadelphia Private Gym in the past and the service and quality of training you receive is far superior than any other gym. Pondeli and his staff have the knowledge and resources to get results quickly. I highly recommend anyone looking to get in shape, lose weight or just feel better about themselves to call Pondeli and start working out today!
Dave Rubin November 15, 2011 at 02:25 PM
I've known Pondeli for a couple of years and while I have not worked out at his private gym, the man definitely knows what he's doing. His knowledge of fitness and his coaching style will not only motivate anyone who's looking to get into shape and feel better about themselves, but will also learn the right way to do so. He doesn't just give you a routine to follow, he explains the importance of each exercise and the benefits from it. Plus, he's right there with you..one on one. If you're thinking about joining a gym or getting into shape, you owe it to yourself to talk to Pondeli first. You won't be disappointed.
Annielee Schrier November 16, 2011 at 01:20 AM
If I had to use one word to describe Pondeli it would be amazing. He is an awesome trainer and has made such a difference in my life. I am so much stronger in mind and body from his training. If you need a jump start in your life he is the man to see you will not believe how much you will get out of your workouts. Do yourself a favor and give him a try.
Tom Kovacevich November 16, 2011 at 09:53 AM
Pondeli and Marianne are great people who really know what they are doing. My son and I train regularly with Marianne and have seen great results. Training your body is the best thing you can do for your mind, start lifting with these guys, you will be happy you did!
Pondeli Hajioannou November 23, 2011 at 10:44 AM
Thank you Tom for your kind words and more specifically for mentioning your trainer Marian. She is an intricate part of Philadelphia Private Gym as a nationally certified personal trainer (A.C.E.) with over 20 years experience and a celebrated international female bodybuilder. When you want to be pushed to the limit Marian is the trainer you want to work with. This is why her book is normally full.
Pat Lorenz December 01, 2011 at 10:59 PM
I have joined numerous gyms over the years -- paid those yearly membership rates, said that this time would be different -- and once again, I basically threw my money away. Then about 2 years ago, I saw a flyer on my windshield at the train station for Pondeli's Fit for Life and thought "Ok, I'm going to check this out and try it for a month and maybe that will get me motivated." Well, not only did it motivate me -- here I am 2 years later and I can't bring myself to stop. I absolutely love the one-on-one personal training. It's just me and my trainer Marian -- she knows my body, she knows my limitations, and she pushes me a little further each time. She constantly reminds me about eating right and keeps me on the right path. I actually look forward to my sessions and I love seeing the results that I have gotten over the last 2 years. I feel stronger, my body is leaner, I have muscles I never knew I had and I have so much more confidence. Honestly, if you are looking for professional people who understand the human body and have the training, knowledge and experience to help you to achieve your goals and get you in shape, then look no further. You may think having a personal trainer is expensive (like I did) but when it all comes down to it – it’s a small price to pay for looking and feeling great – I’m worth it – and so are you!

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