Couple bring fitness center to Southside Mall

Allison Collins

Matthew Glynn, owner of DragonHawk Fitness, is shown in his Oneonta gym in late August.

Unadilla resident Matthew Glynn traded engineering for exercise.

Together with his wife Lauren, Glynn, 33, launched DragonHawk Fitness, a Crossfit-inspired gym, at the Southside Mall in Oneonta in February. The 5006 State Highway 23 site is the latest iteration, Glynn said, of a similarly named but Crossfit-affiliated gym opened by the pair in 2017.

“(Thirteen years ago), I moved down into the area when I took a job as an engineer at Amphenol (Aerospace in Sidney) after graduating from RIT,” Glynn said. “I didn’t know anybody from the area, but one of the things I’d always wanted to do was martial arts. So, I found Oneonta Tai Kwon Do … and got my black belt and started training for competition. I wanted to get better at sparring, but needed good, high-intensity endurance. I met my wife doing tai kwon do … and around that time, (she) was getting back into exercising. She had been one of the OG Crossfitters — she was out in California for school, so she was there when it was first starting — and she’d joined a Crossfit gym here and said, ‘Hey, you’d be really good.’”

Glynn said skepticism quickly gave way to enthusiasm.

“I said, ‘Ah, this seems like a bunch of malarky,’ so I didn’t do it for a few months, then she became a (Crossfit) coach,” he said. “I said, ‘Let me go see what it’s about’ and a guy put me through a workout that was very brief but was very humbling … and I thought, ‘I want to be able to do that and still have energy.’

“We were there for two years and I learned the methodology (of Crossfit) and what its purpose was,” Glynn continued. “I realized, there’s a whole thing to this and a lot going on here. I’d learned how to exercise wrong probably three different times, but once I actually started learning about human anatomy and physiology, with what I learned about Crossfit, that’s what made the most sense. It has the lowest rate of injury and has proven time and time again to be the most effective.”

Glynn said, while he and Lauren attempted to buy that gym, plans fell through, leading to the first DragonHawk.

“We were looking at it going, ‘We could do this,’” he said. “So, we looked into finding a space and made the decision. We realized we could actually do it for our community and help improve people’s lives in a meaningful way and that aligns with our values super well. We decided I would leave my job and be the full-time person at the gym.”

Glynn said the COVID-19 pandemic spurred the gym’s move from the renovated service bay of the Flagpole Nissan building in Oneonta to its Southside site.

“We’d put in a whole lot of work (at Flagpole) and briefly expanded into a tai kwon do school there, then the pandemic hit and we closed down,” he said. “Luisa (Montanti) is the manager at the Southside Mall and was a member at the time, so she said, ‘You could keep your stuff at my space,’ so we … moved in and renovated the former Radio Shack. It’s more floor space than we had, higher ceilings and the floors are actually level, so it’s a vast improvement in our workout space and it’s been great.”

Also during that transition, Glynn said, he discontinued the gym’s affiliation with Crossfit to gain entrepreneurial autonomy, becoming DragonHawk Fitness.

As DragonHawk Fitness, Glynn said, he’s better able to meet his mission.

“Our primary service is group fitness classes, which are more like group personal training, where you have a coach whose sole job is to make sure you’re doing movements correctly,” he said. “It’s giving a workout tailored for your goals. In Crossfit, there’s a saying: people’s fitness needs vary in degree, not time. A grandmother and an Olympic athlete need the same kind of fitness, but they need different levels. Everybody goes (to the gym) for a specific reason — to get stronger, lose weight, prepare for competition — and in our group classes, (people) are doing the same workout at the same time, but with variations, so everyone gets what they need.

“We run four of those group classes a day, starting at 5:30 a.m., and they’re about an hour,” Glynn continued. “What’s really important for me now, being the person in charge, is the education element. I want people to know how to do it properly. You’re going to the gym to be healthy, and injury is the opposite of healthy, so we have a dedicated team of coaches and that’s what they do.”

Glynn said DragonHawk also offers personal training and the Barbell Club, an Olympic, USA Weightlifting-affiliated weightlifting group.

DragonHawk’s clientele is diverse and growing, he said.

“It’s Cooperstown, Delhi and out to Sidney for our core demographic,” he said. “The highest percentage of people in the same group is 30- to 40-year-old women, but it’s older men and women and younger men and women, too.”

As membership increases, Glynn said, he hopes to deepen his community ties.

“Our goal is to be able to provide more community outreach,” he said. “Like workouts in the park and nutrition and fitness presentations to give people the idea of not only what to do … but more of the logistics of what is a good workout, what is good food and how do I create good habits. As we get more successful, I can give more stuff free to help the community be healthier.”

Glynn said he also plans to add more general fitness classes and a Silver Sneakers-inspired class for senior citizens.

He said DragonHawk features a free, “no-sweat intro,” including a gym tour, mini workout and consultation.

For more information, including updates on a late-October Olympic weightlifting open house, visit dragonhawkfitness.com, email dragonhawkfitness@gmail.com or call or text 607-431-8135.

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