New Jersey Business Partners Run Not-for-Profit Gym, Donate Money to Those in Need

September 27, 2023 by
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When Patrick Kennedy, co-owner of Primitive Fitness Co., saw gyms in his area start to close, following the COVID-19 pandemic, he and business partner Bryant Salavarrieta knew they needed to step in. 

Primitive Fitness Co. opened in November of 2021, but had a more official opening in February of 2022. Kennedy saw multiple gyms in his area of Freehold, New Jersey start to close and knew members would be dispersed. He and Salavarrieta got together, spoke to a real estate agent, found an available space, and within a week got everything up and running. 

  • “We looked at the building, we said we’d take it. We signed the lease on Friday. We literally opened the business the following Saturday. So we built the entire gym in one week,” said Kennedy. 
  • Kennedy, who is a CrossFitter himself, was a member at one of the gyms that announced it was shutting down and didn’t want to see those members have to find a new place to train. 
  • “We’ve grown pretty organically, we don’t really advertise and the big thing is we don’t run for profit. We’re not a 501c3 (an official document certifying a not-for-profit), but my partner and I got together, we both own other companies, so we decided we could do some good with the money and anything that doesn’t go to the gym operations we try and find local charities and donate the money to people that need it.”
  • “My partner and I have been pretty fortunate in life and we said if we could give back and help others and run a gym that is family oriented then why not?” 

Kennedy adds, he doesn’t seek out corporate charities, instead he takes suggestions from members or from word-of-mouth in the community. 

One of the first donations he made was to the family of Commander Brian Bourgeois, 43, who died in December of 2021 while doing a fast-rope evaluation training in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Bourgeois left behind a wife and five children. 

When Kennedy heard about this horrible incident he knew he wanted to help. Instead of going through the Navy Seal Foundation he was able to make contact with the family and donate directly to Bourgeois’ widow. 

  • “What we did was we got together with our members and said we’re not asking for an amount. We don’t care what it is, we’re going to put a jar up and we’re going to do a memorial workout for him and whatever you guys put in the jar, Bryant and I are going to match and donate to the family.” 
  • “Our members were able to raise $3500 during one workout and then Bryant and I matched it and it wound up being $7000.” 
  • In another instance, a gym member had a child with medical needs and the gym donated enough money for the family to stay near the facility for a month, while the child recovered from a surgery. 
  • “We don’t believe in organizations, we believe in people.” 

Even though the gym is a not-for-profit, Kennedy says it is well equipped with top of the line machines and equipment. Kennedy and Salavarrieta emphasize, “We give our members the best of everything because we’re not taking any money.” 

The gym has donated over $50,000 after only being open for a little over a year. A testament not only to Kennedy and Salavarrieta’s commitment to paying it forward, but also his members. 

“We have one rule in the whole gym: fit in or you’re out and that’s it,” said Kennedy. Luckily, they haven’t hadn’t to turn down any charity requests thus far and hope never to have to as long as the business keeps growing. 

“We’re not trying to buy our way into heaven or anything like that. We just want to try and help people if we can.”

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