We had the good fortune of connecting with Jake Weiner and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jake, how does your business help the community?
When thinking about our impact on our community, two words come to mind: inclusion and opportunity. The meaning of these words are intertwined in everything we do at ZOOZ Fitness. The word ZOOZ, which is a Hebrew word meaning movement, formed the foundation for our community and the building blocks to providing inclusion and opportunity.
When ZOOZ Fitness started in 2014, the notion of creating opportunity was the main focus for establishing our community. Too often individuals with disabilities are not given opportunities to participate in community programs or activities. One of the most exciting components of our training philosophy is that we include our athletes’ entire support team in their fitness journey. Exercise has an incredible way of bringing people together; our athletes, their families, support staff, and our ZOOZ trainers have truly become a cohesive community.
To say inclusion is a powerful word in the ZOOZ community would be an understatement. Including everyone in this fitness community changes people’s lives, creates incredible bonds, breaks down barriers, and creates new opportunities. We believe that creating inclusive and accessible opportunities is paramount to the success of any organization.
ZOOZ was started with a vision to create fitness & wellness programs for all individuals regardless of ability level and we have succeeded in showing that anything and everything is possible. Our athletes, trainers, parents, support staff, and our entire community exemplifies the power of inclusion.
We have been so thrilled to witness the landscape in our community shift around the intersection of disability, fitness, and inclusion and this is what continues to drive us to provide our services each and every day. We will always push the boundaries of what is possible to create a world where everyone has the opportunity to become more physically active and live a healthy and balanced lifestyle.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
My journey to ZOOZ Fitness did not start like most entrepreneurs. I started my career working with individuals with disabilities in various settings – public and private schools, summer camps, community-based day programs, and non-profit organizations. When I think back to the first few years of my career, I had no intention of starting my own business and was very content working my way up the ladder to a management-type role. As the years progressed and as I continued to learn more and more about working with individuals with disabilities, I began to see a pattern and I started to reflect on one particular thought – why is movement not a part of these individuals’ lives? I could not get this idea out of my head!
Throughout my childhood, I was a very active kid and was a competitive Judo player. I loved all things movement and exercise. I know what you are thinking, no kid says that! I truly loved to get sweaty, move my body, try different active sports, and just loved being outdoors. So when I think about where this idea of ZOOZ came from, it really started from a much younger age, I just didn’t know it.
I can pinpoint the exact moment when I realized I needed to open an inclusive gym. In May 2017, I was traveling throughout Israel. Instead of taking in all the amazing sites we were visiting, I was spending each stop taking notes on everything from what the gym would look like, the type of equipment I would need, the classes we would offer, marketing initiatives, and so much more. I kept telling myself, “if I don’t open a gym like this, who will?” ZOOZ Fitness was born and a state-of-the-art gym was opened in April 2019!
As I stated before, ZOOZ Fitness was started with two main goals – opportunity and inclusion. These tenets formed the foundation of what ZOOZ Fitness has become. I think one of the main drivers of our success is an immense passion and commitment to helping others. I truly think a business can only be successful with a clear purpose and vision. This purpose and vision for creating a word of inclusion and opportunity set the tone for every decision we make.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
This task is a regular occurrence for my family. We often host friends and family from around the world and like to create fun and engaging activities for them while traveling through LA.
I would start off with a morning workout of course! We would head to the gym or beach for a run and swim and finish the morning with a smoothie or Acai bowl from Uba Tuba. From there we would head back to get ready for a day filled with activity. We would then head out for a delicious lunch at either Tel Aviv Grill for some Mediterranean food or Brent’s Deli for the best deli sandwich in LA. After lunch, I would head to the Venice Canals for a walk and afternoon coffee at Menotti’s Coffee Stop. I am a new father so my late afternoon would involve taking my son back for a nap, which would give me time to take my guests around LA. We would check out all the usual tourist spots and throughout the week could explore some of my other favorite activities and restaurants throughout LA, such as:
· Grand Central Market (Great assortment of food)
· Griffith Observatory(Unique look at the solar system and hiking trails)
· Malibu beaches (Swimming and relaxation)
· Milk Bar (Desserts galore! Everything here is fantastic)
· Perch (Amazing views and great drinks. Perfect for parents’ night out!)
· El Cholo (Delicious Mexican food)
· Sidecar Donuts (You didn’t hear this from me)
· Hollywood Bowl (Incredible concert venue)
There is no doubt that a trip with us would be fun and filled with lots and lots of exercise so they would feel guilt-free eating all that LA has to offer!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I owe much credit and recognition to many people in my life. First and foremost, my family! My entire family has been and continues to be incredibly supportive every step of the way. From the very moment I told them all of this idea, they all said, “GO FOR IT!”
Shoutout to my countless friends who join me for every event ZOOZ puts on/participates in, help set up and tear down my booth at resource fairs, carry equipment, and of course, let me train them in the gym to try out new routines.
Lastly, a huge shoutout to my incredible training team at the gym. The gym would not be successful without the talents and compassion of each and every one of my trainers and their shared vision for an inclusive space we call ZOOZ Fitness!