SENECA FALLS — Dr. Kingsley Kabari is a man of business as well as fitness.
Still, he was unaware what the “flywheel” concept meant in the world of commerce until he reconnected with an old friend, Dustin Siggins, a Virginia-based business columnist who is always seeking topics to write about. When Siggins learned of Kabari’s new venture, the Kabari Wellness Institute, he pitched the article to Zenger News service, which syndicates its articles to Forbes.com.
The digital-only article, “Focus on the Flywheel: Strategies for Raising a Company’s Revenue,” appeared March 29 and uses Kabari’s business as emblematic of the flywheel concept, an approach that Siggins writes was first articulated by Jim Collins in his 2001 book “Good to Great.”
In the piece, Siggins notes how Kabari’s business model has grown from initially just offering chiropractic care to its current model offering an umbrella of wellness services in the former St. Patrick’s school building that Kabari opened last fall.
Siggins called Kabari “a true entrepreneur” who understands the power of his brand in his community.
“I really wanted to showcase his story,” said Siggins, who in the article notes that Collins believes most successful companies have four to six interlocking components that feed each other and over time create momentum and success.
“The Kabari Wellness Institute’s flywheel is different from Amazon’s, but no less powerful. Just as Amazon expanded its store, distribution and other offerings as it grew, so did the Institute,” Siggins writes. “First, it was a chiropractic company. Then, it expanded to a full gym with fitness classes. A second location gave it more access to more clients, and its latest expansion made it a landlord for businesses within the health and wellness sphere.”
Siggins points out that Kabari does not rent space to businesses unrelated to health and wellness, and that the Institute’s narrow focus benefits not only Kabari but his renters and all of their clients.
Kabari and his wife, Dr. Alsia Kabari, bought the former 35,000-square-foot Catholic school at 81 W. Bayard St. in 2019 and opened its doors in September 2020. The 2015 New York Chiropractic College graduate had been offering chiropractic care at the Maximum Fitness gym in Kingdom Plaza on Routes 5&20, a logical location for him since he had been a longtime fitness coach. In 2016, the gym’s owner decided to retire and Kabari bought the business from him.
At that time, Kabari said he wanted Maximum Fitness to be a place where people could start and continue their journey to improved health.
“I want people to know that health and wellness is not a seasonal thing, it’s a journey they have to engage in every day,” he said.
Moving to a bigger facility — and adding more health and wellness services — is part of Kabari’s journey. Kabari said the Maximum Fitness location had become too small and the building and parking area were not well cared for by the landlord.
He also had a vision of adding complementary wellness services to his gym/chiropractic care facility, and the former St. Patrick’s school offered the space and layout to do so.
With gyms closed early on during COVID and patients gun shy about treatment, the silver lining of the pandemic is that it gave Kabari concentrated time to renovate the former school, with much of the demolition and less complicated work done by him as well as friends and supporters. The first floor has been completed and includes an array of separate offices, including:
• A wellness lounge, designed by Christine Van Dusen of CVDesigns of Seneca Falls, where clients can wait and relax before appointments. It’s equipped with a couch, dining table and small kitchenette area.
• A retail location where apparel, supplements and non-perishable local products are sold.
• Administrative offices.
• A welcome area in the lobby where members sign in and fill out COVID forms.
• Kabari Chiropractic, where Kabari meets patients for treatment (chiropractic care and hydromassage). That space also is shared with three mental health professionals and a dietician.
• The Wellness MedSpa, which is run by Dr. Alsia Kabari. A practicing OB/GYN in Utica, she works at the spa part time and offers such services as injectables (i.e. Botox), intradermal fillers, medical weight loss, vitamin injections (i.e. B12, D, Glutathione antioxidants) and IV hydration. Also working at the Wellness MedSpa are a massage therapist and licensed aesthetician.
• An annex upstairs is being leased by three local businesses that offer essential oils, Zumba and martial arts classes.
From basketball to weights
The centerpiece, however, is the gym — which in its former life saw its share of CYO basketball games but today teems with exercise equipment, organized by the body parts the different machines address. Kabari said 90 percent of the equipment is brand new. Cardiovascular machines such as treadmills and elliptical machines are positioned on the stage overlooking the gym area. There is a turf lane for pushing heavy equipment and foam mats for barbell weight lifting.
The Start to Fit logo is painted on the opposing wall and reflects Kabari’s philosophy of guiding people at the beginning and throughout their wellness journey, which includes not just physical health, but all elements like emotional and social health, too. The gym is currently open from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays and 8 a.m. to noon Saturday and Sunday, although personal trainers may hold classes at other times.
A bigger space with more services has yielded a doubling in membership, Kabari said — even during COVID. He stressed that COVID precautions are taken seriously, with mandatory sign-ins, sanitizing and mask rules enforced.
“We are getting a lot of traffic but I know we can do better because there are people in town who don’t know who we are,” Kabari said.
The building’s second floor is targeted for development of apartments and has been recommended by the local DRI board for $400,000 in state DRI funding. Demolition work has started and Kabari said he envisions the finished apartments attracting young professionals or perhaps students.
He credited “visionary partners” who have supported him ever since he came to Seneca Falls as a chiropractic student, trusted him as a personal trainer and patronized Maximum Fitness. Kabari said these “key people” brought him breakfast when he was working long hours at the gym and gave their share of sweat equity at the new location, helping with demolition and painting work, among other things.
“They believed in me and gave their all for me,” he said. “They supported me and the vision unconditionally and this is what we have today. The community benefits because of these people.”