Friends since middle school, Jennie Serrentini and Maria Callahan grew up together. They also worked out together. When Serrentini had her first child, the two friends decided to start working out in the new mom's back yard.
The backyard workouts quickly snowballed into a business, BCMF Total PHit LLC, which includes two fitness centers and more than 150 members. They opened the first center on Pine Hill Road in Port Richey five years ago. This month marks the first anniversary of their second center, in the Trinity Sportsplex on Pyramid Drive.
"It really is pretty crazy," said Callahan. "We always worked out together, but never thought it would grow to this."
Callahan and Serrentini's backyard workouts had grown to a group of about 15 women and had to be moved to Mitchell Field in New Port Richey. As the workout group kept growing, Serrentini suggested opening a gym.
"Jennie pushed me to do this," Callahan said. "She was the one to push me to believe in us."
The first year they ran the gym and also continued to work their primary jobs as bartenders.
"I was nervous," Callahan admits. "I made good money as a bartender and wasn't sure if we could swing the rent, insurance and taxes. It was scary."
After a year, the women were exhausted. So they decided to take the leap and put their all into the fitness center.
"We really want to help our members balance their lifestyles," Serrentini said of the business' philosophy. "It is a balance between your workout and what you eat to reach your own personal health and fitness goals."
While the Port Richey facility took a while to add members, the Trinity center quickly grew.
"Trinity is doing incredible," Serrentini said. "When we first opened in Port Richey, we had to build our name. The biggest obstacle was people didn't know we were here."
The reason for BCMF's success, the women believe, is that the center — previously known as Boot Camp Madness Fitness — really fulfills a need, especially for busy moms with children. Callahan, 32, has a 3-year-old son; Serrentini, 30, has a 5-year-old son and an 8-month-old son.
"That's how it started," Callahan said. "When we met at the park, parents would bring their kids in strollers. ... We're busy moms and blessed that we can bring our kids if we need to."
While the majority of members are women, the fitness centers cater to both men and women. In addition to Callahan and Serrentini, BCMF has four additional trainers and a full-time gym manager. There are small group trainings and challenge groups, as well as nutrition and supplement guidance. Both centers offer classes utilizing high-intensity interval training; the Port Richey center also offers an open gym and beginner classes. They also provide sports conditioning training, working with groups such as the basketball team at River Ridge High School, and recently had an extreme weight-loss group with a $1,000 prize.
"It's a lot of everything," Callahan said. "And we can do it because we have some great trainers."
"We've poured our hearts and souls into this," Serrentini said.