Widgets Magazine

Fitness and a Hidden Gem with Dan Hagerman of Fitness Advantage and CrossFit North Tribe

Q: You and your sister are in the gym business together.  How did you two get started? A:  Sarah led the way, going to college for Exercise Science.  After graduating in 2001, she opened up a small personal training studio down Youngs Ave in Southold.

I started my college career with Athletic Training, but soon realized Exercise Science was the right path for me as well.  When I graduated in 2005 I came home to help transition the business (Fitness Advantage) to its new location on the corner of Youngs and Route 48, where we’ve been ever since.

In 2012, we extended our services by opening up CrossFit North Tribe, a Strength and Conditioning facility at the same location

Q: Does CrossFit North Tribe have a certain focus, or philosophy?

A:  Simply put, our goal is to get people to their goals: general health and longevity, strength development, weight loss, training for a specific event, keeping up with their kids—you name it!  We utilize barbell and other weightlifting movements, gymnastics, and calisthenics.  Those elements combined with hard work and group camaraderie makes for a great community.

Q: Are you a locals-only business, or is there a way visitors can enjoy your facilities?

A: We are definitely not locals only. Fitness Advantage offers day and short-term passes where you can find cardio equipment, resistance machines, free weights and group classes such as spin and yoga. Anyone can walk in any day, and we open early and close late!

CrossFit is a little different.  Membership requires completing a 4-week, 12 class course, which is designed to introduce new members to the movements they will see in our classes.  However, anyone visiting the area with CrossFit experience is more than welcome to drop in to a class.

Q: Oh, so CrossFit is a kind of thing, not something you came up with? There are other CrossFit places in the country?

A: Oh yeah.  There are over 10,000 CrossFit gyms in the world, though we are the only one on the North Fork.  It is not uncommon for a CrossFitter to find the nearest box (as they are referred) to where they are visiting.  We get people all the time stopping in to join us for a workout.  It’s always fun hearing about what their box is like since we are all unique in our own way.

Cross Fit Images

We are relatively small compared to a lot of other CrossFits but I’ve yet to hear anyone say anything other than how much they like the smaller groups vs groups of 20+ people in a class.  We can also boast a pretty awesome outdoor area to workout in.

Q: You’re a homegrown Southolder, right? What was it like growing up out here?

A: It’s one of those things you don’t appreciate until you go somewhere else.  I spent 4 years away from the North Fork, but I didn’t have to be away long to realize that his was my true home.  This place is gorgeous, and I love it.

Q: Doesn’t your family have a print shop too? Was there anything cool about growing up with that business?

A: Yes, Academy Printing is my parents’ business, and it was neat to grow up with. It wasn’t so much the print shop itself though, but rather the building the business was in – a big red school building built in 1867.   The building is very cool. Up in the cupola there are a bunch of initials carved in the wood with things like “class of ’94”, but of course that meant 1894.

Academy Printing Southold New York


Photo Courtesy of Academy Printing

Also the building is home to the Peconic Bay Shopper, which is the local history newspaper, and there’s so much great memorabilia around for a kid into history, particularly local history.

The worst part was I had to do a lot of collating as a kid.

Q:  Speaking of history, Southold is celebrating its 375th Anniversary this year, and some families have been here that long. Is yours one of those?

A: It is! My family has been her for a long time – I am the 13th generation. Thomas Payne emigrated to Salem in 1637 and then his son Peter migrated to Southold in 1640.  I have a framed genealogy on my wall at home with Payne coat of arms.  It might be a little corny, but I’m proud of it.  My father and I have the middle name Payne, and that is a tradition I hope to continue with my family.

Q: As a local with deep roots, do you have an insider tip for visitors that perhaps they wouldn’t otherwise think to do, or see, or experience?

A: Hmmm…Well, there’s a trail I actually helped build, a bird sanctuary that goes off the east side of the Horton’s Point Lighthouse.  Not a lot of people realize it’s there, but it’s open to the public. It has several benches with a bluff view of Connecticut and the sunset.  Definitely worth checking out.