Marisa Nuñez, Marisa Hair, Long Island City, NY

Michele Gretano

Bridge and Tunnel Fitness

Queens, New York

“Making a difference in people’s lives is amazing.” –Michele Gretano


When Michele had moved back to New York City to be near her family, she found herself feeling trapped in a series of jobs she hated. Exhausting commutes and unbearable office environments lead Michele to feeling unhappy and hopeless. “I cried on the subway in the morning because I didn’t want to go to work.” Michele was doing finance work at hotels, but her passion lay in the fitness industry. At the gym she attended, she met Anthony, who told her about his plans to open a gym. Initially, Michele volunteered to help Anthony with the finance and business planning elements, but the more she told him about how much she hated her job, the more he was able to convince her to quit. “It was the first time I had quit without another job, and it was the best thing ever. It was like a huge burden was lifted from my shoulders.”

A few months later, Bridge and Tunnel Fitness opened in Ridgewood, Queens to immediately positive results. “We would sell a membership to every single person who walked in.” Yet despite carefully planning out their expenses, Michele and Anthony found themselves in a financial bind when they were presented with a permit for their space that they hadn’t known about previously. The permit’s requirements were tedious and complex, requiring a substantial amount of capital in order to meet their standards. Michele was referred to Ascendus by her banker at Chase Bank and with the loan they received, they were able to pay off a substantial amount of the permit. “Our loan consultant was very on top of everything. He guided us through every step of the application process.”


Previously shy and closed-off, Michele has learned to let her gregarious personality shine by following in her partner Anthony’s lead and continuing to work intimately with clients. “One of our biggest priorities is bringing people out of their shells. I make it that when people fall, they laugh. Three years ago I could never have done that.” But Michele’s impact goes beyond helping her clients have a sense of humor, her business has brought irreversible, sometimes life-saving change to its members. “We have clients whose sleep problems have finally been cured, clients who now have mobility they never expected to regain in their lives, and client whose health issues have finally gone away.”

As Bridge and Tunnel Fitness and the neighborhood surrounding it continue to grow and evolve, Michele intends to continue prioritizing the needs of the customers, particularly the more atypical members, with future programs for both children and elderly adults. With four coaches other than herself and Anthony, Michele wants the gym to be seen as more than just a gym, but a neighborhood center for wellness. She explained that above everything, it’s the individuals that make running her business so worthwhile. “Making a difference in people’s lives is amazing.”

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