Amateur Sports: Perry O’Hearn and Philly Phitness Unconventionally Find Success

Philly Phitness provides not only a space to receive one-on-one training sessions but a place for trainers to establish their businesses by being an alternative to franchised gyms. Perry O’Hearn is the owner of the unconventional gym, located at 130 S. 17th St., and he has taken an unconventional path to achieve his goals.

O’Hearn received his bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering but it took a major motorcycle accident for the former engineer to realize his unhappiness with his career choices.

“When I was 22, I was in a pretty severe motorcycle accident,” said O’Hearn. “I was lucky enough to walk away but it left me with the realization life is too fragile and short to continue along a path that doesn’t leave you fulfilled and happy.”

Philly Phitness owner Perry O'Hearn practices what he preaches completing a pull-up.
Philly Phitness owner Perry O’Hearn practices what he preaches completing a pull-up.

O’Hearn’s gamble has paid dividends as Philly Phitness continues to grow economically and socially. His approach to personal training has led the gym rapid success.

“I believe one-on-one training is the optimum way to approach fitness” said O’Hearn. “Our gym is an approximately 2,000-square-foot facility and we have a maximum of five people working at one time, all with their own trainers. This allows for sessions to maintain privacy and clients to feel comfortable, unlike the overcrowded corporate gyms.”

Philly Phitness employs a plethora of highly-qualified trainers who are establishing their own businesses.

“I view each of my clients like a puzzle,” said trainer Patrick Henigan, owner of Recovery Fitness, . “Each one is unique, each needing the correct pieces to be put in place to reach their full potential.”

Patrick Henigan, owner of Recovery FItness, prepares to do a push-up.
Patrick Henigan, owner of Recovery FItness, prepares to do a push-up.

Henigan and other Philly Phitness trainers are examples of O’Hearns business model in practice.

“My business model has two main goals,” said O’Hearn. “The first goal is to provide a space where clients can receive highy quality personal training sessions in a quiet, private and exclusive environment. The second is to help trainers grow and establish their businesses. Gyms poorly compensate, leaving trainers to train in people’s homes and struggle to provide quality sessions due to lack of equipment.”

O’Hearn’s path has been one that not many have traveled. However, electrical engineering was not fulfilling his life and O’Hearn feels the most important thing is happiness.

“If you are truly unhappy, it will wear you down in the long run,” said O’Hearn. “Happiness is the only true currency.”

 – Text and images by Vicki Kistler and Jake Cleary.


  1. Perry is a snake in the grass. His company offers nothing differently than any other studio in Philly. The facility is small, cramped, and not ideal for anyone looking to really challenge their fitness levels. I will admit one thing Perry does well: sell himself like a gem. Great marketer, terrible person.

  2. I had the fortune of training with Perry O’Hearn for 6 months this past year. Last summer I was 235 lbs and now I am 160. One-on-one training is truly where it’s at! Their location at 17th and Sansom is convenient and somehow the space is open and airy yet private. I never felt self concious, even when I was a 215lb, twenty something woman. I never felt the creepy or judgemental eyes on me like I feel at box gyms. Philly Phitness will make you strong and make you look good. If you, like me, are into that you must give them a try.

  3. Totally agree with Bob. Philly Phitness tries to pride itself on the fact they give you discounts on fitness apparel and services. I’d rather just have a trainer who knew what they were doing. Perry is more interested in growing his business than he is in his clients’ results. He tries to use clients to leverage himself instead of giving them what they want. If you can’t post a review on Yelp or Facebook for him or if you’re not an influential Philadelphian, you’re useless to him. I also find him extremely unprofessional in how he is dating one of his “employees” and the fact that he actually dated a friend of a friend of mine and called her a “fat cow.” Great attitude when you’re dealing with people with image problems. In the end, he’s an average trainer who is in love with himself which helps him sell himself and market himself very well.

    Oh yeah, 2000 square feet? I don’t buy it. The studio feels a lot smaller and it has random old equipment in it.

  4. Perry is an amazing training! and philly phitness does a great job of working with clients based on their needs and skill sets. Yes the space is on the smaller side but you dont need a lot of space when its only you and the trainer! I have to strongly disagree with kelly, just because someone is trying to build their brand and asks you to write a yelp or facebook post doesn’t mean they are using you, they are asking for your HElP! Also, who perry is dating has nothing to do with his capabilities to run a business or be a good trainer. Its not like anything inappropriate was going on in front of clients. And Bob I agree, perry is a gem! He decided to do something no other gym was doing and its working because he works hard to get his name out there, make friends with local businesses and hires the top trainers….so kudos to perry and the philly phitness team. #hatersgonnahate

  5. Ashley,
    How is he doing what no other gym is doing? He’s renting out space to other trainers. There are several gyms that do this but of course Perry would have you believe he’s the only one. His trainers are no more qualified than any other gym. They have questionable certifications at best because any highly qualified trainer would want more money and hurt his profit margin. Asking you to only write a review is not using you, you’re correct. But only taking about your business while you’re training someone is using you. How about helping me make better decisions on food instead of asking me if I know any other friends who would train or asking me to write 10 reviews?

  6. Hi Kelly and Bob,

    This is Perry, the owner of Philly Phitness, first of all I would like to say thank you for reading the article that was written. It appears you are both very intimate with my business as well as my personal life. You have made it clear that I have disappointed you and fallen short of the expectations that were given – for that I apologize. As a young entrepreneur I am constantly pushing my own limits and trying to learn on the fly. This does have it’s drawbacks because sometimes I make mistakes and that will unfortunately effect people who have trusted me and seek my services, whether they are trainers or clients. I try to always welcome criticism and feedback and seek guidance from people who are more successful than myself.

    Though I appreciate your time and effort in providing feedback, you have made some factual errors in your comments. I won’t address them all in an impersonal forum such as this, but I will give one example. You stated:

    “They have questionable certifications at best because any highly qualified trainer would want more money and hurt his profit margin. ”

    This is an impossibility. There is no circumstance in which a trainer increasing their rate would decrease the amount Philly Phitness, or any gym for that matter, would ‘profit’.
    Logic: A gym can take a commission from it’s trainers in two ways, flat rate or %. If a gym charges a fixed rate, any increase by the trainer would have no impact on the gym’s revenue. If the gym takes a percentage, any increase by the trainer would actually increase the gym’s revenue. Either way the gym makes the exact same or increases profits… Again – there is no real life example of when a trainer increases their rate that it would result in a decrease of profits for Philly Phitness or even a corporate gym.

    Nevertheless, I can tell you have had an overall bad experience in dealing with me and Philly Phitness as a whole. I would love an opportunity to sit down with you, whether it is at Philly Phitness or possibly your business location, so I could try and learn how I can avoid these mistakes from happening in the future.

    Below is my personal contact information – please feel free to reach out to me if you are willing to speak in person about your disappointment and hopefully give me a chance to grow both personally and with my business.

    Cell: 267-644-8034

    Thank you,

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