The overcast sky didn’t cloud the attendants’ spirits at the fourth annual ROK Health and Fitness Summer Kickoff Barbecue. The barbecue, the owners said, was created to appreciate ROK’s members.
“It’s a way we get to give back to the members,” co-owner Michael Hawksby said of the event. “It’s a relaxed atmosphere and the members of the club get to talk to each other.”
Bob D’Urso, the other co-owner, said that giving the members a chance to interact with one another adds to ROK’s family-like atmosphere and outside of the gym setting. “It’s a way to feel connected. “You go to a club and everything’s very cold and very sanitary, there’s no relationship,” he said. “This makes it feel like you’re part of the family. We want people to feel like they’re part of the ROK family.”
That notion was received by the 100 or so attendants at the barbecue. Pat Milillo, who works at the gym, said the appreciation barbecue gives ROK an advantage over other gyms in the area. “It’s very important that they do this,” she said. “There’s a lot of gyms out there. This is more of a home gym. It’s not so corporate. I love working here.”
Jed Kay, who was at the barbecue, said that the event lets the other members know that the owners do appreciate all the members. “For a lot of people, this is like their second home,” he said, adding, “For the owners to do this, it’s very gracious of them.”
Club members and their families gathered in the parking lot behind the club, with caterers grilling hamburgers, hot dogs and sausages with a platter of chicken wings at the food table. Next to the grill, there was also a bar for those who wanted drinks and DJ Derick Oliver provided the crowd with music for the evening and gave the members the opportunity to entertain the crowd with karaoke.
Hawksby and D’Urso said that the idea came to them as they were starting to build ROK. The first appreciation barbecue was held in the summer of 2011 at The Fishery, which is now The Reel, before moving to the lot behind ROK.
D’Urso also said that the owners also host a Christmas party near the holidays to also appreciate the members. “Twice a year we like to show our appreciation and give a little back to our people,” he said.