Fitness has always been deeply ingrained in Amber Pagano’s life. Back when her mom used to helm the check-in at Sag Harbor’s former American Fitness Factory, she’d plunk a car-seated baby Amber on the front desk to help her greet the East End’s exercising masses.
“To this day, people are like, that was you!” laughs the Sag Harbor native, who just opened a brand-new fitness studio, ActivatedWellness, in Shelter Island Heights, bringing her well-honed wellness skill set and infectious energy to the island.
Activated Wellness opened April 29 at 13 Grand Avenue, the new sun-drenched fitness studio aimed at bringing well-rounded fitness and overall health to eastern Long Islanders.
Pagano is offering both classes and private sessions, billed as strength training but which go far and beyond that simple description. “It’s strength training—we do weight lifting and a lot of band work, too,” she says, “but I put a lot of emphasis on breath and correctives and muscle activations and really ignite and activate the body.”
All of it comes from the different aspects of Pagano’s life that have influenced her fitness strategy. Spiritual by nature, she’s long been devoted to meditation, yoga and Eastern philosophy, and is also a licensed massage therapist, giving her keen insight into the structure and mechanics of the body (and how to fix what ails you). “I bring a lot of those modalities into the training sessions as well.”
As Pagano likes to say, she basically embodies your body.
“If you tell me you have pain somewhere, I can visualize the structure and mechanics of it. I do a lot of help for people with issues like back pain—a lot of the private work I’ve done has been helping people post-rehab, the physical therapy aspect of things,” she says. “The stretching, the mobility, the stability and the strengthening, lengthening and activating. I mix it all together!”
Her first studio opened in July 2022 in Riverhead, but Pagano’s mind-body-spirit combo of techniques became so popular, that she quickly outgrew the 150-square-foot space. “As soon as I got in there, I already knew I outgrew it,” she says.
A client based on Shelter Island kept urging her to move her business further east and, when the Grand Avenue space opened up, to seriously consider it. She was comfortable running her new business in the Riverhead space, but its constraints became hard to ignore
“I was a deer in headlights!” she laughs, “but I was like, alright, let me go look at it. I walked in and was like, this is it. A space can really represent your mindset, and my mind is very clear and airy and sunny and bright, and that’s what this space is. My client who was urging me to move my business here said to me: This space represents you.”
Pagano plans to keep her 60-minute classes, which cost $55 per session, small—no more than 5 people, as much for practical reasons as that she wants to be able to give the right amount of attention to her clients.”
“It gives that more intimate feeling because what I do is more like mind-body-soul.”
There’s an Activated Wellness app where you can sign up for the never-boring classes, which are filled with free weights, a Turpin, ropes, an assault bike, skier, dumbbells and other pieces of brand-new equipment to help Pagano get you not just into shape, but into feeling like your best self.
“You don’t want to have fear working out—I want to bring a very positive experience to group fitness classes or personal training sessions. I really hone-in that; I want everyone to feel really secure.”
To start, Activated Wellness is open Tuesday and Thursday with classes at 8:15 a.m., 9:30 a.m., 5:15 p.m. and 6:30 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 8:15 a.m. and 9:30 a.m., but check back for updates as Pagano is thinking of adding a few more slots.
“I’m definitely bringing that flexibility to this and tailoring to the summer crowd!”