Fitness Coach and Owner, BuildEmUp: Age 29
One of the many people who nominated Emily Banerjee for the 40 Under Forty class of 2023 called her “the living model of leading by example.”
That’s because Banerjee grew up in Springfield, earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from Elms College, then stayed in the area “to motivate and inspire folks of all demographics,” the nominator wrote.
She does so through BuildEmUp, her health and wellness business focused on personal training and group classes. With hundreds of clients, Banerjee’s reputation is growing as a coach and trainer, but also as a compassionate business owner who responds enthusiastically to community needs.
Like a project she spearheaded this past holiday season to collect $13,000 worth of clothes, toys, and necessities and donate them to women and children through the YWCA. She has also spearheaded projects that have resulted in large monetary donations to diabetes organizations, friends with cancer, and other recipients.
But Banerjee doesn’t have to look outside the walls of her fitness center to change lives; she’s doing that every week through a business she started thinking about while working for Baystate Health after graduation, gradually building up a clientele through social media and word of mouth.
“Our model is strong, not skinny,” she said, explaining a model that’s less about weight lost and more about strength — and quality of life — gained. “Being healthy is the bottom line; everyone can understand that.”
During the pandemic, Banerjee offered virtual training to her clients so they could continue living the healthiest life they could. After things started to open back up, she brought clients back to the gym but made sure it was a safe environment for everyone, with individual pods so that members could work out in the same room with confidence.
These days, her average demographic is ages 18 to 50, and most are minority women. She offers about 20 different class times a week, and is already thinking down the road to a possible move out of the ninth floor of 1350 Main St. in downtown Springfield to a larger, more accessible location for clients. After all, they’re what motivates her to be her best self.
“The best part about this is the people,” Banerjee said. “They come to us because they want to; it’s a choice to enter the gym with a positive attitude, and that’s good for me, too. Empowered women empowering women — that’s the goal.”