Travel is no reason to skip a workout. Michael Gazaleh learned that the first day he took a tourist running in New York. Gazaleh, a chiropractor who works in the New York Personal Training Studio, was doing a favor for the trainers.
"One of their clients hires trainers to be his running guide every time he comes to New York," Gazaleh said. "On one of his visits none of the trainers were available so he asked me."
It wasn't long before Gazaleh turned his chiropractic business into a part-time gig and started City Running Tours. He wanted to combine his passion for running with sightseeing in one of the nation's biggest tourist destinations, New York City.
Although New York's downtown route--which follows the Hudson, winds through Battery Park, the financial district and over the Brooklyn Bridge--is the most popular New York route, Gazaleh says one of his favorites is the Harlem run. "Clients are always surprised to see what Harlem is really like," he says.
In addition to New York, you can find City Running guides in Chicago, San Diego, Washington, D.C., Charleston and Austin. Gazaleh hopes to continue growing nationally and internationally but says you can't just open it anywhere. You need the right combination of visitors, places to run, and interesting things to say about the place and its landmarks.
Every city has preset routes, from the Magnificent National Mall run in D.C. to the Wrigleyville route in Chicago, but guides will customize runs to accommodate clients of any ability and with any interests.
City Running Tours knows that any worthy organized run ends with swag. So if a boardwalk run along the pacific coast in San Diego is not reward enough, every tour includes a T-shirt, a souvenir photo, discounts to local running stores and free product samples. Plus, 10 percent of the total fee is donated to St. Jude's Children's Hospital.
"It's not always about business," says Gazaleh who built the charity program into his company plan from the start. "My grandfather helped raise money to get that charity going back in the 60s. Helping others has always been ingrained in my family."
In addition to running two businesses, Gazaleh runs between 25 and 45 miles each week as a guide. "Fall is peak season for marathons," he says. "Distances get up to 12, 15 and 18 miles this time of year."
City Running Tours attracts a variety of clients, from serious runners that are training and don't want to miss a workout to people who want to get to know the city in a more intimate way. There are also people who just don't want to run alone. So next time you are headed to a city with running tours, don't forget to pack your running shoes.