Less than four years ago, laid up while recovering from a motorcycle accident that left his shoulder shredded, Leo Vassershteyn made the leap of a lifetime.

The longtime San Francisco personal trainer was on Craigslist, looking to buy some fitness equipment, and saw real estate agent and trainer Gary Ferroni’s listing to sell his Mill Valley Personal Fitness business at 34 Sunnyside Avenue.

After some due diligence, Vassershteyn decided that was the moment to launch his own business in a brand new market.

“It was scary, “Vassershteyn says. “I had no clients. I didn’t know anybody here. I left my business in the city, and with the exception of a few clients, most weren’t able to come across the bridge with me.”

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Born in Odessa, Ukraine, Vassershteyn moved with his family as a child to the Bay Area in the aftermath of the collapse of the Soviet Union. He attended Sequoia High School in Redwood City and, like many grads, wasn’t sure exactly what his next step was. He was a gym rat and began doing some personal training, a job that brought a good wage and provided the flexibility he needed to start taking college classes at the same time.

Along the way, he realized that the way he’d been earning a living while he figured out a long-term was that long-term plan.

“I have an exceptional talent and passion for this, so I decided to go for it,” Vassershteyn says.

As he built up his practice, Vassershteyn transferred to UC-Davis, garnering a degree in psychology and exercise biology. He moved to San Francisco and spent several years at Crunch Fitness and as an independent personal trainer.

When he made that leap to Mill Valley, those first few months were harrowing. But Vassershteyn stuck to his mantra: no gimmicks. He refused to offer clients the promise of a quick road to fitness.

“I’m really well trained in all modalities and I will adjust your program so that you get the most optimal results for the time that you out in – but you have to be ready to put the time in,” he says.

Like the fitness programs he espouses, Vassershteyn’s own work building his business paid off, as Mill Valley Personal Fitness was in the black within four months. Now Vassershteyn is looking for a new space that can accommodate his growth.

“It’s been a fantastic run so far,” he says.

The 411: Mill Valley Personal Fitness is at 34 Sunnyside. More info.



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