Ari Zorn displays BerkShares notes outside of Zorn Core Fitness. Photo courtesy Schumacher Center for a New Economics

BerkShares Business of the Month: Zorn Core Fitness and Devine

The classically trained chef-turned-athletic personal trainer has a deep respect for nature and has committed his personal and professional life to helping others utilize nature as a tool for well-being.

Egremont — During times of stress, some people turn to their friends and family, seek professional support, or push through discomfort. Ari Zorn’s coping mechanism is saving turtles. The classically trained chef-turned-athletic personal trainer has a deep respect for nature and has committed his personal and professional life to helping others utilize nature as a tool for well-being. For Ari, mental health goes hand in hand with fitness. He describes his approach at Zorn Core Fitness as healing work, saying that in order to help someone with their fitness goals, he needs to understand their motivations and life circumstances. He uses basic equipment like free weights, medicine balls and bands to focus on core strength and teaches proper form through one-on-one personal training sessions.

His competitive advantage in the saturated Berkshire fitness community is his no-gimmicks, personalized approach. It’s also what helped him navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. Since Zorn Core Fitness is not a typical gym, Ari was able to provide training sessions in person (at a safe distance!) and through Zoom on a limited basis. He also took the opportunity to focus on launching his new business, Devine.

Ari and his wife, Heidi, a local chiropractor, founded Devine to bring their experience in holistic wellness to the cannabis industry. They received their preliminary license from the Cannabis Control Commission to open a retail shop in South Egremont and plan to offer CBD products. The CCC stipulates the creation of various social equity and economic empowerment opportunities for communities of color that have been disproportionately impacted by cannabis-related arrests and incarceration; applying to these programs is rigorous and time-intensive. Fulfilling those requirements isn’t about checking a box, Ari said, but about doing the right thing for the community. He is particularly proud of his involvement with the local NAACP chapter, where he serves on the Black Economic Council and helped to create a life skills and training program for young people of color called Sessions.

Ari and Heidi are leveraging a crowdfunding platform that allows their neighbors to invest directly in Devine starting at $100. Ari sees this approach as an opportunity to open a conversation about building and reinvesting wealth in a new way. He has the same mentality about facilitating transparency in our economy in all sectors, citing BerkShares as a creative way to generate local economic activity.

Not only will individuals benefit from their investment, but funds will also be reinvested in community-based initiatives and organizations like Friends of Smiley’s Pond, to which Ari attributes his reawakening. One day as he was walking by the pond, the changing landscape of which he had observed over the years, he noticed turtles caught in the riprap below. Without hesitation he leapt onto the rocks to save them. In the midst of a negative world, Ari said saving the turtles was like “saving himself.” That sentiment carried over into other aspects of his life and changed his course; instead of merely talking about the things he wanted to do, he began to walk the walk. He concluded, “It’s exhausting, but I sleep well at night and know I’m a good person. I don’t plan on stopping.”