The first of at least three new fitness clubs planned to serve the growing number of residents in downtown Fresno, and the people who work in the city’s core, will open in time to fill New Year’s resolutions to get fit and trim.
Fitness 365, a block north of Xcelerate, on the ground floor of the Fresno Housing Authority’s CityView building, will soon follow. And the old YMCA building on N Street, near Fresno Superior Court, could reopen next year after a full remodel.
A CrossFit gym is also considering a spot downtown, said Aaron Blair, president and chief executive officer of the Downtown Fresno Partnership. In November, Heartbeat Boxing, a boxing and fitness gym, opened on Van Ness Avenue just south of downtown Fresno.
“These are the types of amenities that we have to add to downtown” after getting residents down there, Blair said.
These are the types of amenities that we have to add to downtown.
Aaron Blair, president and CEO Downtown Fresno Partnership
A burst of downtown housing activity in the last two years, spearheaded by the Assemi family in the Mural District and aided by other private and nonprofit developers, has driven the number of new downtown housing units up to 800, according to the downtown partnership. More than 40,000 people work in downtown Fresno, the agency said.
Residents were polled to see what kinds of businesses they want to see downtown, and a gym came out on top, Blair said. While there have been individuals conducting fitness classes and organizing small meet-ups downtown, there has not been an official gym, he said. “The business owners are seeing that there’s a need.”
Bitwise founders approached Cheri Bertelsen and her business partners, Kevin and Ann Hiedeman, with an opportunity to open a small gym in Fresno’s new technology center.
“They wanted a gym but didn’t know how to run it,” Bertelsen said. “I originally said no. We really didn’t want to break into a new market, especially Fresno.”
Bertelsen and the Hiedemans opened their first Xcelerate location 10 years ago in Reedley, then followed with two more in Selma and Dinuba. Their business model is to open in small communities not served by big-box gyms.
“But because (Bitwise) was such a unique situation, we decided it did fit us well,” Bertelsen said. “It was reaching a niche that maybe wouldn’t be reached otherwise.”
Xcelerate Fitness Underground is a 2,000-square-foot fitness center for Bitwise tenants and the public. Cardiovascular equipment, free weights and machines are available.
The Underground is 2,000 square feet, compared with the typical Xcelerate gym at nearly 13,000 square feet. The 24-hour, seven-days-a-week gym is open to Bitwise tenants and the public. It has cardiovascular equipment, free weights and machines. Showers are available for downtown employees who work out during the day and want to clean up before going back to work.
The gym’s small size won’t allow aerobics classes to be conducted, but “we are going to look into monthly hosting a class or something” in other space within the building, Bertelsen said. Personal training is available.
The father and daughter team of Darryl Phillips and Taylor Phillips is behind Fitness 365 at the corner of Van Ness and Inyo Street. The 3,000-square-foot urban fitness gym, also open 24 hours for residents and the public, will provide commercial weight and cardiovascular equipment for users. Personal training is available but no aerobics classes or showers. The gym is geared to downtown residents.
“We want to be a big part of downtown revitalization,” Darryl Phillips said.
Fitness 365 is a 3,000-square-foot gym with weight machines, cardiovascular equipment and personal training.
Taylor Phillips came up with the business idea, which was a semifinalist in the downtown partnership’s Create Here Business Plan Competition. The Sunnyside High School alum and California State University, Northridge, graduate heard about the movement to revitalize downtown and said: “We should put something down there to help people get healthy,” said Darryl Phillips, who was in the military, where fitness became a big part of the family’s life.
“We want people to have no excuse” to work out, Phillips said. “We’re open 24 hours a day. We have keyless entry.”
On N Street, the former YMCA building will be remodeled by the Fresno County Impact Group into the future home of Downtown Fitness, Paula Lloyd reported in November. The building, which closed in 2009, had basketball courts, a swimming pool, massage rooms and an atrium that all fell into disrepair when the YMCA tried to compete with other gyms in north Fresno.
A grand opening is targeted for January 2017. The new gym will feature weight training, exercise classes, mixed martial arts and a full-size basketball court.
Asked whether three gyms – four, if the boxing center counts – is too many for the small downtown area, Blair says he looks at it as “allowing the businesses to compete.”
“Walgreens always builds next to CVS,” Blair said. “I’m more about letting the private sector bring the (services) in. We don’t need 40 gyms, but if they all make it, then yes (bring them).”