Brandon and Rebecca Robla saw a niche to fill in the fitness world — and they got to work.
“We found that there’s just a big gap out there for group fitness classes that actually teach people how to lift weights,” Rebecca said. “We go to the big box gyms and I just see a lot of people that look lost. They really don’t know how to lift weights.”
Lifting weights is something the Roblas certainly know how to do.
Rebecca, an Air Force and Sacramento Police Department veteran, was an All-American in track & field and an undefeated karate fighter in the Midwest.
Brandon, a Marine Corps, Air National Guard and Fresno Police Department veteran, was an All-American in water polo.
Both have participated in bodybuilding and physique competitions.
With such extensive athletic backgrounds and passions for fitness, opening a gym was the logical next step.
“For us it’s not just a business, it’s a lifestyle,” said Brandon, a Clovis High School graduate.
Fightgirl Fitness opened near Blackstone and Bullard avenues in Fresno about two years ago, but the Roblas remodeled and reopened the gym in December with a new vision.
“We decided to bring the clients everything we incorporate into our training as athletes: the weights, the cardio and then we integrate our fitness kickboxing,” Rebecca said.
The gym’s trainers follow a workout of the day, so members can come to any class on the schedule and get the same training.
The program mixes weight lifting, high intensity cardio intervals and fitness kickboxing. All of it is taught by trainers with a variety of skillsets.
“We have trainers from all sorts of backgrounds, like crossfit, bodybuilding, physique competitions; we have trainers who play semi-professional football, we have trainers who are professional MMA fighters, we just have this wide talent of trainers,” Rebecca said.
The Roblas found such a huge success with their female clientele that they decided to stop cutting out a demographic.
“We’re about family fitness and we want other couples and families to work out together,” Rebecca said.
The problem, they found, was men don’t want to pay people to teach them how to lift weights, Brandon said.
“That was my job is to bridge that gap and show guys there’s nothing wrong with not knowing everything,” he said. “You go to the professional. We are professional at what we do and we incorporate a lot of people who are professional at what they do and that brings a lot of experience to the table. That drives the uniqueness that our program has that you’re not going to find at any other gym.”
Their co-ed gym, Urban Block, opened March 14 at 2141 Shaw Ave., Suite 108 in Clovis.
A second Urban Block in Fresno’s Figarden Loop is being remodeled and will open later this year, Rebecca said.
Class sizes are kept intentionally small — up to 15 at Fightgirl Fitness and as many as 18 at Urban Block, Rebecca said. A gym management app is used to reserve classes.
“I cannot have 40 people in here,” Rebecca said. “None of our trainers can coach 40 people on how to do a proper squat without injury or messing it up.”
The trainers get to know their clients and make modifications to the workout for beginners — or add weights to challenge more advanced athletes.
The clients get to know each other, as well, and many have already formed a tight-knit, supportive community.
“Our community is second only to a church — and maybe sometimes we can give them a run for their money,” Brandon said. “This environment is actually better suited for the success of an individual, not because of me, but because of all the people around them. When you have a trainer, it’s one person that’s there to motivate you, but when you have a group training session, everybody is focused on the same thing: fitness and that lifestyle. The success rate just skyrockets because everybody is pushing everybody.”
Clients come in with different fitness goals, but the majority want to lose weight and tone up, Brandon said.
“Everybody has those aesthetic goals, but there is more to it than just the aesthetic portion; there are the cardiovascular, the skeletal and the muscular portions,” he said. “ Another thing we’re big on is mobility, flexibility and body mechanics.”
Classes are just 45 minutes.
“That is all it takes,” Brandon said, noting they did personal training sessions with existing members to see if hour-long or 45-minute classes worked better.
“We amped up the intensity of the workouts,” he said. “That 45 minutes was all it took. Those people were wearing Fitbits and the 45 minutes burned the same amount of calories as the hour. The shorter classes allowed the Roblas to serve more members.
Membership is unlimited and can be used at Fightgirl Fitness or Urban Block for a monthly fee. Discounts for military, first responders, students and families are available.
A two-week trial membership is $67 and includes a 14-day meal plan and unlimited classes.
“We know that if we can get them over here to try it out, we have such a unique brand that they’re going to come back.”
A six-week transformation challenge starts May 16. Visit www.urbanblockfitness.com or call (559) 681-3619 for details and registration. The Roblas can also be reached at UrbanBlockFitness@gmail.com.