John Armatas identified Abilene early on when expanding his growing fitness empire into West Texas. While opening a Crunch Fitness in the city took Armatas and his business partner slightly longer than Amarillo and Lubbock, which have had their clubs for roughly a year, he knew it would eventually come to be. Reality set in Thursday
John Armatas identified Abilene early on when expanding his growing fitness empire into West Texas.
While opening a Crunch Fitness in the city took Armatas and his business partner slightly longer than Amarillo and Lubbock, which have had their clubs for roughly a year, he knew it would eventually come to be.
Reality set in Thursday during his $3 million investment’s open house, as pre-registered clients and walk-ins both toured the former Hastings at 4709 S. 14th Street.
Abilene was finally open for business.
Crunching the numbers
“When we were expanding and identifying locations in Texas we thought about opening a gym, Abilene was one of three places we identified,” Armatas said. “It’s a great community.”
And it’s certainly a great, big gym to fit the great community.
Taking over the Hastings spot, the gym was afforded a large box store now converted into a big box gym. Multiple rows of cardio machines and ceiling-suspended televisions line the west side of the space, where locker rooms — complete with showers, a sauna and scale for the dedicated weight watcher — child care and a spinning area, called “The Ride” are located.
Jack Williams strains on the rope trainer. “It was hard,” he said after he was done; it should have been because he had the resistance setting at 7, which is labeled “hard.” (Photo: Greg Jaklewicz)
Colorful messages of inspiration adorn the walls, encouraging a popular company mentality of “No Judgments” and to be their best self.
Along the back, the club offers personal training and group fitness, complete with punching bags, TRX suspension ropes and a workout floor for the latest Zumba or yoga classes.
“Crunch is known for its group exercise,” Armatas said.”It started out being a gym for the stars in Los Angeles and New York because they could go in, do their yoga (or other group fitness classes) and get out.”
But a gym is really only as good as its weigh- lifting operation, where struggle builds strength.Crunch offers several of each type of machine or platform in the center and east portions of its building. Need to bench press? Crunch has several, both in free wights and using cables.
Leg press, too.
The same can be said for squats, rows, and pectoral flies. It’s all available.
It was built; will they come?
When the club finally opened Friday after months of online anticipation had built since first announcing the club this past spring, there were plenty who sought to try out what was available.
Lillie Bartholomew, for example, who took advantage of convenience to fit in a lunch-time workout.
Bartholomew joined because Crunch is directly across the street from her workplace.
“I can come in on my lunch breaks,” she said, taking a break from her weight-lifting routine. “It’s easy to get here and work out.”
Friday’s first workout at the new gym had her test out the 30-minute routine the gym calls its “Power Half Hour Circuit Training. Any veteran of Planet Fitness or Curves knows the drill. It’s a 30-minute timed workout experience during which each machine in a circuit is visited for a short, but intense, workout before moving on.
While proximity got her in the door, she said she is impressed with the new club. The showers passed inspection and the equipment, while shiny, also was easy to understand and use.
Dyllan Fernandez, who lives in Abilene while serving in the Air Force, said he joined Friday looking for a change of scenery from his former gym.
He, too, was impressed with they gym’s layout and gave high marks to its abdominal workout area.
“They’ve got some stuff they don’t have at other gyms in the city,” Fernandez said.
Armatas said Crunch provides its membership a fresh place they can come to get what they need. It’s about offering variety so everyone can get their desired work in before, during or after their day.
It’s his way of helping make a difference, both by offering a little inspiration and a healthy option, but also by encouraging strong, healthy decisions that help reduce healthcare costs in a time when insurance rates are skyrocketing across the country.
“If you’re not here to make a difference in people’s lives, you’re in the wrong business,” Armatas said. “But if you look at the fitness industry in general … the key to success is waking up, getting your shoes on, getting in the car and getting in the gym. We need to get people to exercise. There’s only a small segment of the population who sticks with it.”
Eventually, Armatas said, he’d like to see about 8,000 to 10,000 memberships. It’s a good percentage of Abilene.