CLEVELAND, Ohio — Above a row of new restaurants on West 10th Street and below the region’s first Aloft hotel, construction workers are building another layer of theFlats East Bank project: An unusual fitness center that’s part gym, part weight-management clinic and part spa.
The East Bank Fitness Club, set to open by Oct. 1, will offer everything from bootcamp to Botox, making it the first downtown Cleveland workout facility with nutrition programs, hormone-replacement therapy, meal-planning and facials supervised by physicians. That mix, and the membership cost — $55 to $195 a month — is generating buzz among fitness buffs and downtown gym owners who have heard about the club’s pitches to major employers.
“When you walk in, it’s more like a boutique hotel than a gym,” John Fortuna, a local chiropractor who owns the club, said during a recent tour.
Far from finished, the 17,000-square-foot space looks over railroad tracks and the Cuyahoga River, with an outdoor deck for relaxation and yoga facing the Detroit-Superior — or Veterans Memorial — Bridge. Three group-exercise rooms, facing the river and Lake Erie, will host spinning, pilates, Zumba, kickboxing and an array of yoga classes, from basic to aerial.
Fortuna, who owns Ohio Injury Centers and is the director of chiropractic medicine at St. Vincent Charity Medical Center, sees the marriage of fitness and anti-aging programs as both logical and profitable. He’s targeting executives where they work and reaching out to the growing share of companies with corporate wellness programs, money-saving efforts that reward or penalize workers based on their ability to meet health goals.
The East Bank club plans to cap membership at 3,000 people, Fortuna said.
The cheapest memberships include access to fitness equipment, locker rooms, saunas, a steam room, basic exercise classes and two hours of free parking. The costliest memberships involve unlimited attendance to intense conditioning and training classes, such as CrossFit, HumanSport and TRX Suspension Training.
Two doctors will oversee weight-loss and anti-aging programs. Dr. Jeff Romig, who focuses on nutrition and holistic medicine, expects to spend a few days a week at the East Bank club, where he’ll manage hormone-replacement therapy and what he calls “aesthetic medicine” — clearing up wrinkles, varicose veins, dirty pores and excess hair.
Dr. Kevin Huffman, an expert on obesity, will supervise the club’s weight-loss and maintenance programs. On top of setting up plans for gym members looking to shed a few pounds, he hopes to work with patients who need to follow an exercise regimen before and after weight-loss surgery.
Aside from a basic diet plan, these services won’t be included in a club membership. And the costs will vary widely.
“It’s not a traditional gym,” said Adam Fishman of Fairmount Properties, which is developing the Flats East Bank project with Scott and Iris Wolstein. “I think you have to offer today’s consumer a broader array of health-oriented opportunities and options to draw them in.”
In downtown Cleveland, the East Bank club’s early marketing efforts are provoking curiosity and some anxiety at other gyms. But with FitWorks at the 5th Street Arcades set to close Sept. 7, there will be roughly 2,500 people looking for a new place to exercise.
“Probably because of the closing of FitWorks, we’re not going to see a huge decrease,” said Adriana Skowron, the manager of Titans Gym on Prospect Avenue. “We’re not expecting it, anyway, because of our location. A lot of residential areas are right here, by us.
“I think the thing with the downtown gyms, including ourselves, is that a lot of them are housed within buildings that already existed or corporate buildings,” she said. “They’re not built from the ground up. A lot of them don’t have more than basic amenities.”
Membership at the YMCA of Greater Cleveland is holding steady, and the downtown branch is banking on a bump in traffic when it leaves its longtime Prospect Avenue home for a 40,000-square-foot space at the Galleria.
Rick Haase, the YMCA’s vice president of marketing, said the downtown branch has more than 3,400 members and aims to hit 6,000 after it moves. The YMCA is still fundraising and hopes to open the new downtown facility in late 2014.
“Northeast Ohio’s health and wellness market is incredibly competitive, and it has been for quite some time,” Haase said. “It’s fair to say we’re doing well. Some branches are better than others, but anytime someone else enters into the marketplace, that makes it more difficult.”