Glenwood Springs club adds Rifle Fitness Center to lineup
Citizen Telegram Editor
Following through on a New Year’s resolution to get healthier and more active could be a little less expensive in Rifle.
If you are — or someone you know is — a gym rat, wants to lose a few pounds or take an exercise class, John Romero will welcome you with open arms as of Jan. 1. That’s when he will officially add the Rifle Fitness Center to his two Exclusive Athletic Club properties in Glenwood Springs.
The nonprofit Rifle Regional Economic Development Corp., which operated the fitness center in the Rifle Commons shopping center next to Walmart for the last two and a half years — with help from the City of Rifle — has reached an agreement to sell the business to Romero for an undisclosed price.
Romero, who grew up in Rifle and lives in Glenwood Springs, is a trained mental health professional and also has a counseling business. Romero has believed there is a strong connection between good mental and physical health.
“I’d tried for several years to partner with some gyms and ended up acquiring the Exclusive [Athletic Club, next to Village Inn in Glenwood Springs],” he said during an interview at the Rifle center on Thursday, Dec. 12.
Romero also purchased The Gym in the Hotel Colorado in Glenwood Springs last year. All three facilities will go by the Exclusive Athletic Club name, he said.
Membership rates will drop from $40 to $45 a month to $35 to $40 a month, Romero said, to be in line with his other facilities.
Michael Langhorne, president of the economic development group, said he met Romero after telling Rifle City Council, at a meeting earlier this year, that the center would be sold.
“John’s mom was watching on the [Rifle Community TV] cable channel and told him about it,” Langhorne recalled. “We always wanted someone local to take it over and someone who was already in the business and could step right in.”
Langhorne said Romero’s business plan and the timing worked out to be the best arrangement.
The economic development group will sublease the center to Romero for the near future and work out the long-term details in the new year, Langhorne added.
“At the end of the day, John will own it,” he said.
The 11,500-square foot center, which includes the adjacent Synergy Gymnastics Academy that is still separately owned, was formerly The Rock fitness center. When that owner decided to close it down, the economic development group stepped in and enlisted the help of the city. The fitness center was also a request from the late Genevieve Clough of Rifle, who donated $1 million to the group to be used for health and wellness needs. Along with the fitness center, the money funded the unsuccessful campaign to pass a sales tax for a recreation center in Rifle.
With the move to sell the center, the City Council redirected all city funds that had previously gone towards the center to other uses in the 2014 city budget.
Romero said his plans for the Rifle facility include making it a 24/7 center, with key card access.
“We want to have a real robust personal training program, like we have in Glenwood, and we’re interviewing staff for those positions,” he said. “We’ll also offer things like Pilates, break dancing and that kind of programming.”
Staffing will be about the same, Romero said, around 10 people, with a few changes to the names and faces.
The popular Silver Sneakers program for senior citizens is planned to continue, if Romero can obtain the needed approvals from the insurance benefit program that oversees it. Corporate membership programs with Garfield School District Re-2 and Grand River Health will also continue, Romero added.
“We’ll do everything we can to preserve all the programs,” he said.
Romero also wants to grow the center’s membership from more than 200 to 500 in the coming year, offer classes outside the center and in the community, and be involved in fitness activities and running events like the Grand River Gallop.
Romero said the center will remain open for the rest of this year and then as the Exclusive Athletic Club on Jan. 1.
“If we do close for a few days, it’s just to do some painting and minor repairs,” he added. “It may be a week.”
“It’s a market that I’ve always wanted to be in,” Romero said. “And it’s a great facility. We’re happy to be here.”
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