Major gym chains for years shunned the South Bronx and in just under 6 months Melrose has become the fitness center of the area with the opening of national gym Planet Fitness in late December 2011 and now this past Saturday with the grand opening of Blink Fitness the no frills sibling of the upscale luxury gym, Equinox Fitness.
Like Planet Fitness, Blink Fitness offers an affordable environment to a broader audience with memberships as low as $15 a month – a sharp contrast to its main chain, Equinox which charges roughly $188 per month which comes out to slightly over in one month what a membership at Blink will cost in a year.
For decades, the area only had access to smaller, mom and pop gyms like John’s Boxing Gym, American Fitness and the women’s only gym Lucille Roberts. These gyms are considerably smaller and for an area that had the 3rd highest growth rate in New York City for the 2010 census – could not handle the demand for gyms in the area.
Many local residents, myself included, no longer have to schlep into Manhattan to access such a basic amenity as a gym. I, along with several friends, gave up my costly $90 a month New York Sports Club membership and gladly forked over my money to the gyms that believed in the community.
At Saturday’s grand opening at Blink Fitness, the folks waiting outside for the gym to open its doors was proof enough that they are serving a need and amenity that has long been denied to area residents. During the ribbon cutting ceremony speeches were made by Blink’s management acknowledging the poor state of health in the neighborhood and their commitment to stand alongside the community and fight against this scourge.
Luis Gato Rodríguez, 42, a lifelong Melrose resident and certified personal trainer says that he, “really love the fact that two great gyms opened up in our neighborhood at a price that’s affordable. Me being a personal trainer and The Bronx being a place where there is a lot of obesity I love the fact that people could get into the fitness world.”
Rodriguez has hopes that the quality of life and residents’ health improves. “With these two gyms I strongly believe that in our neighborhood you are going to see more and more fit people.”
Let’s hope we see just that.
Blink Fitness is located 744 St Anns Avenue at East 156th Street.