Here's a stunning fact: There isn't one adult gym in the heart of North Minneapolis.
The southern tip of Minneapolis' north side features a YMCA for people over 55 and The Firm, both of which are south of Olson Memorial Hwy. But that's it, except for hand-to-hand combat at "Doc's Gym" on Penn Ave. (The YMCA on West Broadway is just for youths and teens).
That is, until later this year when an Anytime Fitness opens on West Broadway. The opening will be a landmark for area's largest commercial corridor, which continues to struggle despite loads of attention from City Hall.
The new gym is thanks to the work of chiropractor Tara Watson, who convinced the Hastings-based company to take a risk and let her open a 24-hour, 5,000-square-foot franchise near the intersection of West Broadway and Penn Ave.
Watson, who owns the tornado-damaged building and operates her practice next door, said obesity is a problem in the area but residents have few means to combat it.
"Their doctors say, 'Well you need to exercise. They don't know what do to. They don't have a place to do it," Watson said.
Council Member Don Samuels, who represents the area, heaped praise on Watson's pursuit of the project.
"It is just incredible that a woman with dedication and an area of focus and committment to a community can create this first-time facility in North Minneapolis," Samuels said.
He said the project has "huge" significance because it is responding to the demographic "rather than the reputation" of the community. And for an area that has struggled to attract sit-down restaurants, a gym is all the more necessary.
"Fifteen to 16 fast food restaurants and no means to go work out somewhere, what a deadly combination. And so this is just something that is begging to happen. I'm just pleased that Tara is doing it."
Watson said when she approached Anytime Fitness about the gym, they were unaware of many revitalization efforts that have helped boost the West Broadway area.
"It's changed quite a bit -- I would say over the last five years," Watson said.
She expects the gym to be open by the end of the year -- it still has to clear some hurdles at City Hall. It will have most of the normal accouterments, including weights and cardio machines, in addition to group classes. She's unsure of the membership price, though she knows it will be under $50 a month.
North Minneapolis has had a tumultuous past with fitness centers. Several years ago a developer heralded plans to build a 122,000 square foot YWCA along West Broadway, but YWCA pulled out when the developer couldn't raise enough money.