Bob Shallit

Discount fitness chain pumps up Sacramento-area presence

The new Fitness Evolution gym at Florin and Power Inn roads has about 300 pieces of workout equipment.
The new Fitness Evolution gym at Florin and Power Inn roads has about 300 pieces of workout equipment.

A fitness chain with discount pricing is turning a south Sacramento “eyesore” into a state-of-the-art workout facility as part of an aggressive expansion in this region.

Fitness Evolution this week signed a lease to occupy the long vacant, former bowling center site at Florin Road and 24th Street. It’s the eighth local center either open or scheduled to be opened by the Modesto-based company – and typical in at least one respect.

“We generally take over buildings in areas that people have given up on and bring them back,” said Sanjiv Chopra, the company’s CEO.

The company, founded in 2011, promotes itself as a premium club without premium prices, offering basic memberships at $9.99 per month that allow use of cardio and weight machines. Most members sign up for a “premium” package, for $19.99, that also includes group exercise classes along with tanning and hydromassage beds.

Some centers have child care centers and most now have semi-darkened “theaters” where a dozen or so people can use cardio machines while watching films on a 100-inch screen.

“People get bored with cardio, so they don’t do it,” Chopra said, “But show them a movie and men on average will work out for 20 to 40 minutes and women for 40 to 60.”

The company, with 45 locations in California and 20 more in four other states, opened its first Sacramento location in the Fair Oaks area three years ago. A second gym debuted a year later in Carmichael. Then came one in Natomas.

This week, the company opened another south Sacramento site, at Florin and Power Inn roads, and plans to have one operating in Rancho Cordova by next week. Future sites in North Highlands and Roseville are in the permitting stage.

The future Florin location, in a strip center anchored by a bingo hall, still has its old bowling lanes in place.

Building owner Ethan Conrad said he intends to “gut” the building over the next month. Then Fitness Evolution will take four to five months to build out.

Conrad is a member of one of the company’s local clubs and was introduced to Chopra earlier this year. They ended up meeting in the “Kids Club” child care section of the gym – “two grown guys sitting on little chairs,” Chopra recalled.

That led to the new Florin lease.

Conrad, who buys Fitness Evolution memberships for his employees, said he’s enthusiastic about the company’s prospects.

“It’s going to be interesting to see what other (gym operators) drop out because of Fitness Evolution taking more of the market,” he said.

Something to crow about

A Sacramento business with a seemingly provocative product name is getting a bunch of publicity – thanks to last week’s appearance by “Good Wife” star Julianna Margulies on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.”

Margulies was laughingly telling of a photo shoot in France where she was introduced to a hair pomade called … Cock Grease.

The next day, calls and orders poured into the small manufacturing company that makes the product in a warehouse next to Track 7 Brewing Co. near Sacramento City College. The buzz has continued with release of a YouTube clip of the Margulies interview.

“We had wholesalers saying, ‘I saw you on Jimmy Fallon and I want to order some product,’” said Rea MacSems, who founded the company 10 years ago after developing the pomade in her kitchen while running Eddy’s Deluxe barbershop in East Sacramento.

As for the product name, mined for laughs on the show, she said a friend told her she needed “an alpha male animal” on the label. She obliged with the image of a rooster.

She now makes a half-dozen products, including one named Eddy’s De Luxe – “for those,” she said, “without a sense of humor.”

MacSems acknowledges she perhaps has lost some sales due to her double-entendre product names.

But, she said, “If I only sold Eddy’s De Luxe, Jimmy Fallon would never have talked about it.”