After 18-month wait, the new gym on the block opens

Gold's Gym owner Gurvinder Singh is in the works to open ten

The scintillating Gold’s Gym in Gilroy flaunts the Midas touch.

Its year-and-a-half transformation from vacant store to state-of-the-art fitness facility is a long time coming, however.  

“If we hadn’t signed the lease, we would have walked away,” said owner Ginda Singh, who paid $4 million to transform the inside of 8797 San Ysidro Ave. into a visually appealing workout mecca just under 25,000 square feet.

Singh, 25, said the city’s permit process slowed down the renovation effort. He described the ordeal as “a little ridiculous.”

“It was harder than we expected,” he said, citing an eight-month delay stemming from minutiae surrounding a change of occupancy, the sheer largeness of the construction undertaking and making sure everything is compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Having opened Jan. 2, those obstacles are water under the bridge now.

The new Gold’s Gym is a mixture of pleasing aesthetics, cutting-edge technology and that “new gym smell.” Natural light pouring in from ceiling windows floods the luxury vinyl flooring; a cardio theater room lets members zone out to blockbuster hits while burning calories; an indoor basketball court allows for pick-up games; design touches in the entryway impart a spa-like ambiance; and the 900-square-foot children’s play area has a bathroom built to scale for its small guests.

“It’s got the cutest little toilet I’ve ever seen,” said Gold’s employee Eamon Burke, whose knack for facial recognition allows him to greet many of the 800 Gilroy members by name. “Which is weird to say … but it’s true.”

Giving a tour of the facility Jan. 10, Burke stopped inside the cardio fitness theater, where “Transformers” was being projected onto a 12-foot-wide wall space.

Gold’s provides a list of movie options each week, including recently released DVDs and a few older films. Members can submit their request via the front desk and vote for what films they’d like to see playing in the theater, which has about 12 aerobic machines.

“It takes their mind off working out,” said Burke, flipping on the lights inside the room, which is painted a crimson red. “People like it.”

Gold’s Gym in Gilroy is one of the few in California offering this entertainment perk because it pays royalties to the movie industry, Singh said.

“So far, it’s been great,” he added. “Customers have loved it.”

Another beckoning attraction is the basketball court (just shy of a college size regulation basketball court), which has checkered wood paneling on the walls and a “floating floor.” This refers to the method of installation, which renders the floor more shock-absorbent and “bouncy” to run on, Burke explained.

The Anchorpoint Christian High School men’s basketball team, he noted, has already taken advantage of the prime practice space. The team has its own membership.

Other features include saunas and steam rooms inside the men and women’s bathrooms, a partitioned stretching area (soon to come) and a 4,000-square-foot group workout room that can accommodate about 110 occupants. The gamut of traditional and popular activities such as Zumba, yoga and spinning will eventually be offered, in addition to classes led by Les Mills certified instructors.

Touting a series of choreographed, high-energy, fitness-to-music classes with origins dating back 1980 in New Zealand, a handful of Les Mills routines include “Bodyjam” (dance fusion),  “Bodyflow” (a yoga, pilates and tai chi combo) and “Bodycombat” (a martial arts mix). Access to classes is included with a gym membership.

What some members might consider the cherry on top is Gold’s top-of-the-line workout equipment from TechnoGym, a worldwide wellness company featuring the “Wellness Trainer.” This workout management system involves an electronic key that allows a trainer to manage/monitor members’ personal fitness data. Members can plug their key into any machine, at which point a small computer provides workout directions based on a personally tailored training program. This service costs extra, and is an optional part of the gym membership.

All of TechnoGym’s equipment is manufactured in Italy, touting leather seats made in the same factory that produces interior car accents for Ferrari, according to Singh. His gym has about 80 machines right now, with another 50 on the way.

“It’s the amenities and the equipment we provide that sets us apart,” said Singh, who added his gym in Gilroy is one of the first in California to offer the Wellness Key system. “It’s like having a personal trainer without them being here.”

The keys will be automatically upgraded to include a pedometer in February, he said.

An indoor pool will also “give (Gold’s) a tremendous edge over everyone else.” It’s one of Singh’s top priorities in the coming years.

To make this happen, he’s considering the possibility of knocking out a southwest wall into the adjacent, vacant Office Max building; an expansion that could potentially double Gold’s square footage to about 60,000 square feet, Singh said.

Originally from India, Singh is a longtime resident of Santa Cruz. He got into the gym business alongside his family, whom he helped launch four Gold’s branches in India. The one in Gilroy is his fifth.

When asked what drew his proprietary interests to the Garlic Capital, Singh pointed out Gilroy was open territory for the franchise. Not only that, “I was familiar with the area,” he added. “It’s a great place and a growing city.”

Singh said his lease for the building is based out of San Jose.

With more than 700 chains worldwide – two located in Hollister and San Jose – Gold’s Gym is the largest fitness chain in the world, according to its website. It was founded more than 45 years ago in Venice.

Standing being the customer service kiosk last week as he greeted the intermittent trickle of members arriving for their morning workout, Burke said people are appreciating the new-fangled environment, and all it has to offer.   

“The feedback has been really positive,” said.

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