Lift weights at LuxFit’s East Cut location. Photo: Courtesy of LuxFit
Walk through Hayes Valley near Patricia’s Green and you’re likely to see a corner buzzing with bench presses, sparring and maybe even a dog or two tied to a barbell.
What is happening: The outdoor concept, known as LuxFit, is the brainchild of Yotam Israeli, a personal trainer who, like countless others in the city, lost his job at the start of the pandemic when traditional gyms were forced to close.
- Israeli launched LuxFit’s Hayes Valley location in December 2020 and expanded to the East Cut a year later.
- He says they are the only fully outdoor gyms in the city and offer monthly memberships, personal training and group classes.
Why it matters: The pandemic has had a devastating impact on the city’s economy and especially small businesses. But the limitations have also resulted in creativity, and in the case of LuxFit, a place for people to stay healthy and pump iron outside.
What they say: “As a small business owner, you’re always like evolve or die,” Dave Karraker, co-owner of MX3 Fitness, told Axios.
By the numbers: Karraker says that about 15% of the 140 local gyms that are part of the San Francisco Independent Fitness Studio Coalition — of which he is a board member — closed between 2020 and 2022.
- “Big box” gyms, such as 24 Hour Fitness, have also closed several locations across the city.
- Meantime, outdoor boot camps and even dance classes in the park have popped up to fill the fitness void.
Details: Israeli says LuxFit has 45 fitness trainers and nearly 500 members, with an eye on expanding to a third location.
- Yes, but: He also remembers when it was first launched, when he had to haul equipment in and out of the container warehouse himself and sat without customers for hours at a time.
- “Running a business is a lot of great days,” he said. “There are also many dark days.”
What we watch: Luxfit’s Hayes Valley location is on one of six parcels Supervisor Dean Preston has identified as places to build affordable housing. Will this happen, or will small businesses in the area, such as Ritual Coffee and the Biergarten, remain?
- And will people continue to enjoy lifting weights outside as the threat of COVID-19 recedes, or will they retreat indoors?