Vasa Fitness offered tours of its new Joliet Fitness Center on Friday, the day before it opens Saturday at North Ridge Plaza at Larkin Avenue and Theodore Street.
The 60,000 square foot fitness center built in the space last occupied by an Ultra Foods supermarket offers a panorama of fitness equipment and weights visible from the entrance and has some unique Joliet features.
“We purposely design for an open concept,” said Mindi Bridges, Brand and Marketing Manager at Vasa. “You will always have a line of sight so you can see everything.”
Bridges described the basic $9.99 membership package as covering “everything not behind a door.”
Behind the gates are a three-lane pool, basketball court, and a few studios for high-intensity interval training, yoga, dance classes, and other activities.
Vasa Fitness has 50 fitness centers in seven states, most west of the Mississippi River. The company is new to Illinois, having recently opened in Villa Park and now in Joliet for its second location in the state.
Joliet has more Olympic weights and more punching bags than any other Vasa club, said Hillary Steckler, director of facility design for Vasa.
“We know in Illinois there’s a lot of interest in boxing,” Steckler said.
There are bags on the ground floor and more on a mezzanine that comes with the building. Vasa used it primarily for what he calls a community space – chairs and tables for people to gather together.
“Vasa is a place to get in shape and build community,” Bridges said.
People are welcome to stop in for a tour and shouldn’t expect a hard sell pitch, she said. They also shouldn’t worry about fitting in with a fit crowd.
“We’re very inclusive at Vasa,” Bridges said. “We welcome people of all fitness levels.”
Among the features designed to appeal to the local market is a Chicago skyline graphic in the bike room. It’s a view of Millennium Park, and the bikes are geared up to feel like they’re rolling through the city, Steckler said.
“In Arizona we have cactus plants,” Steckler said of the graphics found at other Vasa Network cycling halls. “In Colorado, where I come from, we have mountains. Each state gets a signature chart.
In Joliet, Vasa renovated a space that had remained empty for nearly four years. This is the latest reuse at North Ridge Plaza, where a Portillo’s Pick Up restaurant opened less than two weeks ago.
Portillo’s demolished a former IHOP restaurant and rebuilt on the site for its first takeout-only restaurant. Meanwhile, there are plans to build a Starbucks cafe on part of the parking lot outside Vasa Fitness.
Joliet Mayor Bob O’Dekirk joined a groundbreaking ceremony Friday for Vasa Fitness and told the new occupants, “It’s a truly impressive facility.