Up & Out Community Fitness Center
GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) A new fitness center in Grand Rapids opened less than a year ago and has already had a huge impact on the neighborhood and is meeting the needs of the community in more ways than one.
"I think all people need is a place and the right idea and they will come," said Kevin Rigg.
Rigg's opened Up & Out Community Fitness Center on the corner of Eastern and Baxter late last year. He says it was his love of the community that inspired him to do so. Rigg, who works out and hits the weights in the gym almost daily, is no stranger to heavy lifting, but nothing compares to the way he is lifting up his community by providing people with a neighborhood gym.
"I have seen it change lives," he said. Members of the fitness center agree.
"It has been great. We have men and women showing up," said Danny White.
Member Paul Strong says, "Up & Out is just a beacon of positivity to the community period. It is a safe, drama-free place in a neighborhood, where there is a rib or fried chicken joint on every corner. A fitness center is a god send. "
Rigg says he wanted to provide a place that was affordable and accessible for people to stay healthy and get in shape. The gym is convenient but what you really can't beat is the cost.
"Yes, because it is free to the community," said the owner.
Since opening, the gym has acquired roughly 80 members and is growing. Rigg doesn't charge one single penny.
"A lot of people in the neighborhood who may not have the means to pay for a gym membership or YMCA membership are blessed by it," said Strong. "It is a drama-free zone. It is safe. It is positive."
Rigg says "when the Kroc Center built their building on Division and YMCA downtown, I thought these are really nice places but there was nothing in this community. And, I love this community. So when this building became available I thought it would be the perfect place to create a fitness center. We have weights. We have boxing. We have a number of different things that people can be involved with here in this building. So they don't have to go down to the YMCA and the Kroc Center."
However, in lieu of money, Rigg takes payment in the form of mentoring. Members can pay it forward by sharing their time, knowledge and a helping hand.
"We are not able to make anything more than God allows us to have. If God allows us two, then we have one to share," said Rigg. "The people who come in I encourage them to be a part of someone else's experience. So, if they know what they are doing on a machine and there is a young guy who comes in and doesn't, I encourage them to coach or help and to pass along what they know to the younger generation."
"We even have a little reading playroom in the basement where little kids can be there. And there are people volunteering to watch over the kids as they are in the room, reading or playing with the game while mom or dad is in the other room exercising."
The "Each One, Teach One" philosophy attracted professional boxer, Purnell "Knock You Out" Gates to workout and run the center's boxing program.
"It is a sport that a lot of kids like and like to do," said Gates. "I feel like you have to give back, so giving back to the community is really important."
Gates says he's witnessed the gym and his participation inspire youth.
"We just take them through training and different training methods. With boxing you have to have a mental focus first. So you get them mentally tough first and then you work on the physical aspect. They are an inspiration to me as well as me to them," he said.
In addition to boxing equipment, Up & Out has a complete power lifting gym, mats for wrestling and mixed-martial arts, cardio machines and even a dance studio.
"We weren't sure what to do on the other side of the building so we painted and added a new floor and invited dance teacher to use room to teach dance class," said Rigg. "So both male and female, young and old, there are a lot of people who come and use the facility."
Rigg says he wanted the fitness center to add a new sense of hope and community to the neighborhood and feels he has already been successful in accomplishing that goal.
"People come and see what is going on. Everyone that comes say 'I love that concept and love they idea.' They jump right in and start being a part of what we are doing. Everybody is helping, everybody is working and this is the way it ought to be."
He does accept donations like bleach, cleaning supplies and water to defray costs and says, in the future, he would like to add programs and maybe an outside basketball court.
Up & Out has become a place where people aren't just building strong bodies, but building a strong community.
"Watching that happen has been a joy," said Rigg.