Gritty luxury is the look that a new 30,000 square-foot Little Italy fitness gym is striving to achieve.
The gritty part comes from the graffiti painted on the walls in an upstairs workout room in Fit of Little Italy, from the sweat of its members as they exercise, from the black and white monochromatic color scheme of its primary workout area and the metallic tile floors.
The luxury part comes with the location — the recently opened Carte Hotel — and the hotel amenities available to Fit members and guests.
They include a wine tasting room, a rooftop bar, and a saltwater swimming pool lined with cabanas and lounge chairs.
There also are locker rooms on the second floor of the two-story Fit done up with warm wood tones with wooden lockers, separate saunas and spas and a lobby with comfortable benches where prospective members can meet with trainers to talk about exercise routines and nutrition.
“It’s a juxtaposition of country club luxury and tough guy gym,” said Scott Lutwak, founder and CEO-COO of Fit Athletic Club. “It’s an amazing partnership between Carte and Fit to be able to provide this type of experience to the residents of Little Italy. They get to come here and feel like they’re on vacation every day, whether it’s the wine bar below or the rooftop lounge directly above us.”
At the same time, Jules Wilson, who designed the Little Italy Fit, said she went out of the way to make the gym stand apart from the hotel.
“We purposefully tried not to design it like a hotel gym. A hotel gym often can feel generic and stale, not very sophisticated relative to the latest fitness trends,” Wilson said. “When you go to a hotel gym, you get a small offering of different equipment.”
Fit Little Italy takes up two floors of the hotel and has an entrance separate from the hotel, although guests can enter through the hotel.
The Fit lobby gives those who enter a taste of luxury with walnut wood benches and the feel of a lounge, Wilson said.
“It feels very high end and elegant,” Wilson said.
Past the lobby is a wide open workout area with floor-to-ceiling windows and floors covered in artificial turf where the focus is on mobility training.
A stairway off to the side leads to four interior studios on the second floor with each focused on an activity from boxing to Spin cycling including the one with colorful graffiti of geometric shapes spray painted on the walls.
“We like to capture a little bit of the urban. Although it’s high end, it’s still urban,” Lutwak said. “I believe graffiti, done the right way is real beautiful art.”
There also are bay windows on the second floor overlooking Ash Street, adding to the urban touch, and a 1,000 square-foot outdoor training area.
Just as the hotel amenities are free to Fit members, use of the Fit gym is free to hotel guests.
For others, monthly membership fees are $115 for the Little Italy club only, $130 for an all-club pass.
The Little Italy Fit is the fifth club Lutwak has opened since moving to San Diego in 2007 from Houston, where he started his company. Other Fit locations are at The Plunge swimming pool in Mission Beach, Solana Beach and Carmel Mountain.
A Rough Beginning
He opened the first San Diego County Fit in February 2008 in East Village’s Diamond View Tower.
The timing wasn’t the greatest, coming at the start of the Great Recession — “unarguably the worst month to open any business in history,” Lutwak said.
“We learned a lot of lessons,” Lutwak said. “Embrace change, because it’s always coming was the lesson I’ve learned. Everything changes, not just in the world and the economy, but fitness itself and your approach to fitness. If you stay open minded to it and embrace change, you can adapt to it and grow with it. We’re a nimble, small company and it’s enabled us to listen to the market and adapt accordingly.”
In 2019, the company had annual revenue of about $16 million and Lutwak said it will likely top $20 million in 2020.