Moving To Downtown Tampa: The Workout Scene

Pull up to the stoplight at the corner of Kennedy Boulevard and Meridian Avenue in the Channel District of Downtown Tampa and what do you see? Chances are pretty good your eyes will wander toward the floor-to-ceiling windows framing people working out at Powerhouse Gym Downtown Tampa day or night.

The popular high-end workout spot is attracting so many bodybuilders and lesser mortals that a 10,000-feet expansion is already in the works for the three-year-old gym, including a Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) facility being opened by former World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) professional wrestling champion Dave Batista.

The expansion also is designed to provide additional space for free weights and machines, and will better accommodate Suncoast Physical Therapy, Infinite Vitality (medical group for anti-aging, weight loss and rejuvenation medicine) and more. Completion is expected by February 2013.

The Power Behind Powerhouse

Three brothers with a lot of drive, motivation and passion for fitness provide the brawn and brains behind Powerhouse Gym Downtown Tampa. A combined 25 years of experience from three diverse backgrounds and key timing made it possible for owners and operators Matthew Midyett, Eddy Midyett and John Sanguinetti, all of Tampa.

Eddy chose the downtown location. He was already living in Tampa, and space available at Grand Central at Kennedy appealed to him as one of the best locations in the city, a real "destination.'' In a sluggish economy, he explains, a buyer's market complete with better lease, leverage and negotiation options, provides an environment for gyms to thrive. The 40,000-square-feet Powerhouse Gym Downtown Tampa opened in 2009 as a state-of-the-art, energetic workout facility.

The brothers' diverse backgrounds contribute to the success of PGDT. Matthew previously owned an auto repair shop; Eddy worked in the development field and received a bachelor's degree in business; John worked at a Gold’s Gym in San Francisco (in his late teens) and attended junior college. When John decided to open his own gym, he opened a Powerhouse Gym in Huntington Beach, CA. When Matthew and Eddy teamed up with John, the three brothers opened additional gyms in California, including in West Los Angeles, Fullerton and Fountain Valley. They also operated the corporate location in Venice, CA. The West Los Angeles location has been featured on fitness-oriented shows, including Extreme Makeover.

How Is Powerhouse Gym Different?

Fitness fanatics can see the difference by taking a tour. The gym is equipped with more workout equipment and options than one can wrap their head around. In fact, PGDT wins awards each year from Powerhouse International), including Best Powerhouse Gym of the Year (2009), Best Powerhouse Gym Interior (2010) and Best Representation of Powerhouse Brand (2011).

Members have access to TRX suspension training (using body weight and gravity), a rock climbing wall with sand pit (for agility, endurance and instability), dumbbells up to 200 pounds, dummy (for lifting), Cardio Theater (televisions on cardio machines), punching, speed and sand bags, boxing and more. An interesting workout option is the Santa Monica Stairs, a set of stairs as steep as the actual Santa Monica Stairs in California. Members often walk, sprint or lunge up and down the stairs with sand bags or a dummy.

PGDT's O2 VR Cycling puts a new spin on the nationwide spinning phenomenon. The virtual reality course transitions from city to country to coast, and members enjoy actual footage of California wineries, Redwoods, Gold Country and coast.

"Pure oxygen blasts enhance the cycling workouts and makes for a better recovery,'' says Matthew. If members prefer cycling individually instead of in a class, that option is available.

The Gauntlet is a 1,000-square-feet outdoor area. Since it is the same climate as outside, it is ideal for members to replicate and weather the conditions they work out in outside of the gym. Monkey, pull-up and parallel bars, beer kegs (for lifting), kettle bells, sleds, tsunami ropes (for aerobic and muscle resistance), chains, tires (to flip) and sledge hammer are among the highlights.

"It is great for members who want to take their workout up a notch,'' says Dan Long, a Fat Loss Motivational Life Coach, personal trainer and key force in PGDT 'S Kill Mode Boot Camp. A former restaurant manager and would-be proprietor for Outback Group, he pursued his passion for fitness and could not be more pumped up about it.

"Everything I do with Powerhouse Gym is awesome, says Long. "I could not imagine not doing what I am doing.''

Long is involved with the Chik Fil A Fall Stampede (benefiting cancer-stricken children), which PGDT sponsors.

PGDT targets and attracts members of all ages. At first glance, it may seem like the facility is for the elite athlete, but members of varying fitness levels and ages work out at the facility, including new moms, retirees and families. The brothers say that beginners feel as comfortable as the more advanced members. Most members range in age from 22 to 46, including many Grand Central at Kennedy residents.

Formula For Success

The three owners says they strive to provide customer service that is friendly and eager to help, and a staff that goes gentle on the sales pressure.

"Other factors in the formula for success include keeping the gym clean (porters are cleaning all day), knowing everyone's name, overall energy and letting the club sell itself,'' says Matthew. "We make everyone feel welcome, like family.''

The owners regularly walk the floor to interact with members and visitors. Listening to member suggestions and constantly striving for improvement are also everyday occurrences. Recently, they added a new clock shortly after a member suggested it. They also ask visitors how they like PGDT and what they would have liked to see.

Member Julian Payne of Tampa says he has belonged to many gyms, has been a personal trainer and has competed in bodybuilding competitions, so he is finesse with fitness.

"PGDT is diverse and provides non-conventional options to work out and create muscle confusion, like TRX (suspension training) and a sledgehammer. It is a very motivational gym and its workout options remind me of Rocky Balboa in the Rocky IV movie,'' says Payne.

PGDT also offers amenities such as an onsite dry cleaning service, tanning and spray tanning. Be Seen Dry Cleaning has drop-off stations in each locker room, to accommodate members' dirty laundry. Within the locker rooms are steam rooms with eucalyptus spray (for opening pores and aromatherapy). The Guardian Air system reduces air pollutants and the possibility of "sick building syndrome.''

Speed Source Athletics, established by professional sprinter and exercise physiologist Mark Gochenour, is a program offering sports training combined with exercise physiology. Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Detroit Lions and other NFL teams, and SWAT and DEA enforcement agencies have been involved with Speed Source Athletics.

Licensed Massage Therapist Jeff Trager, the "Knot Doctor,'' independent registered dieticians and independent personal trainers are also available to PGDT members.

Individual memberships begin at $34 per month (pre-paid) and go up to $69 (monthly). Corporate rates are also offered.

Additional Downtown Tampa Gyms

Harbor Island Athletic Club and Spa

Downtown YMCA Fort Brooke

Downtown YMCA 100 North

Plaza Fitness Center

Punch Boxing for Fitness

Sweatshop Urban Gym and Studios

Juliette Cassistre is a Boston area native who loves sunny Florida, fitness and health-conscious cooking and baking. She has been a freelance writer for several local publications, including a stint as a Food and Drink Website Editor. She earned her bachelor of arts degree in Communications at Bridgewater State College in Massachusetts. Comments? Contact 83 Degrees.
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