Arlington, VA

A vacant storefront under the Penrose Square Apartments on Columbia Pike (2501 9th Road S.) is currently bulking up for a transformation into an F45 gym.

F45 is a gym franchise that started in Australia and has been expanding throughout the D.C. region, with recently-opened locations in Ballston and Tysons. The new gym is underneath the Giant grocery store on the second floor of the complex, sandwiched between a barber shop and a dry cleaner.

Trip O’Connell is the very enthusiastic managing partner of the Penrose F45. He also manages the U Street F45, which opened a little over a year ago.

“We were the first location in D.C.,” O’Connell said. “It’s been going great. We have a lot of people in the area who liked the vibe and wanted more.”

O’Connell said he turned his attention across the Potomac, where there were already successful F45 gyms like the one at Pentagon Row.

“Finding locations is tough,” O’Connell said. “There’s a lot of new builds going on in Maryland and D.C. and Virginia, but those locations always jack rents up.”

O’Connell said that he was lucky to find the space in Penrose that had previously been occupied by 9round Fitness, a boxing-oriented gym. Currently, O’Connell and his partner are in California getting final approvals from the F45 HQ, but if things go smoothly he hopes to start a pre-marketing campaign on May 15.

“We’re hoping to start running people through test classes,” said O’Connell. “If that goes smoothly, we’re looking at an opening mid-June.”

The plan is to offer first-time visitors a two-week free trial on which they can take as many classes as they want. After that, membership is $55 per week for unlimited access to the gym or $45 for those purchasing membership for those signing up to the gym early on.

It can sound like a steep price, especially with the $10 per month Planet Fitness moving in nearby at Pentagon Row, but O’Connell said the program offers a specialized workout routine.

“The F45 program speaks for itself,” said O’Connell. “Everyone’s heard about high-intensity interval training. F45 breaks new ground on how that applies to a workout. You’re coming to a new gym every day and it’s the same room, but a different set-up.”

O’Connell said the free trial gives people a chance to experience the program first-hand and get hooked.

“We want people to come in and try it,” said O’Connell. “You can’t describe the feeling of doing it with 36 other people — getting through the pain of the workout, and then it’s over. Unless you get people in the door to experience that, it can’t be described.”

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