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Gym-café concept to take over Ray’s the Steaks location in Courthouse

A one-stop-shop for a workout and a post-workout meal is gearing up to open in the former Ray’s the Steaks location in Courthouse.

The forthcoming gym-café, FitDistrict, will have a little bit of everything: studios for hot yoga, cycling and interval training classes, and a diverse menu ranging from wheatgrass shots to healthified comfort classics, like shepherd’s pie.

“This has been a dream in the making for a long time,” says owner and founder Catherine Ford, who is also an Arlington resident.

Construction began about two weeks ago on the approximately 7,500-square foot space in the Navy League building at 2300 Wilson Blvd. It housed the iconic, no-frills steakhouse until that closed in 2019.

She expects to open the gym and restaurant at the same time in July.

“We’re all so busy and we are all are craving belonging and community — now more than ever — so it’s going to be fitness and food, but it’s about belonging and community,” she said. “Our tagline is ‘feel good here,’ because that’s what it’s about.”

After finishing a workout, gym members can head over to the café, which will have indoor and outdoor seating, or pick up a to-go order they placed before their workout. Ford designed the menu, which has vegan, vegetarian and paleo-friendly options.

“The whole idea came out of something I wanted in my own life and my personal struggles of fitting it all in,” she said.

The FitDistrict logo (courtesy photo)

As a financial planner, Ford had difficulty finding time for her two passions: attending group fitness classes and cooking healthy food. As someone who enjoyed a variety of workouts, she maintained multiple memberships to different boutique gyms.

The idea for one spot housing multiple studios and a restaurant came to her 10 years ago, when she was hungry after a barre class she had squeezed in before a meeting. She mulled the concept for years before deciding to act on it.

“I am grateful I found the courage a couple of years ago to go after it,” she said. “This has been a journey of a lifetime already.”

Ford incorporated FitDistrict in 2017 and found a bank to work with her in 2018. It took her a few years to find the right location, but she eventually signed a lease on the space a little more than a year ago. Now, she’s focused on construction and hiring for multiple positions.

She still works as a financial planner by day, but her hope is to go full time and, eventually, add locations.

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