George Brown building fifth Fresno fitness club

An artist's rendering of the planned 44,000 square-foot Gb3 fitness club at Milburn and Herndon avenues in Fresno. It should open by year's end.An artist's rendering of the planned 44,000 square-foot Gb3 fitness club at Milburn and Herndon avenues in Fresno. It should open by year's end.The downturn in the economy apparently hasn’t halted George Brown, who is gearing up to open his fifth fitness club in Fresno by the end of the year.

Ground was broken a few weeks ago at the planned 44,000 square-foot Gb3 fitness club at Milburn and Herndon avenues in northwest Fresno, in a plot of unused land just behind the Save Mart shopping center.

According to Brown, the new two-story center will be equipped like no other fitness club in Fresno, with 250 cardio machines, 75 treadmills and a slew of elliptical machines.

In addition, the sports club will have some relatively new products on the fitness market with 75 versatile AMT (Adaptive Motor Training) machines and TRX Suspension Trainers and octane machines —  similar to ellipticals, but they allow people to sit down while working out, making them especially popular with older people or those with joint, knee or hip problems.

“(The center) will have a 75-foot swimming pool, steam sauna, the latest plasma TVs with 50- and 80-inch screens, all the latest cardio equipment,” said Brown, adding Wi-Fi access as a feature that admittedly has been long overdue but will now be added to all his clubs.

Beside the equipment inside, Brown said he is especially excited about the design of the new center, crafted by Marlette Associates architecture firm out of Clovis.

According to the blueprints, much of the building’s south side will be a glass face rising 56 feet. Inside, a two-sided mezzanine of workout equipment will hang out over the gym floor while the other side looks directly out at Herndon Avenue.

Children will be amused, he said, by the two-story day care center with tri-level space mazes to climb around on.
The location of the gym was also a fortunate turn of events, Brown said. Originally planned to go in at Herndon and Blythe avenues, Gb3 purchased the current plot after those plans failed to come together.

At the newer site, he added, the company is free to serve a growing area farther west where people have no gyms close by, instead of adding to Herndon Avenue’s congestion by traveling the extra distance to Gb3’s gym near Palm and Nees avenues.

“We've done studies and almost 35 percent that go to Palm come from the
Westside market, and we wanted to build a club so they could stay in their area and cut down on the Palm traffic,” he said.

Brown said he will begin hiring trainers and other staff for the new center in about four months, needing between 50 to 75 employees.

In many ways, Brown said, the new center will mirror expansions done in the past year at two other locations. Beginning around 8 months ago, a project at Fowler and Herndon avenues is slated for completion in May now that work is done on an entirely new adjacent building, bringing its total size to 60,000 square feet and longer than a football field.

In addition, the expansion brings the center up to 80 treadmills, 5,500 aerobic rooms, two huge cardio rooms, a free weight gym, and more cardio machines and bikes, not to mention an immensely large parking lot. Gb3’s Sunnyside club at Kings Canyon Boulevard and Fowler Avenue was also recently beefed up with new equipment and space through a similar expansion.

With all the new space and equipment as well as a sizeable growth in membership, Brown pointed out that the level of service hasn’t changed a bit.

“Our classes have gotten busy and full, and we're still the only club in town that doesn't charge for Pilates and bike spinning and floor exercise and kickboxing and Zumba,” Brown said. “All the other clubs charge every hour on top of your membership.”

George Brown, 62, has been building and selling fitness clubs as far back as the 1970s not long after he graduated from San Diego State University. In the late ‘80s, he operated full-time the first of what would become Gb3 George Brown Sports Club and the business grew from there.

Now, the five fitness clubs in Fresno serve all ages with the latest in weight and cardio machines, aerobics classes, pools, saunas and even fun for kids. They are also the only ones in the Fresno area open for 24 hours a day.
Brown said the new club and the recent expansion are evidence of growth for the company, fueled by a trending passion for physical fitness.

“The thing we’ve found is if you put the money back into the club and make it grow, it keeps your membership base strong,” Brown said. “People enjoy coming to the gym because it seems like there is always something new we’re putting in.”

A household name in Fresno, Gb3 competes with another popular gym in the local fitness market, Bally Total Fitness. Recently, however, the nationwide chain announced it would sell its three gyms in Fresno and two more in Clovis and Madera to Blast Fitness Group in order to focus on core markets in cities like New York, San Francisco and Denver.