Crunch, the gym known for its “no judgments” philosophy, has arrived in Richmond.

In the past six weeks, a franchisee of the national fitness chain has opened two locations here, and there are plans to open at least one more later this year. Eventually, there may be up to five Crunch gyms in the area.

What makes Crunch different?

“Crunch is all about making fitness fun, entertaining,” said Carrie Grow, general manager of the Crunch on Glenside Avenue near West Broad Street in Henrico County.

Started in a basement aerobics studio in New York City, Crunch offered classes such as Hip-Hop Aerobics, Co-Ed Action Wrestling and Cyked Yoga Cycling. These non-traditional takes on classes caught the attention of bored exercisers, and the concept grew.

Today, Crunch has more than 400,000 members in corporate and franchise gyms across the U.S. and Australia.

“Most people who have lived in New York, Atlanta or Chicago … come in and say, ‘We know Crunch,’ ” Grow said.

The Glenside location opened in mid-March. A second location on Brook Road rolled out this month in a space converted from a Fitness Evolution.

In addition to large gyms with strength and cardiovascular equipment, both of the local Crunch locations offer classes that are in line with the chain’s theme to be entertaining to motivate people to exercise, Grow said.

“Most of our classes are fusion classes,” she said. “So instead of having Pilates, we have fat-burning Pilates,” which includes some cardiovascular work.

The number and types of those classes will expand in the coming months, she said.

With “no judgments” painted across the front-desk area and across one wall at the Glenside location, it’s clear that the gym is trying to send a message.

“There are still so many people out there who are intimidated to come into a gym,” Grow said.

Those are the people that Crunch is trying to attract.

Except for indoor cycling and Zumba dance formats, Crunch exercise classes are 30 minutes long.

“They can come in, they can get out in a reasonable amount of time. ... If they want, they can stay longer because we stack the classes.”

Back-to-back, 30-minute classes in the early morning, lunchtime and evenings allow members to pick and choose according to time and interests.

It’s less intimidating that way, Grow said.

“You don’t have to be here an hour and a half just to take a class.”

Personal training is another area that Crunch emphasizes. New members, who get basic gym access for $9.95 a month without any sort of contract, get a free session with a trainer. For about $20 a month, members have access to group classes.

The local Crunch gyms are owned by franchisee John Freeland, who is a member of Crunch in Florida, where he lives when he’s not in New York City.

The retired businessman recently was involved in starting an architectural supply company in Richmond, Grow said. During his visits, he noticed there were no Crunch gyms and decided to change that, she said.




Rob Welk had a hard time pulling on his socks before he discovered yoga. “I didn’t look anything like this,” he said with a laugh. “My belly was out to here,” he added, motioning several inches in front of his now-flat midsection.


Maria Howard is a group exercise instructor for the YMCA of Greater Richmond and the University of Richmond Weinstein Center. Her column runs every other week in Sunday Flair.

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