First Sarasota-Bradenton then the world: New gym owners open first location – Sarasota Herald-Tribune

Picking a place to work out usually means a choice between a big corporate gym or a small, intimate fitness studio. But one new north Sarasota fitness center hopes to deliver a little bit of both.
In June, fitness industry professionals Key Fitch and Claude Antoine opened the first location of Circle the Sun Fitness, a new 10,000-square-foot workout facility at 6198 N. Lockwood Ridge Road. Fitch and Antoine, who both previously owned smaller fitness studios in Manatee County, said they wanted to open a place that combined the intimate offerings at a personal training facility — like seminars and speakers — with the traditional aspects of a gym chain. 
“A lot of (gyms) are corporations and weren’t necessarily started by small, independent gym owners who are also trainers,” Fitch said. “Our goal for this gym is to bring the close intimate feeling on a commercial scale.” 
Fitch and Antoine have worked in the industry for quite awhile. Fitch owned Key 2 Life Training in northwest Bradenton’s Beachway Plaza for 10 years, where she trained women in mostly group settings. Antoine was the owner of Bradenton private fitness training studio The Sweat Box for seven years. 
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Antoine said he’d been planning to open a larger, more commercial gym for some time. At The Sweat Box, which offered one-on-one personal training, he found himself having to turn people away. Starting a gym would allow him to help people on a larger scale, Antoine said. He started compiling market research several years ago, and made it known to his Sweat Box clients that starting a bigger facility was the goal. 
“If you have a small studio space, and you’re doing good work, your base is very supportive of you. My clients knew it was going to eventually evolve, and all of them were very positive and very supportive,” he said. 
He went into Key 2 Life Training one day to buy a piece of equipment, and he and Fitch started talking. He mentioned his business plan, and Fitch, who had been planning to sell her business and move to Tampa to focus on a new venture, was hooked right back in.
“I still saw the passion there. When you do what we do for a living — serving the community, helping other people, especially when you’re as passionate as Key and I are — something just told me, ‘Man, she’s not done yet,’” Antoine said. “It was kind of like I spoke in her ear like an angel on her shoulder.”
The first location opened in a former YouFit Gyms facility on Lockwood Ridge Road in June. The plan is to open several locations across the Sarasota-Bradenton area, and beyond. The company wants to eventually increase its footprint through franchising, the owners said. 
Part of offering the small gym experience in a bigger setting is hiring the right staff. For this reason, Fitch said she and Antoine were intentional about the trainers and front-desk staff they hired and made sure the pay they offered was competitive. 
In addition to a wide array of equipment, personal training services, classes and other perks like a tanning bed and HydroMassage machines, the gym also plans to have speakers teach members about things like nutrition and wellness in service of helping clients live a well-rounded lifestyle. 
There are three tiers of membership: $30 per month for a yearlong contract, $35 for month-to-month and $149 per month for unlimited group training access on top of all the basic membership benefits. 
Circle the Sun Fitness is currently open 24 hours per day. A ribbon-cutting ceremony with the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce is scheduled for Oct. 18 at 9 a.m. The gym’s grand opening will take place on site on Oct. 22 from 12-3 p.m. 
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