The new Holiday Shores gym promotes a community atmosphere

When Molly Harris was hosting group workouts at her home after the pandemic forced gyms to close, she didn’t even know most of the people there in her own home.

Now she considers these people her closest friends.

As group workouts in her garage grew to over 30 people, she knew she had to find a bigger space.

On Friday, Harris officially opened the doors of Black Iron Fitness to the public.

Although Black Iron Fitness has an address in Edwardsville at 7301 St. James Dr., the gym is located in Holiday Shores near Wiggler’s Bar and Grill and Behme’s Market Holiday Shores.

“It’s always been a pipe dream for me,” Harris said. “I looked at buildings 10 years ago, so it’s something I’ve always wanted to do.”

Harris started working at a gym in 2009 doing group workouts before becoming a hairstylist, and when COVID shut everything down in 2020, she recertified her personal training license and started selling programs online.

This turned into group workouts in his garage, which led to Black Iron Fitness.

Alongside Harris at Black Iron Fitness is certified personal trainer Laura Leh, who coached in Harris’ garage.

After just one opening weekend, memberships far exceeded initial expectations. Not only have the original 30+ gym goers joined, but the total membership goal set by Harris and Leh is halfway there.

“Community outreach has been amazing,” Harris said. “Everyone who trained with us was patiently waiting for a nearby gym.”

Open from 4 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week, membership packages come in different tiers. A regular membership with gym access costs $45/month, but the membership with gym access and unlimited classes is $125/month.

The gym includes treadmills, squat racks, a bench press area, dumbbells up to 100 pounds, CrossFit areas, and two locker rooms.

Black Iron Fitness prides itself on fitness classes.

“We want people to learn in these classes and then have the knowledge and the confidence to do it on their own,” Harris said.

There are two different types of classes: the barbell club, which focuses on strength training, and the GRIT, which focuses on high-intensity bodyweight exercises.

“People come here and form friendships,” Harris said, “feel comfortable and gain confidence.”

Classes have been so popular and bookings have filled up so quickly that members have set alarms to remind them to sign up when a class becomes available.

What both want to emphasize with this community gym is inclusion. Just because it’s owned and operated by women doesn’t mean it’s a women-only gym.

“Molly (Harris) created this community where people come and form their own friendships,” Leh said.

Earlier on Saturday, Harris told a member how scared of gyms she was and that she wished Black Iron Fitness didn’t have that vibe.

“We don’t want people not to be healthier just because they’re afraid to go into a place,” Harris said. “If someone is really scared to train, we meet them at the door and walk them through the door. We just want people to feel comfortable and feel better.

For anyone nervous about starting to train and changing their lifestyle, Leh says, “Just take the first step and go for it. The physical results are just an added bonus for what it gives you mentally. Discipline will spill over into other areas of your life.

The connected building in front of Black Iron Fitness is set to be transformed into a cafe named The Vault on May 1. Not only will it serve coffee, but also post-workout protein shakes.

“The community support has been overwhelming,” Harris said. “It was awesome, and we were lucky with the number of people who came through our doors.”

For more information on how to register for courses or become a member, visit the Black Iron Fitness website.

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