A prominent storefront next to one of Bakersfield’s busiest intersections has finally been filled, six years after it was vacated, by a chain looking to break into the city’s crowded market for indoor exercise venues.
San Diego County-based Chuze Fitness recently began tenant improvement work at the space formerly occupied by Sport Chalet on the north side of Stockdale Highway just east of California Avenue. Already selling monthly gym memberships starting at about $10 per month, the gym expects to open this summer.
The deal erases one of the last remnants of overpopulation within Bakersfield’s sporting goods scene, while also signaling continued strength in a local fitness industry that has seen new clubs open across the city targeting different income levels and exercise preferences.
Chuze’s entry to the local market — it has three dozen locations in four states but none closer than the Los Angeles Basin — fills out Stockdale Plaza, which is anchored by Aldi, Bed Bath & Beyond and CVS. The center may be better known to some as the local home of fast-food restaurants including Chick-fil-A and In-N-Out.
Also coming to the shopping center is the beverage store chain Teaspoon; a Pizza Guys restaurant opened at Stockdale Plaza several weeks ago.
Chuze’s website lists the Bakersfield location as being in pre-sale mode. The Santee-based company did not respond to a request for comment.
Bakersfield commercial real estate broker Scott Underhill called the gym membership industry “a bit of a phenomenon,” in that such businesses have gradually filled voids that typically measure about 30,000 square feet and which, in decades past, were often leased by drug stores or home-improvement retailers.
Each gym serves a local niche big or small, whether it’s a boutique yoga studio, a full-service fitness center open night and day, or something in between, Underhill said.
“You’ve got all these doggone gyms and fitness places,” he said. “It’s a beautiful model.”
Part of the beauty, he added, was that gyms typically show up on their customers’ monthly credit card bills, regardless of how often they get used, which may not be frequent. Plus, they become social settings among some generations, he said.
Characterizing Bakersfield’s retail market as “very healthy,” Underhill surmised that Chuze’s choice of a central location like Stockdale Plaza suggests it wants to serve the local market with a single location, as opposed to opening further west and then launching a second gym in the city’s northeast.
Chuze memberships are selling for as much as $29.99 for people open to paying more for services like remotely accessible “virtual fitness” classes. The chain’s website references team training, hot tubs and a kids club, though it was not clear Tuesday whether all those options will be made available in Bakersfield.
Before Sport Chalet, the future Chuze location was home to a Ralphs supermarket.