Sunday, June 4, 2023

New gym promises to be worth the weight

Personal trainers Shara Gonzales, Lisa Jennings and Tammy Solinski, with a little help from The Incredible Hulk, are teaming up to open Iron Den in Flower Mound. Photo by Helen’s Photography

Behind a 1970s-era building, that originally housed a rifle manufacturing facility on Flower Mound’s south side, is a former warehouse where something unusual is about to open.

While there are plenty of fitness studios around, none are likely owned by three women. Plus, the newest facility will be the only one on the planet with equipment bought from and autographed by Lou Ferrigno, the former bodybuilder, fitness trainer/consultant and actor best known for his work on the TV series, “The Incredible Hulk,” from 1977-1982.

Iron Den, 1401 Spinks Road in Flower Mound, owned by longtime personal trainers Tammy Solinski, Lisa Jennings and Shara Gonzales, will feature 5,000-square-feet of training space with specialized weight equipment. Scheduled to open in late April, it will host a grand opening Saturday, May 11, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., an event Ferrigno is slated to attend, with Flower Mound Mayor Steve Dixon, helping cut the ceremonial ribbon.

“It’s exciting because we are all of the same heart and mind,” Gonzales said. “We want to help people ultimately and to have our own little space. It’s awesome! I’m blessed and I think we all will be more blessed, because we fit so well together!”

Solinski and husband, Joe, purchased the property four-years-ago, not only to move their longtime Stone & Glazing Consulting business from Lewisville to Flower Mound, but also to implement their vision to create a place like Iron Den.

The location features one of the first industrial buildings in Flower Mound; previously owned by Homer Koon, who moved his Omega III rifle business from Denton. Among the customers who personally visited were actor John Wayne and former Texas Governor John Connally.

Lou Ferrigno aka The Incredible Hulk and Tammy Solinski.

Since the Iron Den was conceived, Joe Solinski has helped his wife and her partners set-up and prepare to operate their business. That includes patiently awaiting the Town of Flower Mound to approve zoning for the facility, which still includes a 100-yard underground shooting tunnel used to test Koon’s custom rifles.

A friend in the fitness industry connected them with Ferrigno and, after Tammy and Jennings flew to San Luis Obispo, California, to meet the actor and his wife, Carla, they solidified a deal.

In October 2017, Ferrigno, Joe and two other fitness/Hulk enthusiast-movers loaded everything into a 45-foot, 18-wheel truck to haul everything back to North Texas. Ferrigno had his equipment in a gym adjacent to his summer home and, although 15-20 years old, the specialized machines look brand new.

The Solinski’s have long been into a health and fitness lifestyle, including owning the B Fit 4 Life fitness studio. The three entrepreneurs have been personal trainers for a combined 50 years.

Jennings managed a Dallas gym before becoming a personal trainer 10-years-ago. Training at the Solinski’s B Fit 4 Life Gym fueled her passion to do something bigger.

“I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do and we just kind of talked about it and that was right about the time they got the call for the equipment,” she said.

Jennings and Gonzales are longtime friends who met at a local gym at which Gonzales was teaching aerobics. After working for other people at small gyms, she, too, was ready for one to call her own. She was thrilled when Jennings and Tammy Solinski asked her to be their partner.

“I’m always a motivator, because I used to be really heavy, so I love to work with women and facilitate programs,” Gonzales said. “I was ready for something bigger. It always came back to training. After working for other people, I just wanted to help people– and make others feel good about helping themselves– which makes me feel good.”

The trio will be joined by other veteran/top-tier personal trainers to help individuals, plus small and large groups. The Iron Den clients will set appointments with the trainers to use the facility.

While the fitness industry is typically male dominated, this will be a truly woman-owned business.

“There is a different tone to this facility, because of that (women-owned),” Joe said. “It’s integrity, ethics and positivity, coupled with a little empathy. This studio will be focused on training– not just women, but men and pro athletes, as well.

“I will get to use it and see it succeed. The vision they have and to be part of that is pretty cool. I believe in it and will do ‘whatever it takes to help them succeed”

That tag line has been a mantra for the Solinski’s, which Tammy has memorialized as a tattoo on the side of her ribcage.

Even though they have yet to open, the trio has naysayers. Little do these doubters know how many people are just waiting to become clients of the Iron Den.

“Anyone who has seen what we’re doing, even when it was just beginning, is excited!” Tammy said. “They like the feel, they like the look, they just love everything about it!”

The partners hope that while they are helping their clients become fitter, they will do so in a fun and positive way. They also want to be inspirational by helping their clients follow some of Ferrigno’s affirmative statements including, “Never Give Up” and “Dare to Dream” painted on the steel beams above the training area.

“Personal training is a superhero type of thing,” Joe said. “While people have challenges at home, trainers can motivate them past that. It’s an amazing power they have and it’s not just going to be these three. There will be a staff of trainers who will be vetted to be of the same cloth.”

“We talk about this place being home,” Gonzales said. “I’m going to know all Iron Den clients by name. We’re going to work together; as it’s not about one succeeding over the other. It’s about all of us making it a home for our clients. So, when they come in, they can confide in us. The Iron Den becomes a place to go, workout and feel great. By the time they walk out that door, they don’t have any worries.”

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