Denver club Genesis Fitness shuts down and all I have is one question…

Genesis Fitness held its last workout tonight.

They had to shut the doors on what has been a respectable and well known boot camp workout center since 2003.  Genesis Fitness won the 2009 ‘best boot camp’ award by Westword.  At their peak they had some of the best talent in Denver working for them.

Then something happened.  I know about the end result, but it’s more the trend of what’s happening that’s worrying me.

I’ve been in the Denver Fitness Market since 2001 now (man that makes me feel old) and something is happening and I don’t like it.

An uncomfortable trend.  A trend that threatens your fitness experience and your choices as you know it.

March 2014: Bodylab Denver Shuts Down

Earlier in the year, Bodylab Denver shut down.  They had a slightly different small group personal training model, more like the training workouts we do at our Bonza Bodies Fitness studio.  They were just a few blocks down the road from our 18th and broadway location – now I think there’s a lot of business to be had in the 80202 region, so for these guys to shut down had me worried for small group training – as it turns out, our model is thankfully different enough from theirs.  We don’t push quite as hard and spend a bit more effort on injury prevention and individuals goal-focused tweaks within the workouts, which may have saved us.  For now.  To be honest though, it made me wonder if us adding a large group workout piece a la crossfit or something wouldn’t be beneficial for us.  And then, without warning….

July 2014:  Genesis Fitness Denver Shuts Down

Now let’s get something straight.  Genesis had everything they needed to succeed.  A great location, great trainers (he’s left now, but Adam Harris was one of their trainers who had a reputiation that preceded him – – he’ a take-no-prisoners kind of Scotsman that will leave you a sweaty mess on the floor (note:  he’s actually Welsh, but me being Australian means I love it when people tell him he’s Welsh about as much as I hate it when people ask me if I’m from South Africa or England).

Genesis Fitness was all about kickass workouts that were brutally intense.  We have a member who is with us at Bonza now who tells it best.  When I asked “why did you leave genesis fitness to come to Bonza bodies” he stated quite clearly that genesis would have killed him if he had kept going.   Now, this gentleman was 40 plus and had a few injuries under his belt – so to be fair, the kind of ‘constant pushing’ as opposed to our ‘strategic gains’ strategy might not have been best for where he had been.  I’ll tell you what Genesis did amazingly well though – community.

Genesis Fitness Had  A Community that were like Family

So much in fact that in late June when Genesis Fitness shut their doors, a group of the members just went out and started up their own thing.  If you go to you’ll be able to see the makeshift website they’ve put together.  Even though Genesis the club has fallen, the people and their community (at least the diehards) have stuck together.  How long will this transformative effort be able to be maintained?  Let’s hope as long as they can.

I love the members I have now at our lakewood and downtown studios – but I can tell you I would welcome any of these Genesis members with open arms regardless of their physical ability or how hard they ‘crush it on leg day’, because if they have anything, it’s passion and a willingness to join a community and fight for the workout they want.  It feels like the members we have now.  Maybe it’s our members we have combined with our small group approach that has held us over for now.  I mean, I don’t go to bed worrying that we’re shutting down anytime soon, but when all you see is foundations of Denver fitness falling all around you, you gotta wonder if they felt the same way before they fell.  

There were a couple of other clubs that have shut down over the last few years, some affected by rulings to park workouts, some by greedy landlords and some by bad or unethical business practices of their own.  But there are a few that have been thriving.  These are divided into two main sections:

  1. People that run club/s with an infinite amount of passion and change they want to make
  2. Businesses that run clubs with an infinite amount of money they’re looking to make

I’m talking the big monsters like Corepower, Orange Theory Fitness and big box chains that have the money to build treadmill warehouses with well dressed salespeople.

I see a trend towards fancy clubs that care more about the workout toys than the people who use them – more about the market segment than the passion behind what they are delivering.

My one question is this.

Which club will you support?


Jamie Atlas is the owner of Bonza Bodies Fitness, a small fitness studio that focuses on goal-focused workouts in a small group (1-8) environment.  Members of Bonza receive at home workouts, nutrition plans and perosnalized attention towards their goals and care to avoid joint or muscle issues that could hinder progress if agitated.  Bonza Bodies Fitness is a 2 time winner of 5280 Top Of The Town Best Boot Camp and Best Gym, Jamie Atlas is a 4-time winner of Best Personal Trainer and is also a spokesperson for multiple non-profit and values-driven organizations.  You can contact Jamie or ask about a free membership trial on

One Comment

  • AGREE…we agree that this trend is scary. We agree that the reason a studio should thrive is because of community and passion…we agree that there are good and bad fitness businesses out there. We are here to help those who are ultra passionate about making people healthier. Our goal is to give fitness pros the business support they need (connections, resources and education) to be their best and let them do what they do best, make a healthier Colorado. Glad to have someone like Bonza in our community. You get it!

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