REFIT® is getting DOWN in UPTOWN Waco
REFIT® Revolution, a Waco-based fitness program that launched with help from online donations and now has 265,000 YouTube followers, will move its corporate headquarters to downtown. It will anchor a development dubbed The Standard on Washington Avenue, that will also be home to six health-focused food, drink and skin-care establishments.
“We envisioned a development space that would be a one-stop shop for people, a place to work out, grab a healthy lunch, get a facial or meet up with a friend for coffee or wine,” said Angela Beeler, one of three founders of REFIT Revolution. “We think these businesses will prove popular to those visiting the downtown and uptown area.”
Toby Tull, a Baylor University graduate and co-founder of Happy Harvest and Bare Bucha, said he will bring his farm-to-table approach and passion for fitness to The Standard. He will lease space to serve Abundance Bowls, which will offer build-your-own salads heavy on greens and vegetables, as well as veggie burgers.
“We’re hoping to open sometime this summer, late July or early August, and we are very excited about what the REFIT group is putting together,” Tull said. “They have worked hard to procure a good mix of shops. Neighbors are important, especially in business, and they have excelled in this area.”
REFIT co-founder Catherine Ballas said her business will occupy 12,000 square feet in the 20,000-square-foot building at 1522 Washington Ave., with 3,500 square feet set aside for workouts and the balance earmarked for REFIT gear sales, corporate offices, a communal area, locker rooms and video production.
REFIT, founded in 2012, has outgrown its location on Richland Drive and will more than double its workout capacity, to 150 participants, with the move.
“We have hundreds of members cycling through the studio each month, and we have about 3,000 instructors nationwide with their own set of participants,” Beeler said.
The company’s broadcasting capabilities have created fans worldwide - the workout sessions are particularly popular in Indonesia, “which is our second largest demographic after the US,” she said.
REFIT started modestly by soliciting donations through Indiegogo, a crowdfunding site. It raised $13,000 in 48 hours and spent the seed money to produce a workout DVD, create a website and provide instructor training. Each person who pledged at least $10 received a copy of the DVD, Ballas said.
REFIT dotes on internal changes and uses music and positive feedback to inspire women to complete their “fitness journey,” Beeler said.
“We believe a change in the heart can produce a change in the body,” she said.
Mitchell Construction will serve as general contractor for remodeling of the one-story building, which REFIT acquired with the help of Waco real estate agent Gregg Glime, who also helped recruit tenants.
“We hope to give the exterior a face-lift and we’re hoping to create an industrial vibe,” Ballas said. “We looked two years downtown and uptown, and we were able to get a better price on this place due to the square footage. It also has 60 designated parking spaces, which is awesome.”
Andrew Steakley, owner of Barnett’s Pub on Franklin Avenue, will lease about 3,300 square feet to open Lighthouse Coffee and Wine.
“We want it to become a gathering place for the community, where people will enjoy a unique experience and focus on the craft of coffee and the craft of wine. We want it to become a beacon for Waco,” said John Hodges, who will serve as director of operations. “The space has just been turned over to us, and we will meet with our architects Monday. Construction should begin soon, and we’re already talking with coffee reps and distributors.”
Alex Tolani, who attended Baylor University, said a longstanding dream is coming true as he serves as “head of coffee” at Lighthouse.
“I think our brew methods and machines will set us apart in this market,” Tolani said. “We will use a multi-roasting system that employs three different roasters with staggered times for completion of the roasting process.”
Suppliers will include Olympia Coffee Roasting Co., based in Olympia, Washington, renowned for its coffee products and shops, and Methodical Coffee Co., “one of the best coffee shops on the East Coast,” Tolani said.
“We want the public to be able to spend the entire day on the 1500 block of Washington Avenue,” he said.
Yoga Bar, Nourish Skincare and Skin By Brandy will share almost 2,500 square feet and jointly operate under the name Soul-dality, according to information provided by REFIT.
As Tull prepares to open this Happy Harvest location with partners David Aycock and Juanita Barrientos at The Standard, he is also poised to open a sit-down restaurant at 112 N. 25th St., Tull said.
Tull said Happy Harvest and its sister company, Bare Bucha, serve dishes ranging from sweetened roasted bananas and $60 farm-to-table dinners to hemp protein bars and kombucha, a fizzy fermented tea drink.
Its spot at The Standard will represent a “different take” on its approach to nutrition and belief that food should be good for the body, Tull said.
Considering the growth of development along Washington Avenue, several of those opening shops in The Standard said they would favor the proposal to convert the avenue into a two-way street downtown.
“We would love to see that become a reality,” Beeler said. “One-way streets are old technology. Two-way would help traffic flow.”
Abbreviated article, first appearing in the Waco Tribune-Herald