Vasa Fitness opens in Joliet – Shaw Local

Vasa Fitness offered tours of its new Joliet fitness center Friday, the day before its opening Saturday in the North Ridge Plaza at Larkin Avenue and Theodore Street.

The 60,000-square-foot fitness center built in space last occupied by an Ultra Foods supermarket has a panorama of fitness machines and weights visible upon entry and has some features particular to Joliet.

“We design purposely for an open concept,” said Mindi Bridges, chief brand and marketing officer for Vasa. “You’ll always have a line of sight so you can see everything.”

Bridges described the $9.99 basic membership package as covering “anything that’s not behind a door.”

Behind the doors are a three-lane swimming pool, a basketball court and a few studios for high-intensity interval training, yoga classes, dance and other activities.

Vasa Fitness has 50 fitness centers in seven states, most of them west of the Mississippi River. The company is new to Illinois, having recently opened in Villa Park and now in Joliet for its second location in the state.

VASA Fitness staff gives a tour for their a new location in the North Ridge Plaza in Joliet which features Studio Red, a high intensity interval training program. Friday, Feb. 11, 2022, in Joliet.

Joliet has more Olympic weights and more punching bags than any other Vasa club, said Hillary Steckler, director of facility design for Vasa.

“We know that in Illinois there’s a lot of interest in boxing,” Steckler said.

There are bags on the main floor and more on a mezzanine that came with the building. Vasa put it to use mainly for what it calls community space – chairs and tables for people to gather.

“Vasa is a place to get fit and build community,” Bridges said.

VASA Fitness opened a new location in the North Ridge Plaza in Joliet. Friday, Feb. 11, 2022, in Joliet.

People are welcome to stop in for a tour and should not expect a hard-sell pitch, she said. Nor should they worry about fitting in with a fit crowd.

“We’re very inclusive at Vasa,” Bridges said. “We welcome people at all fitness levels.”

Among features designed to appeal to the local market is a graphic of the Chicago skyline in the cycling room. It’s a view from Millennium Park, and the bicycles are equipped to give the feel of riding through the city, Steckler said.

VASA Fitness opened a new location in the North Ridge Plaza in Joliet. Friday, Feb. 11, 2022, in Joliet.

“In Arizona, we have cactus plants,” Steckler said of the graphics found in other cycling rooms in the Vasa network. “In Colorado, where I’m from, we have mountains. Each state gets a signature graphic.”

In Joliet, Vasa has renovated a space that was empty for nearly four years. It is the latest reuse in the North Ridge Plaza, where a Portillo’s Pick Up restaurant opened less than two weeks ago.

VASA Fitness opened a new location in the North Ridge Plaza in Joliet. Friday, Feb. 11, 2022, in Joliet.

Portillo’s tore down a former IHOP restaurant and rebuilt on the site for its first to-go only restaurant. Meanwhile, there are plans to build a Starbucks cafe on a section of the parking lot outside Vasa Fitness.

Joliet Mayor Bob O’Dekirk joined a ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday for Vasa Fitness and told the new occupants, “This is a really impressive facility.”

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By Betty C. Giordano

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