Some people might call opening a fitness center whose parking lot is shared with the Y a ballsy move.
Tom Baker calls it complementary.
Aspire Fitness — Tom’s new business on the top floor of Banana Republic (the entrance is in the back, off Elm Street) — is a “holistic studio.” He wants members to really know each other — and Tom promises that he and his staff will play an important role in members’ lives, helping them deal with stress, nutrition, even sleep routines.
The Y, he says, offers a different product.
“I’m a big supporter of the Y. It’s a great place,” he says.
“Aspire is a holistic, very personal service. Some people don’t want to be bothered — they just want to go somewhere, work out, and be done.”
Tom is no new-age newcomer to town. He spent part of his youth in Westport, and attended Staples for a while before his family moved to South America.
After college he worked in advertising, finance and real estate. But fitness and well-being were always passions. Tom was frustrated by the constant changes he saw in the field.
“People get really confused about health and wellness,” he says. “Every day there’s a different story about what to eat, or what not to eat. And a lot of fitness center trainers just don’t look out for you.”
That’s what Aspire aspires to. Tom plans 1-on-1 and group training, nutritional consultations — an approach tailored to each member’s needs.
He also wants Aspire to be community oriented. He plans events with downtown businesses like Lululemon. The Studio 44 dance center already occupies space next to Aspire; Tom hopes to partner with them in some way.
“I’m up for anything local,” Tom says. “Yoga, spinning studios, cycling places — I’m trying to step away from the feeling that we’re competitors. We can actually do unique events together, and introduce people to new places and things to do. Anything to make Westport more healthy, aware and active.”
Tom researched locations for a long time, before setting on his quasi-hometown. He thinks Westport is “on the verge of becoming a hip destination.” New construction on Church Lane, and the new Nike store on Main Street — he’s smack in between both — along with what he calls the P&Z’s “initiative to make downtown more vibrant” excite him.
“That’s my approach too,” Tom says.
Not a bad thing to aspire to.
(Aspire Fitness plans a soft opening early next week. A grand opening will take place after Labor Day.)