Luke Ellis works out at Fightanium gym in Oneida. (Independent Herald photo/Ben Garrett)
Luke Ellis works out at Fightanium gym in Oneida. (Independent Herald photo/Ben Garrett)

Changing the community’s attitude about fitness.

That’s what Fightanium owner Steve Salter says his new gym is all about.

Salter, who recently opened Fightanium on Litton Road at the Oak Grove intersection, said the new gymnasium is quickly catching on.

“We’re just trying to change the attitude about fitness and create a positive atmosphere,” Salter said.

Fightanium actually opened in November 2013 in Northtown Plaza. But with limited space and a growing clientele, Salter quickly began seeking a new location.

“We had a big demand for strength training equipment, which there was no room for at the old place, and we had a mix of male and female clients and a younger crowd,” Salter said of the need to change locations. “We’re just trying to change the attitude about fitness and create a positive atmosphere.”

The move has paid off. Prior to the change in location, Fightanium had eight members. Now it’s up to 27, and quickly growing.

The gym offers a mix of free weights, Nautilus-style workout equipment and skill training. In addition to open hours from 12 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, the gym offers a variety of weekly and monthly programs that vary from yoga to dance to mixed martial arts, strength training, strength and conditioning for athletes and self defense.

Salter serves as the trainer for some of those classes, but also has four other trainers on staff.

“There are a lot of people here with excellent talent in fitness, weightlifting and mixed martial arts,” Salter said. “This was a way to give them a career path, a way to grow that into something they can actually do for a living.”

Salter, who has been into mixed martial arts himself since the age of 12, said he hopes the gym can help change people’s image of the training.

“We don’t want people to just see what they see on TV; we want them to see what happens behind the scenes,” Salter said. “The truth is, you can get in great shape and get the same kind of workout and skills as professionally-trained athletes without ever actually having to enter the cage and go into full contact.”

Membership to the 8,000 sq. ft. gym is $40 per month, or $5 for walk-in sessions for non-members. Membership includes all classes.

“It’s a reasonable price,” Salter said. “We’re in that economy where the price makes a big difference.”

A big part of what Salter is trying to do is to create a family-type atmosphere that make people feel at home. To that end, Fightanium even includes an area where small children can watch movies and play while their moms — or dads — work out.

“We want the atmosphere to be structured around the positive development of people’s skills, structured around getting in shape, while making them feel a little more at home,” Salter said. “It was a risky concept, but I think it’s worth the risk. We’re discovering people who have a lot of talent, and they’re not only starting to get certifications but they’re starting to make some money from that talent, as well.”

Fightanium is not Salter’s first business venture. He also owns Big South Fork Outdoor Adventures and is currently involved in another start-up business venture as well.

So why is he willing to invest in the community at a time when the economic conditions scare many would-be investors away?

“It’s the people here,” he said. “They have a lot of talent. I have faith in them; i trust them. And they’re very motivated and driven. They just have the right attitude, really. That’s what magnitizes me to them to want to help them out and build something.”