Sledgehammers and sweat at the Arts District’s first gym

Partners in pain Branden Collinsworth (left) and Paul Rosenberg will make you ache—in the best possible way.
Photo: Sam Morris

The sledgehammer hangs in the air for a moment above my head, at the top of its arc from tractor tire to sky and back again. There’s a moment of weightlessness, then metal hits rubber with a satisfying smack. Paul Rosenberg’s voice cracks my self-congratulatory silence, “Harder, Feldberg!”

I didn’t even come here to work out. Twenty minutes ago, I showed up at Real Results Fitness in a dress and with a notebook, ready to observe the group training sessions that are the hallmark of Rosenberg and partner Branden Collinsworth’s Downtown studio. But before I had the chance to mention dinner reservations at Lotus in an hour or plead that I’d already worked out today, Rosenberg pointed me toward the battling ropes and conscripted me into class.

An energetic soundtrack fills the gym while a handful of people lift, jog and jump through personalized circuits under Rosenberg’s tough-love direction. One woman runs in short bursts on the treadmill, another throws a medicine ball against the ground, twisting left and right. A short, sweaty man keeps hoisting a punching bag onto his shoulder and running out the front door onto Commerce Street.

The Details

Real Results Fitness
1201 S. Commerce St., 592-9286.

Opened in May by Rosenberg and Collinsworth, Real Results isn’t your typical gym. Instead of signing up clients and leaving them to their own devices, the partners, along with two other trainers, offer group sessions that combine the social aspect of a larger class with the individualized attention of personal training. New clients complete an intensive orientation and physical that establishes their current level of fitness and sets goals for where they want to be. Hoping to run your first 5K? No problem. Want to craft abs like Ryan Lochte’s? Let’s do it. Only half-committed to working your ass off? You should probably find another gym.

The initial Real Results program runs 12 weeks with three weekly sessions at the gym, extra workouts on off days and a comprehensive nutrition plan. The program costs $240 a month—more than your average gym membership but well below the cost of working out with a personal trainer as frequently. (Pre-portioned Real Meals are available for an extra fee.)

Rosenberg, who’s spent 20 years training out of places like Gold’s and LVAC, specializes in weight loss and is known around the gym as the “master of before and afters.” Vegas native Collinsworth’s expertise lies in sports fitness and athletic training. He’s also the founder of Jump for Joy, a nonprofit that holds free fitness camps for kids.

“They were heavy competitors with each other,” says COO Anthony Alegrete of the two partners. “They joined forces earlier this year. They fell platonically in love.”

And Downtown has fallen in love with them. While the Arts Factory has long been home to a yoga studio, and Johnny Tocco’s boxing gym is a Charleston landmark, Real Results is the first general-purpose gym to set up shop in the Arts District. Alegrete says 65 percent of Real Results’ clients live or work Downtown, and the gym throws monthly block parties to spread the word and invite neighbors in to see what’s behind the murals on their colorful façade (and why people keep carrying punching bags down the street). A small fitness shop at the front of the warehouse is in the works, and showers are under construction in the back. Yoga classes are now being offered a few times a week, and the Real Results crew goes on regular field trips to hike at Red Rock or bounce at the local trampoline gym.

Perhaps most importantly, Real Results is a comfortable place to break a sweat. It lacks the pretension of some boutique gyms, where everyone seems to join after getting in shape and spend more time flexing into the mirror than actually exercising.

“This place is real raw,” says Alegrete. “It has character.” Much like the neighborhood itself.

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