Nate Costa, CEO of FX Studio, gives a tour of Under Armour's new Under Armour Performance Center at 10 Light Street. (Algerina Perna/Baltimore Sun video)
Nate Costa spent three years envisioning how a state-of-the-art gym could take hold in a 1920s-era former Baltimore bank with sweeping stone staircases, marble columns and a vault with three-foot-thick walls.
The gym, a collaboration between Costa's FX Studios and Under Armour, opened May 2 in the historic 10 Light Street building downtown, which developer Metropolitan Partnership has transformed from offices into more than 400 apartments in an $80 million renovation.
Costa, president and CEO of FX Studios and personal trainer for Under Armour founder Kevin Plank, said the new location managed to breath life into an architecturally significant building while re-imagining the traditional gym.
The idea, said Costa, owner of two other Under Armour-branded FX Studio gyms, was to house everything today's athletes need to stay fit, healthy and looking good under one roof -- a gym, spa, salon, physical therapy practice, retail area and cafe with salads and smoothies.
"All these pieces together deliver the ultimate experience," he said.
The Under Armour Performance Center already has 1,000 members and could grow to 3,000 members or more, he said. Interest so far has been strong, with employees leading tours on a regular basis. Memberships run $50 a month, he said.
At the heart of the 50,000-square-foot project is a gym and fitness center in the former bank's cavernous lobby. Weights and benches fill areas behind former tellers' stations, while 74 cardio machines on a mezzanine overlook a padded open floor where members can work out with trainers or on their own.
Many features of the building completed in 1929 by Baltimore Trust Co. remain intact, such as a row of wood-paneled elevator doors and a heavy silver vault door along the corridor to the spa's "tranquilty area."
"We looked at how to celebrate the space and still make it functional," Costa said during a tour of the center on Friday.
The former bank's safe deposit vault proved one of the biggest remodeling challenges, Costa said. Workers spent weeks drilling through thick concrete and steel walls. Now, a massive vault door frames the entryway to a members lounge filled with armchairs and flat-screen TVs.
What Costa described as a "training model" for the gym grew out of his own background as a trainer. Before he bought FX Studios in Hunt Valley, he had worked with the business to expand it from a salon to a fitness center staffed by trainers, a model he built upon. He met Plank, an investor in FX, about 10 years ago and became his personal trainer. He still works with Plank several times a week.
Under the FX model, the gym offers memberships or provides space for athletes to work with their FX trainers.
Much of the facility is open to the public, including the FX Salon, with nine private hair salon rooms and a blow dry bar; the FX Spa, offering massage and other services; the FX Physical Therapy practice; and a cafe that will open next week, featuring grab-and-go meals. A retail area that serves as the center's entrance displays Under Armour workout gear plus its suite of fitness tracking devices, UA Healthbox. Costa said all new fitness club members get assessed by trainers on movement, fitness and lifestyle, and are encouraged to work with those devices to track activity, sleep and nutrition.
Besides the 10 Light Street location, Costa runs Under Armour Performance Centers in Hunt Valley and at the athletic apparel maker's Locust Point headquarters. He and Under Armour have no plans to partner on additional locations, at least for now.