If you’re a beginner gym-goer like me (and even “beginner” is a little far-fetched), it’s easy to be intimidated by Next Step Performance’s new space.
Besides the sight of owner Ivan Black, who seems to be in perfect shape, the new training studio, located in the 1500 Condominiums in Harrisburg, is filled with foreign equipment and weights that look like they could snap my arm in half.
But Black expects exactly that reaction when people first walk in.
It’s then his job to make them feel comfortable regardless of their fitness level—and in spite of the iron, machines and other equipment staring you down as you enter the location on N. 6th Street, directly across the street from where other heavy equipment (cranes, bulldozers, etc.) are erecting the new federal courthouse.
Black makes you feel at ease through his easy manner and infectious smile, as well as the group and individual workout sessions he’s developed that fit a wide range of fitness levels. With the new location, Black expects to help even more people get into shape.
“Inside of one movement, a top-notch athlete and a beginner can both perform them with relative safety, at their own pace, and it can be progressive for both of them,” he said.
Black opened Next Step Performance four years ago because of his love of exercise, movement and health.
“I love fitness for everything that it provides—aesthetic, health under the hood—but also for confidence, self-esteem and psychological maintenance,” he said.
As much as he liked his original location at the corner of N. 3rd and Herr streets, he admits that there were times when he felt claustrophobic because of the snug size. Not only is the new location more spacious for members (especially in a group setting,) but, according to Black, it also helps motivate them.
“It’s not just the added size, but that everything has a place—everything is clean, everything is put together,” he said. “So, there’s inspiration that comes from a space that’s designed with heart. You get here, and you’re like, ‘Woah, OK. It’s time to work out.’”
The new space was originally brought to his attention in March by one of his members. His lease on the 3rd Street building was coming to an end, so he thought, “Why not see if I can move?”
He scoured the city looking for a new place, but didn’t find anything that seemed like a good fit (no parking, too expensive, etc.). He was settling into the idea of staying in his old storefront until a member approached him about the 1500 Condominiums space. He fell in love with it, and, in early August, officially moved in.
Along with a bigger workout room, the new space comes equipped with a shower and two bathrooms. He also has a built-in customer base, literally—building residents living just above him who are eager to train. With more people looking to work out and a space to inspire them, Black is creating a motivational environment for his Next Step community.
Black provides at least two group workout sessions, six days a week. He said that he focuses on group sessions because of their ability to help people motivate and push themselves.
“Working out consistently is a challenge,” he said. “When you’re working out by yourself, for some, that can be pure misery. So, we try to get you into a space where you’re a little more comfortable.”
For those who feel better outside of a group setting and are tired of traditional gyms, Black offers individual and small group training. He also has a seven-day, free trial for people who want to try out the gym without immediate commitment. After that, members pay a monthly subscription that they can cancel at any time.
Right now, Black has nearly 80 members, but he’s always looking for more.
“To be able to have all these tools available and to come up with a unique recipe for the individual to be better out there, for a little guy from Elmont (N.Y.), you feel good about the effect you have on the world, even if it’s a small part,” he said.