South Pas Fitness, “South Pasadena’s newest premier fitness center,” as it is billed in their website has seen its fair share of ups and downs the last couple of years — from transforming a massive space into a sleekly-organized gym, to adapting to the COVID pandemic, owner Sava Markovic has resolutely stuck to his mission of bringing high quality facilities for members of all stages of personal fitness goals.
After over a year’s worth of renovating the hangar-style building located on the corner of Arroyo Dr. and Pasadena Ave — starting in August 2019 and physically opening in September 2020 — Markovic simply adheres to the principle, “If you build it, they will come.”
“We actually named our gym South Pas Fitness, because we wanted to have the namesake of where we are, so that they can take ownership and pride of it,” adds General Manager, Josch Lemon, who took up the position back in March 2020. For him, there are possibilities abound, hoping to make the business “not just a gym, but a destination”, to which Markovic agrees.
One of several local businesses that opened in the midst of the pandemic, South Pas Fitness initially encountered fears that most other businesses did at the time, unsure whether clients would brave leaving their homes. “We were panicking, thinking that it wasn’t gonna work,” admits Markovic, “but we went ahead and did it”. Taking advantage of a parking lot large enough to accommodate dozens of gym-goers, they transplanted much of their brand new equipment outdoors. “We started seeing people coming in; on certain nights this place was packed and it was like, ‘it’s true: if you build it, they will come!”
The gym boasts top-of-the-line fitness equipment; treadmills, bench presses, leg presses, home gyms, boxing training rooms, and ellipticals are just a few of the options. On top of also offering a variety of classes, the gym likes to call itself “basically a one stop shop for fitness.” Markovic explains, “A lot of the gyms, they focus only on certain things. You go to a CrossFit, it’s just CrossFit, if you go to a place that sells just classes it’s just classes, if you go to some of the big corporate ones, they’ll just focus on the machines and the cardio in the class.”
What sets them apart, says both Markovic and Lemon, is the ambition to fully realize the potential, with resources at their disposal in their combined sales and fitness experience as well as the layout of the space itself.
Sizing up the competition, Markovic notes that potential coming into effect, listing off the many facilities located within his gym’s walls. A functional training area, with kick bags and more; a wellness center, with focus on physical therapy including chiropractic, acupuncture, and massage options; locker rooms replete with amenities like towel services, shampoos, lotions, and hair dryers; and finally a coffee/juice bar, Kafana, which serves up protein shakes and smoothies to fuel up members.
Above all else, though, comes customer service. “That’s our number one goal,” Markovic emphasizes, confessing that while they “were not as well funded as all of these other big corporate gyms” they most definitely “rival them [in] the customer service and cleanliness… If you don’t like the staff then what’s the draw to make you go there if you don’t want to see those people every day? Our staff is some of the friendliest staff there is, they’re always helpful. We also have full-time cleaners, even after COVID [ends], cleaning the place constantly. No drips, sweatmarks on the floor, there’s not gonna be anything wet in the bathrooms, everything is going to be spotless.”
Sticking to that principle, the pair hopes to incentivize members to return as much as possible with several membership rates and discounts, which include options for students, seniors, and first responder/military personnel. “We’re also trying to get it for teachers as well,” says Lemon. Check online at www.southpasfitness.com/join-now for the most up-to-date information.
As California and Los Angeles County reopen, the eagerness to flourish is palpable. Now able to offer indoor and outdoor accommodations, Markovic and Lemon are looking to push their vision even further. Two infrared saunas, a possible restaurant on the second floor, and maybe even a DJ setup, are some of the more ambitious ideas floating around. “We have a lot of ideas that we want to institute here,” notes Lemon, “We want to make the city and the people who live here proud of it, and want them to come here and talk about it to their friends and family and invite more people.”
For prospective members, many questions can be answered online or on the phone, but what truly convinces them is seeing the facilities in person. “We still have people buying online, but it’s definitely not as much as it used to be. Most people drive by and they want to come and take a look at the place before they sign up,” says Markovic with Lemon adding “We get to show them around and then they’re sold after that.”