Health & Fitness : New in town: Split Rock and Blitz Fitness
As you drive up State Road in West Tisbury it is hard to miss the large, familiar buildings like Cronig's or the fire station. It would, however, be quite easy to miss the new Split Rock Athletic Center, which is neatly tucked away just past the West Tisbury business district.
Located at 495 State Road, Split Rock offers the Island's only public racquetball court as well as an outdoor tennis court that is nearly ready for play. The building's second floor is the home of Blitz Fitness, a new fitness center offering classes ranging from spinning to martial arts.
The Split Rock building was built and is owned by West Tisbury contractor James Ferry. He set out to build an indoor tennis center at the same location, but he was unable to obtain permission from the town. Instead, he decided on a regulation racquetball court, which is 40 feet long, 20 feet wide, and 20 feet high. The court also includes a sound system, into which players can plug their iPods or music players to listen while they play.
Although the game somewhat resembles tennis, Mr. Ferry is quick to point out the differences.
"I'm a tennis player, so my swing is completely wrong for racquetball," he says. "I've really had to learn how to play. It's a great game, but it's hard." Mr. Ferry will also teach tennis lessons when the outdoor court opens this summer.
Aside from the indoor court, Split Rock is also unique because it is an un-manned center. The entire operation of the court is handled through an online scheduling system. Members who have signed a release form get access to the Split Rock website, where they can then pay and sign up for court time, which starts at $30 for one hour. You must be a member in order to buy time, but membership is open to anyone. So far, the system has been a success. "People have been great about respecting the court and cleaning up after themselves, and hopefully that will continue," Mr. Ferry said.
Under the same roof and up a flight of stairs from the racquetball court is Blitz Fitness, a brand-new martial arts and fitness facility. An entirely separate business from Split Rock, Blitz is owned and run by Catie Fuller, the former owner of Triangle Fitness in Edgartown, and Tim Merriman, the former Triangle karate instructor. As Mr. Merriman puts it, "We decided to ditch the machines and traditional gym setting for something new and different."
Blitz offers classes to both kids and adults, starting with children as young as four and including programs for seniors. The facility features a variety of specialized instructors and offers a long list of classes through the week, including Tae Kwon Do, Jiu Jitsu, Self-Defense, Boxing, Cardio Kickboxing, Spinning, Muscle Blaster, Boot Camp, Step and Pump, and Yoga. All the classes are held in the center's fitness studio.
Participants may sign up for a month's or a year's membership. The price is $79 a month, and a member may attend as many classes as he or she wishes. Alternatively, a pay-as-you-go option allows people to buy punch cards for individual classes. Those start at $15 per class, and the first class is free.
Ms. Fuller and Mr. Merriman have taken a new approach to fitness and teaching, and the transition has not been entirely seamless.
"We're still adapting to a new space, and we're working to build our clientele," Mr. Merriman says. However, as Blitz's "Always moving forward, never standing still" motto would suggest, it's a strategy appropriate to the business plan.
Despite the somewhat low profile of Split Rock and Blitz Fitness, each offers something unique.
Sam Griswold is a freelance writer living in West Tisbury.