Firm fans will be singing “mm mm mmm mmm mmm we love this barre” beginning Saturday, March 11, when the hot pink gym sets up shop in the former Toby Keith’s location at West End in St. Louis Park. “The location, parking, restaurants, and shops will make it fun for clients to shop first and then work out, or work out, then dine, drink, and socialize,” says Greta Ertl, director of client services and longtime yoga and barre instructor at The Firm.
The boutique fitness studio, which serves up everything from Jane Fonda-style vintage aerobics, yoga, and barre to cycle, HIIT, and CrossFit, will host its final sweats in the North Loop on Tuesday, March 7.
The first-ring suburb’s “safe, small business-friendly” hotspot may bring new clientele through the doors. “The location is perfect for our existing clients and new people looking for a fun, vibrant, and supportive community. We’re very excited to have greater accessibility, visibility, and walkability,” Ertl says. “…We have the opportunity to spread The Firm mission to a much broader audience, and we’re so excited about all the wonderful opportunities the future holds.”
At the center of West End, it’s no mistake that The Firm’s new hub rubs elbows with (or should we say throws elbows at?) super sweaters Life Time and Orange Theory. “We are excited to operate with a lean and mean utilitarian floor plan right out of the gates,” Ertl says.
Early in 2020, The Firm was poised for the best year in its 35-year history, until the pandemic-mandated shutdown brought the world to a standstill. The move, spurred by changes in the local landscape of fitness after the pandemic and civil unrest, is nine months in the making.
The Firm needed a space that would house its trifecta of offerings: open space for a gym and studios for class offerings, including personal training. The footprint of the new building, part of a recent acquisition by Hempel Real Estate, will be smaller than the current double-decker setup—but the downsize is simply to eliminate some underutilized space in The Firm’s current blueprint. “At the nth hour, a longtime Firm client came to us with the opportunity to consider the former Toby Keith’s space,” Ertl says. “We’re thrilled about this new, open concept space that gets us back to our roots of community, customer engagement, and a tighter, more intimate energy.”
As anyone whose ever put their life in boxes can tell you: Moving isn’t easy. In her 37-year lifetime, The Firm has moved seven times (and she’s still going strong!). Aiming for the smallest possible closure gap between locations for clients and staff, the team anticipates craziness. “It will be a fire drill; it will be a challenge; it will take the help of everyone,” Ertl says. “This will be a testament to our community. People have been raising their hands to help since the announcement, and we are saying yes to everyone. This is a relationship-building opportunity for The Firm community.”
The current Firm building and property on Second Avenue North, near International Market Square, is pending sale. “Selling the property is what allowed us to move The Firm brand forward and transform into a smaller footprint,” Ertl says.
The hop to St. Louis Park is part of a larger relocation this year, with a permanent location anticipated to roll out in the fall. No details yet on a final location though. “Once we get settled into the new space, we will continue conversations regarding longer-term accommodations,” Ertl says. “Many unexpected invitations arose through the process of selling our property that led to exciting conversations about potential collaborations.”
1623 Park Place Blvd., St. Louis Park, 612-377-3003, thefirmmpls.com
February 22, 2023