Personal training guru Larry North is getting out of downtown.
The sign out front at West 6th and Commerce Streets still says Larry North Fitness, but that will change soon. North has sold the Fort Worth end of his North Texas fitness empire after 24 years.
North's former fitness director Stephen Newhart bought him out on Feb. 1. Under Newhart's ownership, the 16,000-square-foot downtown gym will be known as Vigor Active.
"Because he's worked so closely with me, it makes for a very unique transition," North told the Star-Telegram in a telephone interview. "We're going to be funneling new members in his direction. We want him to be massively successful. He's a young, up-and-coming entrepreneur with big ideas."
Newhart, 34, is a Ph.D student and an adjunct professor in UT Arlington's kinesiology department. He said he is on schedule to finish his degree in May 2019, but he isn't waiting until then to take the reins of his own business.
"You don't get this type of opportunity every day," Newhart said.
The gym has around 550 members, he said, although that number was higher before XTO Energy announced that it would move 1,600 jobs from its building four blocks away, at 810 Houston St., to the company's Houston campus.
"That certainly made my decision [to sell] a little easier," North said.
To take the gym from where it is now to where he wants it to be, Newhart says he's got contractors lined up to renovate the locker rooms, and he'll update the cardio equipment, but that's run-of-the-mill gym stuff.
He also wants to give clients a better feel for the science behind their workout.
"We're not struggling, but for me, building the business to a healthy level means doubling the membership," Newhart said. "To where it's not overcrowded, but a humongous success. The landlord says those XTO spaces will have new tenants as soon as XTO pulls out, so I look at it as a new group of people to help out."
Newhart, who insists that squats are the best, most functional exercise in the gym, is an Arlington Lamar graduate who played football under the late Eddy Peach.
North said he will continue to sit on the Fit Worth advisory board. He still operates three DFW gyms, including his location in Westlake's Solana development, which opened in 2013. He said he's writing a new book and a new weight-loss program.
"He's been a great mentor through the whole thing," Newhart said of North. "From starting with him as a trainer in 2008, through all he's taught me, I'm ready to start my own fitness brand now."