Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Vince Gardley reopens Riviera Fitness following leasing dispute

The spacious facility is equipped with two floors of machinery and other
equipment in the Whitehaven area. (Courtesy photos)
Fitness guru Vince Gardley is recovering from the ouster of his fitness center in the Whitehaven Plaza after the landlord, Finard Properties, decided not to renew a conflicting leasing agreement.
After less than two years into what he thought was a 10-year agreement, Gardley vacated the building at 4130 Elvis Presley Blvd., but eventually found a new home for Riviera Fitness in the Southland Mall Shopping Center on Shelby Drive, just 1.20 miles south of the former location.
Gardley learned in April that he had to vacate the building by October. Now he’s opened for business and trying to recoup as much of his losses as possible, including 15 percent of the members who joined other spas and fitness centers during the hiatus.
Vince Gardley celebrates with Councilwoman
Patrice J. Robinson during the reopening of
Riviera Fitness.
“It’s a much nicer, larger facility,” said Gardley, who had to break down, transport and re-install several elliptical machines, tread climbers, punching bags, upright cycling bikes, rowing machines, weight benches, and other cardio exercise equipment.
“It was labor intensive, a lot of work to do,” he said. “We had to do it all in a certain time frame. We did a six-month move in a month and two weeks. It’s unprecedented. Everybody in the gym industry I spoke with said, ‘Vince, you need five to six months to do that.’”
Gardley and his team worked night and day to get Riviera Fitness up and running again. But he wasn’t content having to vacate the fitness center in the Whitehaven Plaza at a moment’s notice. He’d purchased the business from a Utah resident, but the lease wasn’t transferrable.  
 “My attorney told me, ‘Vince, sell everything and get the hell out of there.’ I listened to them. They’ve been down this road before. They know what they’re doing. But when I looked at the effect we’ve had on people, I had to stay.”
He had to stay for the 96-year-old man who could barely walk before making a move to the treadmill. “I had to stay particularly for my people,” said Gardley, whose members are as young as 12 and as old as 97. “So I signed a 10-year lease and re-opened. And most of the members followed me.”
Riviera Fitness is not just a gym in a box, he said. “I want to be a complete fitness health center to help people, their lifestyle…longevity…their quality of life. That’s our goal.”
Vince Gardley working out the kinks after moving
the tonnage of exercise machinery to his new location.
Members now can take advantage of “two floors of fitness.” The weight equipment is located on the first level, including a 70 x 80 foot heavy equipment room. The upstairs is artificial turf for members who play football, soccer and rugby. There is a punching bag, rooms for classes, and other equipment as well.
“We offer everything now,” said Gardley. “My whole focus is to take care of my folks in Whitehaven and take care of my folks in Memphis. I believe if you take care of people, everything will take care of itself.”
Whitehaven is on the precipice of change. Construction and redevelopment are ongoing along Elvis Presley Boulevard, where The Guest House at Graceland, which is adjacent to Elvis Presley’s mansion, was just completed. It’s billed as a world-class hotel.
Riviera Fitness is strategically located in the mall – near the Graceland hotel and Interstate 55 – and will benefit from the influx of tourists and new development along a three-mile stretch of Elvis Presley Boulevard, courtesy of money from the city and state.
Former City Council member and mayoral hopeful Harold Collins led the charge to spruce up the famous gateway leading into the Whitehaven community that comprises the mostly 50,000 African-Americans.
“It’s an incredible area for folks,” said Gardley. “We want to service everybody we can and get them healthy.”
His motto: “The greatest wealth is health.”

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