Rise Nation falls victim to pandemic and trims two of its three Denver gyms

Rise Nation features upright cardio machines. (Courtesy of Rise Nation)

Rise Nation will soon be down to its last Denver location.

Two out of the three Hollywood-based fitness brand’s franchise locations, where class participants climb on upright cardio machines, have fallen victim to the pandemic, according to owner Avrum Elmakis. The Cherry Creek location will remain open.

“People are scared,” Elmakis said. “I personally don’t understand how it’s OK to go to a bar and take your mask off, but at a gym, you have to work out with a mask on. As a business owner, it doesn’t make sense to operate with severe limitations like capacity restraints. No one builds a plan around 20 to 50 percent occupancy.”

Avrum Elmakis

Elmakis plans to permanently close Rise Nation’s Denver Tech Center location at 4930 S. Yosemite St. by the end of December.

He opened the approximately 3,000-square-foot gym in December 2019 but was forced to close nearly four months later due to the pandemic. It reopened for group classes in June, but he said member return has been down 50 percent.

“This location was meant and designed to be a destination for people working in the Denver Tech Center, and occupancy rates are down massively,” Elmakis said. “It’s particularly challenging to be a business, let alone a startup, in that area right now.”

Rise Nation’s Highlands location, which opened in September 2019 at 3420 W. 32nd Ave., never fully reopened for group classes after the shutdown. Since Elmakis still has at least five years left on the lease, the entrepreneur plans to turn it into a virtual studio for his fitness machine startup, CLMBR.

CLMBR, which Elmakis introduced to the market in April, is an 8-foot-tall stationary climbing device similar to a stair climber with hand pegs. It uses both the upper and lower body for a high-intensity cardio workout combined with resistance training.

Elmakis’ CLMBR team will use the approximately 2,000-square-foot former Highlands gym to record tutorial and workout videos for the machine’s user interface, he said.

“Fortunately for CLMBR, more consumers are turning to at-home workout machines,” Elmakis said. “But it hasn’t been so easy for Rise Nation.”

However, business at Rise Nation’s soon-to-be remaining location at 155 Saint Paul St. in Cherry Creek has been stable. Elmakis said he plans to keep that operation running.

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