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WorkinCT: New gym takes a chance on downtown Hartford

HARTFORD -- The sign on the wall at WIP Fitness explains the goals: Spartan at Fenway, run a 5K, pushup from my toes. They are all things the people at WIP Fitness in downtown Hartford are working toward.

But it’s not just the workout enthusiasts who are putting in effort. This is the third location for WIP Fitness and a brand new adventure in downtown Hartford.

“It’s got its own energy, its own attributes and we’re just thrilled to be part of what’s happening down here,” said Mary Kate Doyle, one of the owners of WIP Fitness.

Doyle and her business partner Laura Keever said they looked at other locations in suburbs in the greater Hartford area, but something about downtown Hartford excited them. Even with the city’s budget problems, they say the potential is there.

“We’re right on Pratt Street, so we’re in the heart of the city. UConn is right down the street. We have all these great businesses, residence towers all around us,” said Laura Keever, another owner of WIP Fitness.

That allows them to tap into a different clientele for their gym.

“The great thing about WIP Downtown is that we’re seeing students, we’re seeing business men and women, we’re seeing residents of Hartford, and then we’re also seeing our clients in some of those suburban areas,” said Keever.

“We’ve got the corporate set that come before work. They can sleep in a little bit later, come to our 7 a.m. class, get showered, be at their desk by 8:15. We’ve got people sneaking in on their lunch break. We’ve got people who live around the corner,” said Doyle.

Kimberly Bishop works nearby and said it’s really convenient.

“I actually work on Pratt Street, so it’s really amazing to have a gym so close. I think it brings a lot to the street. It brings a lot to downtown, and as a young professional, I’m always looking for new and fun ways to work out, and WIP has just been absolute pleasure,” said Bishop.

WIP Fitness is hoping that it’s not just a pleasure for the people who come to work out, but also an addition to the downtown Hartford community that provides services to the people who work and live there.

“Hartford is on fire right now,” said Doyle. “Every time we walk down the street, there’s a new store popping up, a new restaurant, a new bar. We’ve got UConn, Yard Goats, it’s been so exciting.”