After 27 years in the Rose City Park neighborhood, Roseway neighbor George Comalli’s Hollywood Fitness Center at 5223 N.E. Sandy Blvd. has carved out a friendly niche in the community and recently completed another expansion to improve access and services for neighbors.
“I still love coming to work,” said Comalli. “Every week someone will tell me that they are off of their high-blood-pressure medication, or that – during chemo – the gym was the only thing that kept them going. We have been a muse to enrich and change lives for thousands of our neighbors. Who wouldn’t want to come to work, when you can have an impact like that?”
Originally known as “Giant’s Gym,” Comalli changed the name of the center to “Hollywood Fitness” five years ago.
“The name change has been a big part of our success,” said Comalli. “With our changing demographics and culture, the re-branding was essential. That old name, ‘Giants Gym,’ wasn’t very welcoming to our market. We excel at helping folks who might be intimidated by going to a gym – and we want people to know that’s who we are. Hollywood Fitness is the only independent club in Portland that’s open and staffed 24 hours a day. We believe in old-fashioned customer service. That comes from personal relationships that we earn every day. Our club has a full time staff who clean eight hours a day and a maintenance person who keeps the machines and facility up to our standards. I truly believe in offering more services for less money than the big corporate clubs. We even have a fix-it button on our phone app, so people can let me know directly – 24 hours a day – of any concerns or needs.”
Comalli started with 6500-square-feet at Giant’s Gym in 1990 and, by expanding into neighboring commercial space, Hollywood Fitness Center now boasts 12,000-square-feet of modern equipment.
“Our expansion started from day one,” said Comalli. “Taking over a dilapidated gym with no showers, drinking fountain or proper locker room, I removed the suspended ceiling in the main warehouse, built a locker room, built showers, and slowly started buying out other clubs and their equipment. I added a cardio room, razed the walls and expanded the main workout area, added a class area, and recently one more cardio room. I’ve also added 30 tons of air conditioning, over the last two years, to accommodate our hotter summers.”
Comalli began his career in the neighborhood at Sylvia’s Italian Restaurant & Class Act Dinner Theater, which was located for many years in the building at 5115 N.E. Sandy Boulevard – now home to the Laurelwood Brew Pub.
“I was working next door as the producer and artistic director at Sylvia’s,” said Comalli. “I had a membership at the gym and I wanted to work for myself, so I made an offer to buy the business. I worked all day, opening the gym at 5:30 a.m. and then waiting tables at night to make ends meet. I did that for two years, seven days a week because I believed so strongly in the gym. It’s a labor of love. I will never stop trying to improve the space, the quality of equipment, or having a stellar staff that cares about our members.”
Hollywood Fitness offers personal training, dozens of cardio machines and group fitness with a variety of classes. The center’s competitive pricing is tiered at $19 or $29 a month with a $29 annual set-up fee and membership includes free parking.
“The neighborhood has grown and changed over the years with a new and younger generation adding energy and vibrancy to the area,” said Comalli. “I love being close to the food carts next door and seeing more businesses thrive. I tell people that Hollywood Fitness is a ‘vegetarian’ gym … with no ‘meat market’ and no ‘meatheads.’ Just a local gym that is casual, comfortable, and clean.”
For more information, call 503-281-4776 or visit www.hollywoodfitness.net.