Business & Real Estate

Exercise studios a good "fit" for El Camino Real

Courtesy of Candy Smolik
Candy Smolik, right, demonstrates a fitness technique at Fit Theory, her El Camino Real studio. Fit Theory, located in the old Mohr Clocks building, is one of two fitness centers in Los Altos along El Camino. Zoning restrictions prevent such tenants from leasing vacant retail space downtown.

Candy Smolik didn’t expect to move her fitness studio to a space previously occupied by a clock store, but the location on El Camino Real in Los Altos was too good to pass up.

It’s proving to be the perfect fit for Fit Theory.

“My experience on El Camino so far has been great,” said Smolik, whose studio replaced Mohr Clocks. “It feels like a calm and welcoming community, and although I have been here just a short while, I notice how much people get out into the sunshine and smile.”

Fit Theory opened March 6 as a personal-training gym with a cardio room outfitted with treadmills, a rowing machine and specialized equipment.

Smolik said she is happy with her location at 4856 El Camino Real because she not only serves Los Altos residents, but also fitness enthusiasts from nearby Mountain View and Palo Alto. In addition, she said, “the spot allows for a bigger studio with lots of dedicated parking that may not be possible downtown Los Altos.”

Competition on the road

Fit Theory is not the only workout facility on the Los Altos stretch of El Camino. Barre3, which celebrated its two-year anniversary March 30, is just down the street. It is a group-class structure inspired by dance and Pilates.

The owners, sisters Gillian Brotherson and Megan Wilson, are happy to be on El Camino.

“Our location has been great. Our next-door neighbor is Whole Foods, so it’s an ideal spot on El Camino,” Brotherson said. “The (nearby) apartments are rented by Stanford, so there’s lots of foot traffic.”

Brotherson added that she and Wilson grew up in Los Altos and have “seen how El Camino has changed and grown a ton; we are excited about the potential.”

Down the street in Mountain View, there are several other fitness-related businesses. The movement may be connected to the city of Los Altos’ zoning rules restricting the businesses that can occupy downtown retail spaces.

According to a recent economic study the Land Econ Group prepared for the city, “Los Altos has zoning restrictions that prevent contemporary physical-fitness tenants from leasing vacant retail spaces.”

Fitness studios don’t generate as much tax revenue as retail shops, many of which have been hurt by competition from online retailers such as Amazon. Los Altos is considering changing the zoning ordinance for downtown to allow a wider array of tenants, which could bring more fitness studios.

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