New CrossFit gym leases the former Steak Pit space

by Curtis Wackerle, Aspen Daily News Staff Writer

The long-time site of a steak and potatoes restaurant in Aspen is under lease to become the town’s second CrossFit gym.

CrossFit 81611, run by Tal Aviram of Aspen, is looking to open in February in the former Steak Pit space at the corner of Hopkins Avenue and Monarch Street, but Aviram declined to discuss his plans in detail until he secures permits from the city building department to finish converting the former restaurant.

The 3,500-square-foot, subgrade space was rented for $27 per square foot, plus the terms of a triple-net lease that covers insurance and building maintenance costs, said Lex Tarumianz with Pyramid Property Advisors, which manages the building. The lease does not include the smaller neighboring pub space that was home to the Pitkin County Tavern and the Double Dog prior to that.

The Steak Pit’s former kitchen was demolished and the equipment sold off, Tarumianz noted, freeing up the entire space to become what’s known as a “box” in the parlance of CrossFit, a fitness craze that incorporates fast-paced circuit training and mind-bending physical accomplishments.

For example, the CrossFit workout known as “the Murph,” named for Lt. Michael P. Murphy, a Navy SEAL who was killed in Afghanistan in 2005, is a 1-mile run, followed by 100 pull-ups, 200 push-ups and 300 squats, followed by another 1-mile run. Murphy was known to do the workout once a week wearing body armor, according to an article in the New York Times.

“It gets you ripped, from what I hear,” Tarumianz said of CrossFit. “You can be walking around all summer with your shirt off if you sign up by February.”

Aspen CrossFit, located in the Airport Business Center, was opened in May 2010 by Erik Jon Larson. Reached on Tuesday, he said he is not worried about a new competing CrossFit gym in town. Aspen CrossFit now has 150 members and continues to grow, Larson said.

For many, CrossFit is about more than zapping body fat; it’s a lifestyle that includes a diet of meat and vegetables, and eliminating starches and most sugars, and a dedication to “igniting human potential,” as Aspen CrossFit’s web page banner proclaims.

Larson said his classes incorporate life lessons, as well as physical conditioning.

“You don’t just walk in and do a workout; it’s far beyond that,” he said. “I’m not threatened by this other gym at all.”

CrossFit is not cheap — “You get what you pay for,” Larson said — and at the ABC an unlimited membership costs $199 per month, although Larson said he gives discounts for certain groups like first responders and ski instructors.

Aviram said he is still running the numbers and could not say what he would charge for his in-town gym.

As far as going head-to-head against the more established local CrossFit gym, Aviram said he will be “offering different things.” CrossFit is often different things to different people, he said.

“We do it our own way — everyone has a little different take on it,” he said. “But we want to have a good viable business in town and be a part of the community.”

The new CrossFit space was most recently occupied by the Pitkin County Steakhouse, which was operated by restaurateur Rob Seideman until September 2011. At that point, the restaurant abruptly closed after building owners Ron Garfield and Andy Hecht informed the operation that its lease was being canceled after a slow summer of business. Prior to Seideman’s stewardship, the space had been home to the Steak Pit since 1993.

The space that housed the smaller pub — known as the Double Dog until Seideman took over and renamed it the Pitkin County Tavern — is still unleased. Tarumianz said one option could be to install a smaller kitchen and make it a pub again, but there also could be more opportunities in the health and wellness realm.