CHATHAM – It's taken nearly three years, but Lindsay and Fred Bierwirth's vision of creating a combined fitness center and co-working space has finally come to fruition.
“There were certainly many, many times when we thought this day would never come,” Fred Bierwirth said Monday during a ribbon cutting for the new facility at 323 Orleans Rd. in North Chatham. But even then, with the building's occupancy permit still not issued, he looked upon the “bump in the road” as “kind of a serenity prayer moment, one of many we've encountered along the way.”
Lindsay Bierwirth, who grew up in Chatham, said she viewed the new business as a gift to the town. “I want everyone to feel like this is your place, to come and feel healthy and happy and strong,” she said.
The couple is especially focused on serving the year-round community, Fred Bierwirth said. Both have been involved in recent discussions about the challenges living here pose for many people, especially families.
“There's an extent to which we want to try to use this as a little bit of a platform to try to continue to educate people about some of that stuff, not in a heavy handed or overly obnoxious way, but just helping people understand there's a lot wonderful things about this community, but there are some negative externalities,” he said.
All of the 9,945-square-foot facility's employees are local residents, and local vendors are being used when possible.
“We are hyper focused on building a year-round business,” Bierwirth said. “It's embedded in our pricing, it's embedded into pretty much everything.” Even the coffee available in the kitchen of the co-working space and for sale in the retail store is local, a special organic blend created by Chatham's B-Side Coffee.
“It's very exciting to see such an innovative concept come to fruition,” said Tracy Shields, who owns the coffee company as well as Hangar B restaurant at Chatham Airport. “Their dedication to this project is inspiring to watch.”
Bierwirth said the guide for his vision was The Chatham Squire, which he said provides an egalitarian environment where nobody cares what your checkbook balance is. “We want to try to replicate that here, but have it be people bonding over sweating and improving themselves, or trying to run a successful business in the co-working space,” he said.
Built at the former location of Campari's Restaurant, Chatham Works blends a state-of-the-art fitness center with co-working space for entrepreneurs, visitors, retirees or those who work at home and need temporary work or conference space.
The fitness center includes the latest elliptical and rowing machines, treadmills (all with their own TV monitors) and other workout equipment. In the center of the building is a team training room with space for up to 18 people, with a smaller adjacent room that can accommodate up to five people. In the lower level is a training room with more classroom space as well as a spinning room with 20 machines.
The co-working space on the second floor has open seating work space, private offices and a video conferencing equipped meeting room, with fast internet service through a dedicated fiber optic connection from OpenCape. The co-working space rents at both a daily and monthly rates.
Throughout the facility, multiple windows let in natural light that creates a bright, open atmosphere
Photographs depicting Chatham scenes that not only capture the beauty of the town but also its people decorate the facility's walls.
“I wanted to show the workings of our town,” said photographer Christine Sanders, who is also a trainer and Barre instructor at the fitness center.
“I wish them luck,” said Selectman Peter Cocolis, one of four board members who attended the ribbon cutting. “It's good to have another year-round business in town.”
The Bierwirths said they received help from many in the community, including the selectmen and other town officials, their family and friends. For Lindsay Bierwirth, who survived two cancers during the time the project was underway, Monday's ceremony had special meaning.
“I've grown a tremendous amount, and I have learned a tremendous amount,” she said. “And I've developed an enormous sense of gratitude” to the town. She singled out her children and her husband, whose financial and business skills made Chatham Works possible.
“He is my rock and allows me to be a balloon,” she said.
Chatham Works will open its doors to the public by week's end.