Michele Martinez, right, is the new owner of Main Street Fitness in Le Roy. She bought the business from Fred Merica, left, who will continue to operate Le Roy Karate at 66 Main St. Martinez is joined by her fiance, Dan Saeva, whom she met at the gym.
Being a competitive weightlifter meant Michele Martinez was very serious about her workouts at Le Roy’s Main Street Fitness.
It also meant lots of advice for the gym’s proprietor.
“The truth is, Michele used to break my chops a lot,” Merica joked earlier this week. “ ‘You’ve gotta clean, you’ve gotta buy this, you’ve gotta buy that.’
“Finally I said, ‘Why don’t you just buy the place and do whatever you want with it!' ”
Which is pretty much what finally happened.
Martinez, who lives in Le Roy, took ownership this week. She’ll be leasing space from Merica, who owns 66 Main St. and will continue to own and operate Le Roy Karate.
Martinez is looking forward to meeting the public and sharing her plans for Main Street Fitness during an open house from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.
Main Street Fitness grew out of the karate studio Merica, 54, established in 2005. He gradually added weightlifting equipment to diversify the business. Now, the gym also features a cross-training room; a cardio room equipped with treadmills, stair machine and Arc Trainer (sort of a cross between a treadmill and an elliptical machine); and, in the basement, a circuit-training room.
In short, something for every age, skill level and interest.
“Everyone thinks it’s just weights, and it’s not,” Merica said. “I think that’s what separates this gym from most gyms in the area.”
It’s also a 24-hour operation, with keyless entry available to members. Merica said he preferred to focus on karate, and needed to find someone who could give the gym the attention it demands.
He said Martinez is the ideal buyer.
They met in 2012, when Martinez enrolled her daughter Skyler, now 11, in one of Merica’s karate classes. At the time, Martinez was in training — at different gym — for the Ms. Buffalo Bodybuilding Championships.
“We started talking, and he ended up letting me work out up front to supplement my training,” Martinez said.
She went on to win second place in the women’s heavyweight division in 2012. The following year, she claimed first place.
“That’s one of the reasons I thought Michele would be a perfect fit,” Merica said. “It adds another component to the gym, because she’s competed; she’s got that experience.”
But Martinez was reluctant to take on the responsibility. She already works full-time as a training manager for Sutherland Global Services in Rochester; is a part-time sign-language interpreter; and is also raising a second daughter, 9-year-old Kori.
Her outlook changed with her engagement earlier this year to Dan Saeva, whom she met at the gym. He’ll oversee day-to-day operations at Main Street Fitness, while Martinez focuses on the business side.
Martinez and Saeva, also of Le Roy, are planning an April 26 wedding in Puerto Rico.
Meanwhile, Martinez doesn’t expect major changes at Main Street Fitness. She will rearrange existing equipment in a way that makes better sense for bodybuilders, add more powerlifting equipment, and do some remodeling. Her contacts in the fitness field may mean expanded services, including nutrition supplements, fitness beverages and benching competitions.
She’ll also have special offers, including discounted rates on group memberships.
“I’m excited,” Martinez said. “I’m overwhelmed; I’m anxious. I think this next month will be the real test for us.”
For his part, Merica said he’s grateful to longtime members for their support as he bows out of the gym business. But he’s also thankful to have less on his plate.
“I’ll be getting more sleep,” Merica said.
“I’ll be getting less,” she said.
For more information about Main Street Fitness, visit www.fitness-karate.com.