For a little over a decade, Anytime Fitness (AF) has been Winters’ go-to oasis for exercise. Although a new owner is taking the reins, the changes on the horizon promise plenty for the town’s gym-goers to get excited about.
New owner Grant Witham had a humble entry into fitness. In fact, he didn’t make exercising a habit until friends took him to the recreation center at Sonoma State. Years later, the Santa Rosa native was working retail and needed a gym that accommodated his late hours. Anytime Fitness was his answer, and it didn’t take long for him to change from member to owner, and from owner to multiple-club owner.
“Like everybody at the club now, I was a member for about four or five years before deciding I wanted to get involved in the Anytime franchise. I was lucky with that first one to get help from my mom and dad,” Witham said explaining his Anytime Fitness genesis. “It took off from there. I scrubbed toilets, sold memberships and did everything for the first few years before opening a gym in Fairfield.”
Unfortunately, Witham’s father was diagnosed with cancer shortly after his purchase of his second gym in Fairfield. Prioritizing family over fortune, Witham opted to sell that gym and spent quality time with his father before his passing in 2017. After that, Witham was more motivated than ever to go all-out with his AF franchising and has since added ownership of four more gyms to his resume.
“I’d had my eye on Winters for a while when I owned the gym in Fairfield. I’d come down a couple times to chat with Gwen – she’s amazing – and see what her club was like and had always thought this was such a cool town and a great place for a gym,” Witham explained his decision to own the gym in Winters. “It a combination of a lot of things. Every interaction I had with Winters, whether it was the people I dealt with at the club, the different visits or just passing through, it was always positive.”
On a whim, Witham emailed the former owner Reed Tileston expressing interest in the AF in Winters. With serendipity on Witham’s side, Tileson was already feeling his time with AF had run its course. After some paperwork and payment, Witham has officially become the new owner of the AF in Winters. His ambitious plans, however, require some heavy lifting with which longtime AF manager Gwen Pisani is more than happy to spot him.
“Usually when you take over a club, the owner’s halfway out the door and nobody really gives you the lay of the land. With Gwen, we’re going to be able to keep everything she’s done the last 10 years, but improve upon that,” Witham said praising Pisani. “We’ll reinvest in the club, swap out the mirrors that are broken and reupholster the equipment. I text her all the time, and she’s just right on it helping me. It’s a lot of fun.”
For Pisani, it’s an emotional and difficult transition after 10 years of service. The memories she keeps, however, are as strong and chiseled as her heart.
“It’s been an absolute honor and pleasure to have been part of Anytime Fitness for 11 plus years. We love what we’ve done for the town and the members, but it’s just time. Time to pass the baton and bring someone in who’s a huge part of Anytime Fitness and is going to take it to the next level,” said Pisani. “It’s going to be a breath of fresh air and handing it off in the most positive way you can. And they know I’ll always be there if they need me. I told them as long as I’m above ground or in Winters, I’ll be the liaison between Anytime Fitness and the community.”
With new blood pumping in the little gym at 113 Main St., the fitness future of Winters is looking as bright as a baby-oiled body building posing on stage.