The large empty space on the northeast corner of Highway 49 and Jackson Gate Road in Martell won’t be empty for much longer. Soon, construction equipment will be preparing the land and building the new location for the New York Fitness health club, with a projected opening date of September 1, 2022. I talked with New York Fitness owner Shawn Karai about his business and the impending move to the new location.

New York Fitness started in 2004 as the only full-service health club in Amador County, and Karai and his wife purchased the business in 2017. Both are co-owners with specific responsibilities. “I act as the general manager,” Karai said, “and my wife and I do the bookkeeping, banking, payroll, marketing, and advertising, as well as personally train clients.”

Growing Pains

Karai noted that full service includes an outdoor heated pool, steam rooms, saunas, a spa, facilities for basketball and racquetball, Olympic weightlifting equipment, and over 50 classes including self-defense, spin, and yoga. All these services are offered at the current New York Fitness location at 615 New York Ranch Road, Suite 1, which takes up over a quarter of the space at New York Ranch Center.

Shawn Karai and his family New York Fitness has managed to thrive, but soon after Karai and his wife bought the business, they realized the location wasn’t ideal. “The current facility is in a poor location, is poorly designed, and is in poor condition,” Karai said. So, he started looking for a new location and thought he found one in Sutter Creek. That discovery was fool’s gold.

“We went through great difficulty trying to build in Sutter Creek and we enlisted Ron Regan of LGM Construction to help with construction there,” Karai explained. “When it didn’t work out, Ron and his partners who owned the lot in Martell suggested building there.”

More for Members

Though the permitting process is still in progress and Karai continues to make modifications, the preliminary floorplan gives an idea of the facilities he has in store for the new building. “We will have all the same features, but our basketball court will be full court and for basketball only,” Karai said. He added that the basketball court at the current facility is only a half-court and is sometimes used for fitness classes because of a lack of available space.

Aside from more room, Karai also expressed excitement about the new opportunities the new facility will bring. “We will be selling fitness meal prep, and there are possibilities of offering cryotherapy and red dot therapy in the future,” he said.

New York Fitness new floor planWhat’s more, the new facility will also bring expanded childcare services. “We will be providing childcare to our members in a state-of-the-art, super-comprehensive ‘fit kids’ area,” he said, “and we’ll offer free childcare for the first kid per family.”

Building for the Community

New York Fitness isn’t the only new addition on Jackson Gate Road. In May, Philip Hollingsworth’s Family RV Service moved from Lodi to 12567 Jackson Gate Road, which is directly to the east of the new New York Fitness campus.

With all the new development on the north side of Jackson Gate Road, it’s unclear if there will be a need to expand both Jackson Gate Road and the east side of Highway 49 to accommodate more traffic. Karai said that if road or other infrastructure improvements are needed, “we will do whatever the county asks us to do.”

All the current and planned services, Karai added, are part of a culture of positivity he embedded from the day he started operating New York Fitness. “As the owner of the only health club in the area, I feel it’s my responsibility to lead the community by being a role model and living the most positive and grateful lifestyle that I can,” he said. “We transformed an old, stale business into a super-positive business that supports the community and members as part of our business model.”

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