Bodybuilding gym bulks up regional presence with new Chester outpost

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RVA Iron Gym co-owner Brandon Garner outside the gym at 3910 Adams Road in Henrico County. (Jack Jacobs photos)

Adding more weight to its regimen, a Henrico-based bodybuilding gym has plans to pump out two new locations south of the James River in the near future, and also just became its own landlord in Henrico.

RVA Iron Gym is planning to open a new outpost at 361 E. Hundred Road near Chester. Gym co-owner Brandon Garner said work is underway on the 6,000-square-foot space and he hopes to open it in June.

And Garner is already thinking about what he said would be a third and final location, which would open in Midlothian in a couple years.

Garner, who opened RVA Iron Gym’s first location at 3910 Adams Road in Henrico County in May 2021, said he feels there’s a gap in fitness options in the Chester area comparable to his gym, which caters to bodybuilders and power lifters and has grown its membership by peeling off other gyms’ users.

“We tend to pull the most serious folks from these gyms. Those gyms will always maintain their $10, $20 membership clients who want to get to the gym but aren’t as serious as some of the competitive bodybuilders or just people who make fitness a priority, and that’s who we cater to,” Garner said.

The Henrico gym has grown to 750 members, Garner said.

RVA Iron Gym caters to bodybuilders. It’s located at 3910 Adams Road in Henrico County. (Jack Jacobs photo)

He expects to invest $250,000 to $300,000 in the build-out and equipment for the upcoming Chester-area location. The new gym is also planned to feature showers, which aren’t currently available at the original location.

RVA Iron Gym’s month-to-month rate is $65, and Garner said he is planning to increase the cost of most membership packages by $10 when the Chester gym opens.

The East Hundred Road space was formerly home to the long-running Chester Furniture store.

In addition to signing the lease on the Chester space this month, Garner recently bought the building on Adams Road in Henrico where his gym is located.

An LLC tied to Garner bought the building for $1.4 million in a deal that was recorded with the county in early February, according to online land records.

Garner’s gym occupies 7,500 square feet, while the other half of the building is home to Warren Services Inc., an ice machine leasing and service company.

Garner said that Warren Services intends to relocate, and that RVA Iron Gym plans to eventually expand to occupy the entire roughly 14,000-square-foot building.

As for his Midlothian plans, Garner hopes to have a gym up and running there by 2025. He’s on the hunt for a space of at least 20,000 square feet.

While that gym would be larger than what he’s done thus far, Garner said the demand he anticipates in Midlothian requires upping the ante.

“With Midlothian, I feel like I’d be shooting myself in the foot if I did 7,000 square feet,” Garner said.

A bodybuilder and former Marine, Garner co-owns RVA Iron Gym with business partner Bobby George. The duo also co-own supplement company Perform Nutra. They formerly operated another supplement company called Phantom Nutrition, which they have shut down.

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