We gathered at Edge just like we always did on Saturday morning. People arrived, by car, bike, on foot. We stood in groups, caught up on the news, waited for the clock to move to 8:00. The crowd was bigger than usual this Saturday and instead of starting the warm up automatically we kept chatting as our numbers grew and grew. By the time Bill got our attention, there were more than 50 of us.
It was the last workout at Edge Performance Fitness.
Matt joined first, but we’ve both been members of Edge Performance Fitness since early in its history. He started in June of 2009, after discovering Edge during a Sunday Parkways ride. He was hooked, liked the camaraderie of the classes and the friendly people. When the gym was just getting started, sometimes Matt would be the only one in the class, which he joked was his own personal training session. I came along in November of that year, after Matt kept badgering me to join. And we did our final practices for the TSDP at Edge, which you can see in this video. (Original post here). I liked how bare-bones the gym was. No TVs, no rows of machines. People came to their class, did their workout and went home sweaty and sore.
Over the years, I moved through different phases of classes. My most regular class had a variety of names over the years. We eventually just started calling it the Saturday Class. Every Saturday at 8am, Matt and I would get ourselves out the door and to the gym. At first we rode bikes, because we were car-free. When he got a car, we kept riding bikes, then eventually started driving. There was a period where the New York Times’s Ethicist column was published in the paper and I would read the question aloud so we could discuss it.
When we got to Edge, we checked in with our friends. There were many regulars who came to the Saturday class, and many more people from the weekday classes who would appear on the occasional Saturday morning. I will miss seeing them.
One thing the Saturday Class taught me was non-attachment. Mostly because the instructors eventually got tired of working on Saturday mornings and would move on. Here’s a list of our trainers and what I remember about them:
Jordan, who usually had us do a Spiderman circle and a Superman fly thing.
Mark, who was from the short-lived martial arts phase of Edge.
Chris, who treated women differently than men and thankfully didn’t last long.
Kevin, who would say, stuff like, “start easy, by maybe grabbing a 35 pound weight…”
Todd, who was impressed that we never complained because he was used to working with athletes from University of Portland.
Becky, whose workouts were endless variation on the lunge.
DeeAnn, who really taught Pilates, but would fill in occasionally. I always enjoyed her classes because they involved a lot of stretching.
Elizabeth, who liked to work us on the TRX.
Scott who loved to create complex obstacle courses which he would patiently walk us through and then when we would start running, would just as patiently redirect the three people who would set off in the wrong direction.
Kayla who had clear workouts that were sneakily hard.
Eric who made everything look incredibly easy, even though we could tell it was tough.
Blake who loved tabadas, and came from the same phase in music history as me.
I took classes in the Loft, too. DeeAnn taught me to love Pilates, even though I still find it weird. Rae introduced me to Restorative Yoga (my favorite of all the classes) and kept me busy on New Year’s Eve.
Kate Fisher was always the heart and soul of the gym, and also the owner. When people would say, “You go to that Boot Camp place? That looks intense!” I would laugh because Edge was the opposite of intense or intimidating. Kate made Edge a friendly place, where you could get a good workout. When I started, four women would carpool every morning from Oregon City because they liked Kate so much.
Bill was the other partner in the gym. He kept things going by putting that accounting background to use and kept the enthusiasm up with his hearty greetings.
One of the reactions when I told people the gym was closing was, “Well, what’s the next closest gym?” But it’s a moot point what the next closest gym is, because no gym will be like this gym. It was a place to workout, but it was a place of community and I will miss it greatly.
We ended every workout by clapping. For us, for the instructor, for having finished the damn thing, it was never really clear to me why we clapped, but I loved it. Our last workout was long, closer to ninety minutes than sixty. It was more crowded, with over fifty people rather than ten to twenty. But as always it was organized and as tough as you wanted to make it. There was good-nurtured teasing from those who liked that, and friendly encouragement from those who liked to encourage. We were sweaty and tired by the end.
When Kate called time for the last time, we clapped like usual. But our clapping didn’t stop like it usually did. This Saturday, we kept clapping. Clapping for us, for Kate and Bill, for the ephemeral nature of something so unique we probably won’t experience again. Clapping for yet another good workout. Clapping until Kate waved us off, saying “thank you” to all of us.
Here are some parting photos:
4 thoughts on “The End of Edge Performance Fitness”
Why did it close? It sounds like it was pretty popular. I’m impressed that you not only remembered all those trainers’ names, but a little detail about each of them. I chuckled at, “start easy by maybe grabbing a 35-pound weight.”
Ah yes, why did the end come? It closed because there was something about renewing the lease, but also because Kate is from Wisconsin and she now has a niece or nephew and she wanted to be closer to them. Which I totally get, but was a super bummer for us in Portland.
Matt and I put our heads together and came up with the list. I could work from Jordan forward or from Eric/Blake backward, but the middle got squishy. But we did call them out by descriptions and then one of us would remember a name.
I know this was a big loss. It is too bad, but seems like it might be the best for the owners (if that is the case more than a lease issue). What has the space become? Have they leased it yet or is it just empty?
At this moment, it’s still empty. I’ll post an update when it becomes something else.