San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

New Fitness, Health Center Opens in Granada

Personal fitness in Granada has, until recently, been a Spartan experience involving dirt floors and grunting crowds of sweaty men swinging weights in poorly lit, claustrophobia-inducing rooms.

But the “prison weight room” experience that has characterized the Granada gym scene for years has finally started to mature into something more sophisticated and civilized.

Several cleaner and more client-friendly  gyms have opened here in past months, and the recent opening of a high-end health and fitness center has suddenly made working out here a dignified and enjoyable prospect.

“We want to create a space and energy that promotes a balanced lifestyle,” said California native Warren Ogden, founder of the Pure health and fitness center.

Pure, which opened in July, offers yoga classes, dance instruction, aerobics, massage therapy, personal training and balanced meals in an elegant colonial-style venue complete with open-air garden. The encouraging spirit of Ogden, a Duke graduate who earlier founded a youth refugee center in San Diego, punctuates the experience at Pure.

“I enjoy seeing a positive change in the people I spend my day with,” said Ogden, 32, as he slurps vegetable juice in Pure’s teahouse café on Calle Corrales, one block past the San Francisco Convent, toward the lake.

“The goal is to ultimately help people find their own path towards deeper health.” Ogden will draw from a base of clients he has cultivated as a personal fitness trainer in Granada during the past nine months, as he was starting up his gym. But he’s also reaching out to new clients – Nicaraguans, tourists and expats alike, who are interested in improving their personal fitness.

In doing so, Ogden has brought together a group of qualified personnel – and provisions.

Amos Centeno, a native Granadino who studied at the International Alternative Medicine Institute in Costa Rica, offers clients everything from acupuncture to chiatsu, raiki, tomo therapy and electromagnetic therapy.

The nearby Garden Café, a favorite healthy lunch spot in downtown Granada, provides Pure clients with daily balanced meals, and Masaya gym owner Miguel Castillo commutes into town to instruct weight trainers in the gym’s weight room, which is equipped with brand-new gear.

To see to it that his investment makes an impact in all levels of the community, Ogden plans to offer Nicaraguan mothers scholarships to learn about healthy living habits.

Priced below gym memberships at some of the larger Managua gyms – monthly memberships at Pure are starting at $28 – Ogden’s gym has set the bar for high-end fitness in Granada.

But it’s not the only new competitor in town. Located at the end of Calle La Libertad, “Adonis El Gym” was packed with-mostly young Nicaraguan males pumping iron on a recent afternoon.

The gym, which opened in April and is geared towards beginners, offers a customerfriendly environment and a more comfortable price than Pure or even the nearby Sport gym, which for years has been the best gym Granada has had to offer (one-hour sessions at Adonis El Gym start at 10 cordobas).

Though smaller and a bit farther from downtown Granada than the Sport gym, El Adonis offers better customer service, thanks in no small part to the gym’s friendly manager, German national Jurgen Harring, as well as newer equipment.

Harring recently launched the Web site, which rates Granada gyms based on quality, price, maintenance and customer service based on his visits to each gym. Harring eventually plans to rate all the gyms in Nicaragua on his site.

As it stands, Pure takes the cake in all categories for Granada gyms, according to the Web site.

For Ogden, whose view of health was shaped by Yoga courses at DukeUniversity, health is more than just body maintenance, it has to do with a whole lifestyle.

“Often I think we look at our bodies like we look at cars. An axle breaks, you take it in and fix it. Our bodies aren’t like that,” he said.

For more info, call Pure at 966-3677.


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