While teammates have been working out in their garages and backyards during the pandemic, former Tampa Bay Ray Matt Joyce has been opening his own gym.
Joyce, wife Brittany and business partner Blair Johnson purchased five F45 Training franchises. Saturday is the grand opening of the first center, located in New Tampa at 8035 Highwoods Preserve Parkway.
“I’m actually in great shape,” said Joyce, now a Miami Marlins outfielder. “This concept offers similar workouts that I do on my own for baseball, but F45 classes are more organized, fun and produce the same, if not better, results.”
Joyce, who played for the Rays from 2009 to 2014, and his wife attended a class at an F45 center a couple of years ago and decided it was a good fit for their future.
“As an athlete, you are forced to train and take care of your body and we all have to do something to stay in shape and take care of ourselves,” he said.
“I love the game and I still want to be out there, and as a player you want to play as long as you can,” he said. But at 35, he was looking at the next step in his career.
Once the 2020 spring training season was canceled, Joyce returned to his Tampa home and began working full time to ready the business. Originally, the franchise was set to open at the end of March, around the time of opening day for baseball. The pandemic and statewide shutdowns postponed both.
But that gave Joyce time to put the finishing touches on the gym, training by himself all the while.
The concept of F45 Training is a combination of circuit training and high intensity interval training. The franchises offer about 50 different types of workouts for different muscle groups. All of the workouts take 45 minutes and Joyce said the exercises are designed for all levels of fitness.
“It’s really cool because you can have a wide range of people do the workout at the same time,” he said. In the past couple of months, Joyce has been doing online workouts on Facebook and Instagram to showcase the business.
Members must be at least 16, but Joyce said he is working to develop a program for athletes age 12 to 15. For the grand opening, he’s offering a membership at $129 a month, and everyone gets a free week to try out the programs. Under the state guidelines, current classes are limited to 50 percent occupancy, allowing 18 members per class.
Joyce, who grew up in Hillsborough County and attended Armwood High School, plans to open the second franchise in the Sparkman Wharf area in September. He also has locations planned for West Brandon, Tampa Heights and South Tampa. Each franchise costs about $350,000, including construction and equipment costs.
The F45 Training program has attracted celebrities like Mark Wahlberg and Mario Lopez. Joyce has invited some of his professional athlete friends to visit the center, especially since their workout options have been limited.
He even sent a note to Tampa’s newest celebrity athlete, Tom Brady, offering a large field near his home for Brady’s team workouts.
“He hasn’t responded,” Joyce said.