One of things that has been on my to-do list with this blog (which I’m sure you can imagine is pretty long at this point) is to write about gay and lesbian business owners in Detroit. In the first piece I wrote for Model D back in 2007 I talked about some of the gay-owned businesses in the city, and what great ones they are. But where do we stand four years later? Is there anyone new? It turns out that yes, there are, and I am going to start talking about them, beginning with Kimo Frederickson of True Body Fitness.
I first met Kimo last year at Doggy Style. As you may be aware, fitness is not my milieu, so when I found out he was a personal trainer I naturally tried to get away as quickly as possible to spare myself any judgment. Well, several friends started working out at TBF and it turns out it is like the least judgmental place ever. Which I guess I would have known if I’d looked at their website where it says in big letters “Fitness without the attitude” but you know, gym websites are not high on my browsing list.
I probably never would have gotten to know Kimo unless Liz Blondy (of Canine To Five, Detroit’s best dog daycare, boarding and grooming facility) hadn’t said to me, “Dude, you won Hatch Detroit and are going to have your picture taken a million times next year. You will need to look good.” So I finally got my act together and met with Kimo on a professional level.
Now this isn’t meant to be a SGD fitness report, but it’s kind of hard to separate out my experience from writing about True Body Fitness. So let me just say it’s going fine, don't expect anything crazy and we will never speak about me working out again.
Kimo actually started True Body Fitness in 2008 in a residential space in Howell. Can you imagine how bleak that was? (Nothing personal, Kimo) So at the end of 2010 he made the big leap and not only moved to Detroit, but rented a ground-floor studio space in Corktown on Michigan Avenue, set it all up and started putting together all the components of a full-fledged fitness studio.
The studio is awesome. I’d just assumed it was going to be some small-ish crappy drywalled space but it’s all brick walls and mirrors and high ceilings and lots of light. It’s in that commercial strip on the north side of Michigan Avenue just before Trumbull, the one with all the brick buildings and green awnings. Watch for it the next time you drive out of downtown.
Kimo’s main thing is the one-on-one fitness instruction, which I can attest really kicks your ass. He’s so nice about it though, not so much in the way he’s a total prick making you finish a set that is really fucking hard but in the way he makes you feel like you genuinely did a good job when you finish. Personal training isn’t totally cheap, though, and I get it isn’t for everyone. What is cool about TBF is that there is an entire separate room where you can get your Zumba or yoga on. I could give the whole spiel but you should take a look at the class schedule here to see the offerings.
I asked Kimo why he opened up in Detroit, and his answer wasn’t unexpected. He wanted to feel connected to a diverse community and do his small part to make Detroit a better place. He has had a really great response, especially to the classes. One very nice idea he had is the “Fit to Give” classes, where the proceeds from those particular classes each month benefit a designated charity.
Overall, he told me it’s the people that are the best thing about being open in Detroit, and how overall it’s been great being a new-ish member of the community. I know that’s a common refrain, but it does make me happy to hear that people are coming to town, genuinely working hard to build something and having a good experience.
I have to throw this in though: the other day we were talking about this whole “gentrification” discussion that’s going on (which is not really about gentrification but that’s another blog post) and he told me about an email he got when he opened. Some woman from Corktown wrote to let him know that she and her friends viewed him as some kind of interloper from the suburbs and she and her friends were carpooling to Dearborn for their yoga class. Just to let him know. It turns out it’s some white chick originally from northern Michigan somewhere. If that doesn’t sum up how ridiculous that whole “outsiders moving in” bullshit is getting, I don’t know what does.
Anyway, back to Kimo. I haven’t even talked about the gay aspect of things, and I guess other than the fact that he has a lot of gay clients, there really isn’t one. He’s just an out gay man running his business in the city, and since he has a boyfriend he isn’t even bitter about the gay social scene. Kind of refreshing!
I know some of you are making some New Year’s resolutions to be more fit, so why don’t you check out some classes at True Body Fitness and support a sister while you’re at it! Oh and check out TBF on Facebook for lots of studio pics and more info!
[Oh, and Kimo wanted me to ask: TBF is looking for a gay-friendly bootcamp instructor, dance instructor and maybe a trainer. If you know anyone cool and city-loving, have them email Kimo here!]