By Mike Aldax and Rafael Lima
When he went to college at U.C. Berkeley, Ian Birnam suffered the fate of many young former athletes. No longer active in gymnastics and swimming, he gained a lot of weight.
“I wasn’t happy with how my body was looking, but more importantly, with how I was feeling,” Birnam said.
Once the weight piled on, finding the motivation to get off the couch became increasingly difficult. But then, several years ago, Birnam’s local community proverbially grabbed his hand and pulled him up from his slumber.
Birnam found a local fitness center where he bonded with local residents, lost 40 pounds, and discovered a new life path.
Birnam is co-owner along with Brianna Costello of IBX Fitness, a brand new bootcamp program operating out of the Booker T. Anderson Community Center at 960 South 47th St. in Richmond. With his new program, which held its first class on Oct. 7, Birnam said IBX Fitness aims to do for local community members what the local community did for him.
“What made me fall in love with [fitness] was the love of this community of people who were pushing me, encouraging me,” he said.
Their support helped him return to health, and to feeling good again. It’s exactly what he aims to replicate and maintain at IBX Fitness – a community of people bonding over fitness.
“Just having that sense of a warm, welcoming group, to feel like it doesn’t matter how strong you are, what your background is, where you’re at,” Birnam said. “We’re here as a group to improve you.”
IBX Fitness currently holds classes Mondays and Wednesdays from 7 to 8:30 p.m. and on Saturdays from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. The program offers a variety of workouts for any age, strength and skills range, Birnam said.
“The core of my program is functional fitness for everyone: whether you’re a seasoned athlete, or just trying to get off the couch, our workouts will scale to your needs and we’ll meet you where you’re at,” Birnam said.
Achieving common goals is one way Birnam and Costello are building community at IBX Fitness.
“We have strong values in community and diversity: we provide a space for those looking for friends, family, or people with a shared interest to bond over fitness,” Birnam said.
Correction: This story has been updated to correct the days and times of IBX Fitness class offerings.