Garrett Green remembers visiting the warehouse at 311 Frederick St. as a child, accompanying his father to get feed for his family’s horses. He remembers how the old wood floors, exposed beams and big windows made the grain store open and inviting.
Those were just the elements Green was looking for when he decided to expand his business, Green Fitness & Wellness.
After an extensive renovation, the business opened in early December with refinished wood floors and a rope climb that reaches the rafters. A wall of windows offers views of trains rolling past and lets light pour in as members work out.
According to a recent presentation to the Architectural Review Board, the building—considered by the city to be historically significant—was constructed in 1919 as a steel-framed, wood-clad warehouse for the Young-Sweetser Grain Company.
In 1920, the concrete grain elevator tower—known locally as the Purina Tower—was added. Around the same time, an expansion doubled the size of the warehouse.
A 1922 article about the grain elevator in The Daily Star stated, “nothing so volubly typifies progress as to view the big concrete grain elevator of the Young-Sweetser Co. here and compare it with conditions in olden times for handling and keeping the grain crops.”
What the building did to revolutionize the grain business here, Green wants to do for the fitness industry.
“A lot of people wanted to turn it into offices,” Green said. “They wanted to put in drop ceilings, but this is too nice to close in.”
Green Fitness, formerly at 1122 Caroline St., has been open for seven years. Green said he originally wanted to provide a more personal training service, but realized the area was missing a full-service wellness center.
“I work with quadriplegics and stroke victims,” he said. “There’s a disconnect between intensive physical therapy and getting back to everyday life. We provide that bridge, but I noticed clients would leave and have to drive elsewhere to other care. I thought, we can have it all in one place.”
Along with the large exercise room used for general fitness and classes like Pitaiyo, which is offered there, there are rooms for an in-house chiropractor and a massage therapist.
Local plastic surgeon Howard Heppe is a two-year client of Green’s. He started there as a last effort to avoid surgery for a rotator cuff injury.
Heppe said unlike traditional physical therapy, Green’s approach doesn’t have a time limit, and allows for full recovery.
Heppe said a space that is “aesthetically pleasing while getting a great workout” makes him more confident when referring patients there.
“That’s why I’ve been going for two years,” he said. “I’m really so glad I found him. What he does is phenomenal.”
Also built into the space is a private studio named in memory of Jeffrey Fitzpatrick, the founder of Blue & Gray Brewing Co. and one of Green’s first customers.
The main room features weights, rope climbing, cardio equipment and a Kinesis wall. With the wall, seven people can work out at the same time, pulling cords attached to different weights in different directions.
Green calls the wall a “game changer” for adaptive fitness.
Chiropractor Erica Heppe, from Spotsylvania County, opened a practice in Green’s facility because of the studio’s focus on integrative care.
“I see a lot of injuries that stem from repetitive lifestyle habits,” she said. “With my practice and physical therapy under one roof, it helps people make real lifestyle changes.”
She embarked on her chiropractic career after a chiropractor cured her headaches.
Likewise, Green got into the field after seeing how exercise can help people in recovery when he had back surgery in college. He also saw the effects of physical fitness in people with health issues.
Green has grown the business out of its original space and sees opportunity to grow in the new location. The building has the space if Green needs it.
Green, who lost his father, local Realtor Graham Green III, in a plane crash a decade ago, said owning a small business is a way to honor his memory.
Green didn’t love the real estate business the way his father did, and set out to turn what he was passionate about into a living.
“My father owned a business and he saw a lot of potential in Fredericksburg that I didn’t necessarily see when I was growing up here,” he said. “But after he passed, and I moved back I realized how he laid the groundwork for my success. His friends were my first clients. And being a business owner is in our family; we have been a small business family for generations.”