The Ground Floor: Former Wartburg wrestler opens gym in Cedar Rapids

Construction delays held back but did not stop owner

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Personal Trainer Jeff Rierson tells new clients the road will be long, and probably will include a few unforeseen challenges.

The journey to opening his own gym in downtown Cedar Rapids was similar in many respects.

Rierson, of North Liberty, opened Rierson Fitness on Oct. 1 in the basement of a renovated warehouse at 600 Third St. SE. The 93-year-old, brick building, known as the Warehouse on Third, originally housed a garment-making company, and from 1935 to 1995 was used as a distribution center for school supplies.

The steps to opening Rierson’s gym fell into place early on. He made a business plan, formed a limited liability company and secured financing.

But within a week of his wedding day, he realized the contractor he had lined up to do all the construction would not be able to do the work.

“That was a big bump in the road,” Rierson said, as sports-talk radio show flashed across the TV in his office. “At one point, I had almost closed the book on it and said, ‘It’s not going to happen.’ At the last second, a new agreement was reached for construction purposes.”

For about a month, Rierson held training sessions during the day and helped with construction at the new gym on evenings and on weekends. He said it was a challenging situation because he was already responsible for loan payments.

The new gym opened almost three months later than was planned.

Rierson operates the gym with two other trainers who he met at Wartburg College, where he was a wrestler. They offer customized workouts at their gym or at the clients’ home or workplace. They also contract with a few other smaller gyms in the area.

Several machines are available for strength, resistance and circuit training, or training to improve balance and flexibility. Individual or small group sessions are available. As a part of the package, the trainers also offer nutrition counseling.

“We provide health, strength and confidence,” Rierson said. “When somebody trains for a year, that’s what you develop.”

Rierson, who grew up in Estherville, said the gym is fully operational, but some construction is still ahead. He would like to add two more trainers to his group and likely will sell nutritional supplements and athletic clothing in the future.

“There are always bumps in the road, and there’s always something along the way that will throw people off their goal and off their progress,” Rierson said.

“We’re getting people to change in an actual real working world, with family and job and 1,000 different things going on.”


Owner: Jeff Rierson

Company: Rierson Fitness

Address: 600 Third St. SE, Cedar Rapids

Phone: (319) 290-6319


Hours: 5 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday through Friday, by appointment only; Open Saturday and Sunday by appointment. 

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