There are three things to know about the U Street building that houses the Results Gym: It’s undergoing a massive renovation that will see a three-story expansion and a new rooftop pool. Results is moving out. And the gym’s competitor, Vida Fitness, is moving in.
The construction plans were unveiled at a Dupont Circle Advisory Neighborhood Commission meeting last Wednesday. What the plans did not reveal is the backstory between two former business partners turned competitors—Results owner Doug Jefferies and Vida Fitness owner David von Storch—a saga with elements befitting the whole battle-of-the gyms plot of Dodgeball.
Von Storch owns Results Gym’s building, as well as several businesses, among them Capitol City Brewing Company and Bang Salon. Records from the Landlord and Tenant branch of D.C. Superior Court show the two have sparred over rental payments since the late 1990s, with von Storch’s company initiating the original legal action.
“He has seen my business grow and blossom and decided, ‘Hey, I don’t want to own bars anymore. I want to own gyms,’” says Jefferies, who runs gyms at three other locations, including Capitol Hill, Farragut North, and Mt. Vernon Triangle.
Matt Hagan, a spokesman for von Storch, said von Storch was unavailable to comment and pointed to a 2008 article in the Washington Business Journal in which the gym owner was quoted as saying: “The way I look at it is, if you were to buy a home and rent it out for a while, at the end of the lease sometimes you decide you want to develop it or live in it.”
The impending construction came as news to Jefferies, who says he heard about it not from his landlord but a friend who had seen some related paperwork at the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA). (Full disclosure: I am a member of Results Gym, Dupont.)
Jefferies’ lease is up in spring 2011, he says. He has no clue if construction might begin before that. “I would hope not, but I don’t know,” he says.
Jefferies and von Storch go way back, to the early days of the Results gym chain. In 1994, Jefferies, a personal trainer, opened his first gym on Q Street NW—a tiny place. When he decided to expand, he found the U Street space, but needed additional capital to lease the property. That’s when von Storch stepped in as a business partner; the Dupont Results opened in 1996. In November 2005, von Storch purchased the entire property for $5.8 million. The following year, von Storch launched Vida Fitness, which now has three locations: Verizon Center, Logan Circle, and Mount Vernon Square.
Both gyms tend to appeal to the young urban professional set; the differences seem slight. Results gyms feature a training pool with controlled current, dry saunas, a steam sauna, a jacuzzi, and four international squash courts (“a hotbed of squash excitement”), while Vida locations offer much the same, along with warm stone massages and “Detox Body Cocktails.”
Jefferies and von Storch don’t talk much anymore, and von Storch has been generally tight-lipped about the Vida v. Results story.
At the Dupont ANC meeting, von Storch didn’t mention Vida Fitness at all during his initial presentation. It came up only after a question from the audience, according to commissioner Will Stephens. But in an article in last week’s Dupont Current, Hagan said any comment about the plans would be “premature.” That was the same line delivered to Washington City Paper a week later, despite an announcement on Vida’s Web site that “David owns the building at 1612 U Street, NW, which is the home of Bang Salon, Café 1612 and will be converted to a flagship VIDA Fitness in 2011.”
Other revelations in von Storch’s online bio: “Five additional VIDA Fitness locations are now under active development in the Washington, DC area.”
But Jefferies, too, is on the prowl for new space to replace his Dupont location and find other good opportunities for expansion. He says he’d love to purchase a property–but he’s not about to give any specifics on what he’s considering: “Because it’s such a competitively-natured business, I have to keep that tight to my chest. David von Storch doesn’t like me very much.”
This story appears in this week’s print edition of the Washington City Paper.