Carpinteria Athletics is one of the most recognizable businesses in town. You know the place. The gym right next to the post office? Yeah, that gym. Owner Jonathan “Jonny” Jacobs has made it home for the last 12 years.
Jacobs was a trainer in town for half a decade before opening his own gym. “That’s where I really learned how to run a gym,” Jacobs said. The first thing you’ll notice when meeting Jacobs is his friendly nature, and he may have even tossed you a wave as you strolled along the shores. When he had the idea to open a fitness center and the opportunity arose, his stepdad encouraged him to lay down his roots. He leased the space right next door to the post office and turned it into a classic neighborhood gym. With a little help from his friends and fellow Carpinterians, Jacobs built out the space with local companies, and two months later his dream business opened its doors.
Carpinteria Athletics is a traditional gym that doubles as a socially-distanced social club, hosting an array of clients from regular “gym rats” to newly motivated locals. The inside space is spatially laid out, but for pandemic safety, the area behind the building has been transformed into a private weight room and cardio center en plein air – shade included.
Staying creative and on his toes helped Jacobs create a seamless transition for clients who had become weary from the pandemic. Jacobs’ business advice is simple: always do your best, even when your customers are not looking. The key to his success, Jacobs said, was that he prioritized the unglamorous parts of the job. “I’m not afraid to get dirty, so I’m the guy that’s always in the corners, cleaning everything. In fact, I don’t have a cleaning service. I am the cleaning service.” And rest assured, he knows his way around a disinfectant. Jacobs once owned a cleaning business for three years and has a lot of experience cleaning large establishments, including fitness facilities. “I knew what I was getting into, space wise, and what I can handle myself,” he said.
Before jumping into this venture, Jacobs reflected on different business models in the fitness world, and when comparing corporate franchised gyms to a simple neighborhood space, he found the latter more enticing. “I’ve worked for other gyms, and they go for a hard sell. It’s uncomfortable because they’re not going to let you leave without buying something else,” Jacobs said. “We are totally not that. We are straight forward. A unique aspect of our business is that we are truly old school in what we offer.”
As for trade secrets, Jacobs shared a few that apply to life as a whole, not just business. “First one is getting back to my faith in God and not turning away from that. The second is to buy a house sooner. And the third one is to never lease a car.”
Carpinteria Athletics is located at 5423 Carpinteria Ave. Learn more at carpinteria-athletics.com or follow their Instagram at @carpinteria.athletics.