Just 15 months after taking over ownership of a long-established fitness facility in Ponte Vedra Beach, John DiPatre is already planning to expand.
The New Meridian Fitness, located at the end of the courtyard inside The Veranda office complex, has deep roots in the community. The original Meridian was opened on County Road 210 in 2001 and later moved to its current location.
DiPatre had offered personal training at the facility in the past, and when he learned that it was available to purchase, he seized the opportunity. He became the new owner in August 2021, remodeled, painted and revamped it and added new equipment. To mark the occasion, he added “New” to the business name.
The New Meridian Fitness is chock full of state-of-the-art cardio equipment, selectorized machines, free weights, a Smith machine and more. In addition, it offers massage, acupuncture, needling and cupping.
Trainers with years of experience are available for one-on-one and group training, and DiPatre himself offers unlimited personal training. Joining him are Caroline Jenney, Matt Hendrick, Lindey Hendrick, Bruce Jackson and Angela Richmond.
The facility is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. And there’s a shower for those needing to tidy up after their workout.
But DiPatre is not standing still.
“We’re a growing business,” he said. “We’re getting ready to expand, and it’s going to be bigger and better.”
Early in December, New Meridian Fitness will expand to include an adjoining space where Astroturf will be installed, making it the perfect place for athletic training and yoga. This will also give the facility an opportunity to add some new machines.
A new career
DiPatre is a former quarterback who played professional football in Europe. At 29, he left that behind and was considering his options while working for his father’s company.
He didn’t so much find his new career as it found him. While working out at Gold’s Gym, he was approached by people asking if he offered personal training. He gave it a try and then moved on to working fulltime at a gym in San Marco.
“I really enjoyed it,” he said. “And I actually became really good at it.”
He moved to California for a while, but eventually returned to Northeast Florida, and that’s when he began working at Meridian.
It’s about people
What DiPatre enjoys most about operating The New Meridian Fitness is the opportunity he has to interact with people. His clientele ranges from teenagers to octogenarians, and many of them form friendships or business relationships.
Now that life is getting back to normal after the pandemic, more people are walking away from the Pelotons at home and returning to places like Meridian.
“We’ve created more of a neighborhood-friendly environment here,” DiPatre said. “When we have our groups and we’re busy, everybody knows everybody. So, it’s a great place, I think, to get to know people and have fun and get a good workout.”
While working out is good for the body, it also elevates a person’s mood.
A self-professed “people person,” DiPatre said he enjoys seeing others grow in confidence and undergo a positive change in their demeanor as they work toward their goals.
“This is a place where you just get a firm, challenging workout, and the sky’s the limit of what you can do,” he said. “It’s a very affordable opportunity for people if they do the unlimited training or just the membership.”
Those holiday pounds
The holidays have arrived and with them the temptation to overindulge. Inevitably, this will prompt a vow to get back in shape — a vow that all too often goes unfulfilled.
As an athlete, fitness trainer and gym owner, DiPatre has some advice for the well-meaning.
“Consistency is the key,” he said. “And it has to be a lifelong commitment.”
He suggested starting with something you are comfortable doing.
“A lot of times, people say, ‘I’m going to come to the gym every day. I’m going to stop smoking. I’m going to stop drinking. I’m going on a diet.’ And it lasts two weeks,” he said. “I think finding that level of consistency and making it a part of your life and trying to make it fun in a place like this is really important.”
The New Meridian Fitness is located at 820 State Road A1A North, suite W21, Ponte Vedra Beach. For further information, go to thenewmeridianfitness.com.