AC4 Fitness emphasizes go-at-your-own pace workouts at Santa Barbara, Goleta locations
AC4 Fitness — a local gym founded on the philosophy of “exercising to live, rather than living to exercise” — is celebrating 10 years of providing Santa Barbara area residents with a low-stress, go-at-your-own-pace workout environment to improve their health.
The gym, which was opened by Tony Calhoun and his family in 2012 and today boasts more than 2,000 members between two locations in Goleta and Santa Barbara, was largely influenced by his son, Anthony Calhoun IV, who died in a car accident in 2009 and for whom the fitness club is named.
“Traditional ‘big box’ clubs can be very intimidating for many people that really need exercise in their lives, so we wanted to create a different culture that provided a unique fitness alternative for our friends and neighbors,” AC4 owner Tony Calhoun told the News-Press. “We see (AC4) very much as being a community-oriented club — a club for the people and by the people.”
Prior to opening AC4, Mr. Calhoun was a franchisee of Gold’s Gym on the Central Coast for 30 years. As time went on in that role, however, he found that committing to the community-centric model he worked to build in his gyms was becoming too difficult to maintain in a franchise environment.
Four years after selling his franchises, Mr. Calhoun and his son Anthony began working on a business plan for a fitness club that would return them to their roots of a family-owned business concerned for the well-being of their fellow man, rather than keeping up with the ever-evolving trends that define many people’s understanding of what gyms are.
“One of the reasons that I decided to get back into the industry was my son, Anthony, who had literally grown up working for and being a part of our Gold’s Gym experience here locally,” Mr. Calhoun recounted. “When he was just a couple of years old, maybe 3 years old, I still remember him sitting on the front counter at our first Gold’s Gym in Old Town Goleta checking member cards.”
“Maybe a year later after having coped with the loss of Anthony, I was ready to turn back and resurrect our project, and in a way use AC4 Fitness as a means of memorializing Anthony and his contribution to his family and to this business,” Mr. Calhoun continued.
Another driver of both Mr. Calhoun’s now decade-old decision to open AC4, and his overall business philosophy, comes from his Christian faith, particularly the story of Jesus calling on the soon-to-be apostle, Peter, to continue casting his fishing nets despite going through the night without success. Upon following His instructions, Peter and his companions’ ships nearly capsized from the weight of the bounty they hauled in from the sea.
“When I was really searching for an answer as to whether or not we should essentially ‘let down our nets’ (by opening AC4), that particular story really struck me hard as an act of faith to go ahead and submit and be obedient and let down the nets and let Him fill them to overflowing,” Mr. Callhoun explained. “It was a call to faith and to act.”