John DiPatre | The Ponte Vedra Recorder

As I said to Shaun Ryan

John DiPatre is the owner of New Meridian Fitness, located in The Veranda office complex. He recently hosted a “grand reopening” to unveil a 1,300-square-foot expansion.

Tell me a little about New Meridian Fitness.

24/7 access, six trainers – very qualified, many years of experience. But the best thing about this gym is that it really is like a neighborhood environment where you can have a fun, challenging workout.

If you want to work hard, you can work hard. If you just want to feel good, you can do that. But the best part is that people meet people and form relationships. They develop customers for their companies from people they meet here. That’s what we’ve always wanted to create, just a neighborhood environment.

What devices and programs do you have?

The equipment is basic. Since the expansion, we’ve added cardio. We have selected devices. We have tons of free weights. We have exercise balls, bands – everything you need for rehab, muscle building and general fitness and weight loss.

We have group training, which is probably the most popular and affordable, and individual training. We’ve added a chiropractor who performs acupuncture, cupping, and dry needling. And we have a massage therapist.

When did you take over the facility?

It was August 21. I originally worked for Meridian Fitness in 2003. It was in a different place. The owner brought it here. And after about three years he sold it to someone else. And I worked for (the second owner) until 2019. I went to another gym. Then, here, the owner’s lease had expired and he decided to close it down.

I bought some gear from him and then reworked it. Changed the whole look, put a lot of money into it. Bought new equipment, painted, refurbished, basically.

I basically started with the clientele I had at the other gym. Then one of the trainers who worked with me came with her clients. And Angela (Richmond, DiPatre’s girlfriend) had some clients. We just started growing it from there.

I decided to do some memberships. In the summer, three more trainers came from another gym and brought their customers with them.

Tell me about your background.

I’ve always been interested in weightlifting because I played football. I’ve played professionally in Canada and Europe. I left football at the age of 29; I had a shoulder injury and just knew I couldn’t compete at that level.

I started working in reception at a Gold’s Gym and there was a guy who opened a personal training gym in 1999, the first of its kind in San Marco. He said, “Hey, you could be good at this.”

So I started with that. And then I moved to California and continued my personal training out there. I joined Meridian Fitness in 2003 when I retired.

What do you like most about what you do?

You meet all kinds of people. … What I really enjoy is just seeing how personalities change, for example in young athletes. They come in very shy and start lifting weights. They feel good and they come in and they talk and they laugh.

The same goes for the adults. You lose a little weight and feel good. You have more energy. And then they develop into a personality here because we have fun.

I enjoy coming to work every day, working with the clients, the trainers. There’s always energy and it’s upbeat and fun.

Where are you originally from?

Originally born in California. I moved all over the east coast with my family when I was a teenager. Ended up in Jacksonville because my dad started a business here. So I’ve probably been in the Jacksonville area since the mid 80’s.

I had a brief stint in California for a few years. I’ve been in Ponte Vedra since I retired in the early 2000s.

What do you like about living here?

i love the sunshine I love the warm weather. Some of the people I’ve met. The jaguars.

How do you spend your free time?

[Laughs] At the gym! We both [DiPatre and Richmond] love lifting weights so this really is our home away from home. We love our families and we spend time with them and really training and trying to improve the facility takes up a lot of our time.

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