Tom Duer, left, and Brian Clista, co-owners of the Pittsburgh Fitness Project. Photo by Brian Cohen.

Now there’s a place to take a Pilates class, work out with weights, book an appointment with a dietitian and then go for a massage — all in one spot, without a monthly membership fee.

“Fitness should not be this thing that people dread,” says Pittsburgh Fitness Project co-owner Tom Duer. A personal trainer and coach, the energetic Duer and co-owner Brian Clista wanted to create a place that would serve to reduce the excuses people give for not working out.

“We like to say we are a barrier-free zone,” Duer jokes. “Everyone is busy, but we want to try to make it easy for people to get a workout and take care of themselves.” A big part of that was offering classes on an a la carte basis: There’s no annual membership fee, so you’re not feeling that pressure to get to the gym only to justify a monthly charge.

Pittsburgh Fitness Project opened quietly in October and have built their stable of practitioners to nine, including Duer and Clista, with plans to add more as they expand.

Clista, a pediatrician who runs marathons, says he and Duer would have long conversations about the huge problem of childhood obesity, and what could be done to encourage better health and wellness. They saw an opportunity to have not just a gym, but a fitness center which would offer an array of services for their clients. When the space on Butler Street became available, the two jumped at the chance.

“Our idea is to help make the community healthy,” Clista says, “by giving them multiple services in one place.”

Clista is one of several doctors on staff who place emphasis on functional medicine, an area focused on preventing disease and improving health, not just treating a patient’s symptoms.

Clista and Duer are adamant that there is no intimidation factor at Pittsburgh Fitness Project, and that people of all fitness levels are welcome. In additional to personal trainers, they offer boot camps, yoga, Pilates, and a barbell club, all on a drop-in basis in the 1,700-square foot space in their Butler Street building.

New clients are welcomed with a complementary fitness assessment, which does more than just assign a list of exercises or machines to use. The assessment focuses on goal-setting and what exercises a client has tried in the past, including what hasn’t worked.

Pittsburgh Fitness Project has plans to add on-site chiropractic services and they are partnering with Arsenal Strength, with whom they share a building, for Cross Fit instruction. They will continue to add classes and services as they settle into their new space.

Duer says they’re also focused on the social aspects of getting healthy, to make working out and getting in shape feel more like fun. Meeting people at the gym can be awkward, but Pittsburgh Fitness Project wants to foster that sense of community, Duer says.

“We want people not only to feel welcome here but to know there are other people focused on the same goal: Getting healthy.”

Kim Lyons

Kim Lyons is an award-winning writer and editor who spends way too much time on Twitter. Her experience includes crime, features and business reporting, and she has a huge crush on Pittsburgh. She was...