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Thursday, May 24, 2018
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Iconic muscle gym closes after 40 years

— Some of the latest fitness crazes include CrossFit, Zumba and bootcamps, but one retiring gym owner says all it really takes to get fit is a good pair of dumbbells.

Hector Morales, of Tampa, owner of Hector-Elisa’s Health Club, 3330 W. Cypress St., said he is closing his doors at the end of August. Although he is retiring, he isn’t retiring his dumbbells. At 83, he still plans to work out at home.

“I’ve got mixed emotions — I love the gym,” said Morales, who opened the West Cypress Street location 40 years ago. “I’m going to retire. I’ve been in business for many years and it’s hard to give it up.”

Morales said he received an offer on the property that he couldn’t pass up. The new owners are not planning to use the property as a gym, he said.

“It’s been a good group of people here,” Morales said. “I’ll continue to work out at home. I’m going to build a little gym in my backyard. I’m 83 years old so there are not too many hobbies I’ve got.”

Elisa Morales, Hector’s wife, said they were both born and raised in Tampa. She said it’s been difficult for her husband to consider retiring, even though she has been encouraging him to do so for years.

“The response has been wonderful,” she said. “People are very happy for him and wish him well. They know it’s time.”

She said the couple is giving people refunds for their memberships.

Although the fitness industry is constantly evolving, Elisa Morales said people have appreciated having a body-building gym.

Despite the red shag carpet, hot pink dressing room and doors that look like the kind at the entrance of old saloons, online reviewers often say they “can’t wait to go back.”

Hector Morales said there is always competition in the fitness business like any other business, but he is confident the old style of gym will thrive.

“The attitude of the gym is a little different,” he said. “It’s more like a club. Everyone knows everyone.

“I think a pair of dumbbells is the greatest piece of equipment there is. I really believe that you can’t beat state-of-the-art barbells.”

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