Monday, May 27, 2024

A workout at Dirty Water Fitness in East Cambridge on Wednesday. (Photo: Susanne Beck)

“Dirty Water” doesn’t sound like the most alluring name for a new business, much less a good come-on for people looking to fulfill their New Year’s resolutions. But to Josh Fox and his fellow entrepreneurs, the appeal was clear.

“We considered many options for a name – some more scientific sounding, some around inclusivity and fitness and so on – before deciding we wanted something that represented not only Cambridge, but Greater Boston,” Fox said. The partners thought about their location near the heart of East Cambridge as well, close to the water’s edge at 247 Cambridge St. “We landed on Dirty Water Fitness,” Fox explained, “named for the one and only Charles River.”

According a 1966 Standells song that’s become a sports anthem, Bostonians just “love that dirty water.” Fox and company hope locals will feel the same about their new enterprise.

Like many small businesses, Dirty Water Fitness was born out of a collective sense of passion. Ask any of the four partners – including Joe Edelman, Sara Ennis and Tanner Larose – what led them to this line of work and the word “passion,” or some variation thereof, is uttered again and again. It’s also what inspired the team to pivot after their pandemic-related layoffs from the Cambridge Athletic Club to create fitness and training options beyond the traditional health club setting.

Dirty Water staff are, from left, Tanner Larose, Joe Edelman, Sara Ennis, Erin Mahoney and Josh Fox, with his dog Achilles in front. (Photo: Susanne Beck)

“We got pretty creative pretty quickly,” Fox said. “We were traveling to people’s houses. We were training people in parks. We set up some at our homes.” When colder temperatures set in, they began to look for indoor space. “We’ve all worked around the area, we have a lot of friends,” Fox said somewhat understatedly. For instance, his former landlord was longtime city councillor Tim Toomey. Thanks to their various connections and knowledge of the area, by November 2020 they had a signed lease; by the new year, a new business. Their client list grew and within months, they felt established, even though the sign out front still read, “Court Dry Cleaners.”

New Year’s resolvers take note: A recent move within East Cambridge brings more than a three-fold increase in square footage. The shop is still outfitted with needed high-end equipment, but the extra footage allows for new services that Fox described with rising excitement: “We’re starting up small-group personal-training sessions where we’ll be limiting each session to six people but offering 15 guaranteed times per week or 60 per month.” Owners are also working on a partnership with a physical therapy company to be able to offer prehab and rehab services on-site. “These will be in addition to our current 1-to-1 personal-training, partner-training, partner-assisted stretching and nutritional services” Fox said.

“It’s not just strength training,” he said. “We do a little bit of everything. It’s like cardio, conditioning, strength training. Everything we do is highly individualized.” With so many features on the services list, Fox said he and his partners look forward to perfecting what they do offer before jumping into anything else.

It amounts to a 2023 resolution from the people in charge of making clients follow theirs: to stay focused, professionally, and find a better work-life balance, personally.

“When we were doing the expansion, it was a lot of hours that we had to put in,” Fox said. “We’re trying to just make sure that we’re recalibrating and taking the time to spend with one another and our families and pursuing other things that are outside of work.”