PORTAGE PARK — With the fanfare surrounding Binny's Beverage Depot's imminent move into the former Bank of America building at 4901 W. Irving Park Road, it's easy to forget that a more health-minded option is headed for the same spot.
Retro Fitness is pushing to open its first Chicago location sometime in March, with three floors encompassing 20,000 square feet for cardio, weight training and group classes — as well as a "cardio theater" where visitors can watch movies on a big screen while working out.
As things stand, the Six Corners Shopping District is hardly in a gym desert. With Snap Fitness, 4504 W. Irving Park Road, and XSport Fitness, 5515 W. Irving Park Road, just a few blocks in each direction, residents don't have to look far for ways to keep active.
But Retro Fitness manager Aida Sinka is betting that a suite of fresh-from-the-factory machines and a $19.99 monthly membership package will help the newcomer stand out.
"It's a really good deal when you're talking about top-of-the-line equipment with TVs on each cardio machine and access to a full juice bar," Sinka said. "We're excited about bringing a low-cost, high-quality gym into the neighborhood."
From a small preview center at 4007 N. Milwaukee Ave., Sinka is offering visitors a chance to drive the cost even lower. The first 250 people who sign up to join the gym before it opens will get to waive a $99 enrollment fee, on top of a full month of free membership.
As of Friday, about 120 people had taken advantage of the promotion, Sinka said.
Since December, she and her staff have used the preview center to showcase some of the machines and amenities that will await those who sign up. They include squishy abdominal benches and sleek stationary bikes, all with built-in screens offering rolling forest landscapes and a "virtual coach" to give pointers.
But the gym's most distinctive feature may be its "cardio theater," which Sinka describes as "like an actual movie theater, but with cardio machines instead of seats."
The gym will show a full schedule of movies on the big screen, inviting viewers to jog or pedal as they watch.
"It's really cool," Sinka said. "It's like always being able to go to the movies, included in the cost of your membership. So it makes the deal even better."
The preview center is open from 9 a.m.-8 p.m., weekdays 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturdays and 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Sundays. Gym staffers can be reached at 773-492-2094.