WAXAHACHIE — In all of 10 months and change, Gold’s Gym in Waxahachie has already left its impact on the surrounding community. From sculpting bodies to lifting confidence and even to the sheer family-type support as members wrapped their arms around 20-month-old Parker Abbott and his mother, Leslie, Gold’s Gym has asserted itself as a staple in Waxahachie.

With the help of Celsius, a first of its kind fitness drink, along with brand ambassador and world-renowned hip-hop star, Flo Rida, the 50-plus member staff at Gold’s Gym — Waxahachie was surprised Thursday, Jan. 5 with a fitness class unlike any other offered by the over 350 gyms worldwide. For a little over two hours, the studio inside Gold’s was full on “Flo-Fit.”

Following an eight-week contest sponsored by Celsius in which staffers across the 150 corporate Gold’s Gyms in the United States were tasked with selling the fitness drink, the Waxahachie location came out on top.

“It was a national contest that ran during November and December and was really two contests running at the same time. One was for our members, who could enter to win a trip to a concert and stuff like that,” said Jeff Gloor, director of retail for Gold’s Gym. “Then, on our team member side, it was a contest for whichever gym could sell the most Celsius product. Out of all of our gyms nationwide, Waxahachie sold the most.

“[…] That is what has been great about us opening in Waxahachie, the staff, the team members, and even just the members seem to be really excited to have Gold’s Gym in the community. We just see such positive stuff come out of this club because of that sense of community. I was really happy to see them win it.”

John McKillop, national director of sales in fitness and specialty channels for Celsius, explained that it was a no brainer to bring Flo Rida back for year two of the contest.

“We did a contest with [Flo Rida] and Gold’s last year, and it was very successful. So we decided to have another promo on a larger scale this year and have him come back as our chief sponsor," McKillop said. "It worked out well last time, and they loved him, so we wanted to bring him back and do it again.”

For some, the connection between a hip-hop superstar, a fitness drink and a gym that began on Venice, California’s “Muscle Beach” in 1965 might not be quite as obvious as it should.

According to his MTV biography, Flo Rida, known off-stage as Tramar Dillard and born in Florida on Sept. 16, 1979, has over 80 million digital downloads and his songs "Whistle," "Right Round" and "Low" have all reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100.

But, it’s what Flo does outside of the rap game that directly connects him to fitness and a healthy lifestyle.

In addition to his own fitness class, “Flo-Fit,” Flo is also an advocate for inner-city children and works tirelessly to provide them outdoor activities regardless of income level. His youth football league, which began in Florida and has since expanded across the U.S. to California, has over 150,000 kids participating yearly. The league focuses on providing youth with gear, concussion awareness, fitness training and an opportunity to play.

Being in killer shape also isn’t his only connection to Gold’s Gym, according to Vanessa Walker, executive vice-president of sales and marketing for Celsius.

Walker noted that Gold’s Gym recently ran a nationwide contest that asked its members, “What’s your favorite song to workout to?” After the votes were tallied, Flo Rida’s “GDFR,” or “It’s Going Down For Real,” was selected as the No. 1 song on their playlists when pumping iron.

“It was a perfect tie-in,” Walker explained. “Gold’s Gym is a partner of Celsius. People love to drink Celsius. People love to workout to Flo’s music at Gold’s.”

“He doesn’t play around,” said Ashley Higgerson, general manager of Gold’s Gym — Waxahachie, after finishing a round of Flo-Fit. Since Gold’s Gym opened in Waxahachie last February, Higgerson has seen her staff grow to over 50 dedicated, and mostly local, employees.

“I had to keep it tight lipped for a week,” joked Higgerson about the surprise visit. “I’m good at that, keeping secrets, and I just had to lie to them. But no, I ended up having to let some of them know because they were included in the workout and that kind of stuff, but I have an amazing group here. I really do.

“It was like the perfect timing, because of course this is when we get a rush of New Year’s resolutions, so this is a busy time of the year for us,” she added. “This is something that is going to reenergize and revamp them and just get them more excited about working together as a team. I hope to have the opportunity to surprise them with more things like this in the future.”

So what exactly is this Celsius drink that the staff at Gold’s Gym peddled on its way to a one-on-one with Flo Rida? According to Walker, it is a fitness drink with a proprietary blend that increases body temperature by "about a half a degree," which, in turn, means the beverage accelerates metabolism and helps burn body fat.

“It is a fitness drink, and we are pioneering a new category of fitness drinks. There are two ways to burn body fat — increase your heart rate or increase your body temperature,” explained Walker of the drink that first launched in 2007 and is now sold worldwide under its new tagline for 2017 – “Live Fit.“ “We are accelerating your metabolism and burning body fat, and it has been clinically proven to do so because we have a unique proprietary blend. [The drink] provides you with hours of lasting energy. All of that is a perfect combination to fuel your workout.”

Outside of the contests, fitness drinks, and celebrity appearances, Gold’s Gym — Waxahachie is closing in on its first of many milestones: its first full-year in business. A feat that Higgerson said she is stoked to celebrate the gym's Feb. 15 anniversary.

“This is my baby. I was the only internal hire, so everyone who works for me, they are locals. They are new to the company, new to the organization, new to the culture here, but they have embraced it,” Higgerson said. “They are definitely on a pedestal within the company. This is the benchmark for Gold’s Gym, this gym here. I’m very proud of them.”

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Travis M. Smith, @Travis5mith

(469) 517-1470