One of the wonderful things about living in my neighborhood is the wide variety of businesses and resources available within walking distance. Mostly, this encompasses restaurants, coffee shops, bars, hospitals (don’t laugh; we’ve already had to visit the emergency room for stitches), banks, and grocery stores. My personal current favorite? I can walk to the library!
So imagine my thrill when I discovered the newest addition to this amazing array is a gym: Dane’s Body Shop at 2701 Manor Road.
Adding Fitness to Restaurant Row
Motorists, pedestrians, and neighbors have been noting the progress of this new establishment ever since the Dane’s Body Shop sign went up at the old Master Valet Cleaners sometime in June. I covered the shop’s expansion from its flagship location in Hyde Park to the east side in a July article for The Austinot (“Dane’s Body Shop is New Fitness Stop on Manor Road”), and I recently checked in with owner Dane Krager to get the latest scoop.
Krager has a lot of Austin bona fides; he’s a native, an eastside resident, a local businessman, and former football player (Leander High School, Angelo State University, NFL, Arena Football League, and as Willis in “Friday Night Lights”). He’s also a committed family man and an old-fashioned gentleman (yes, I am a total sucker for beautiful manners and a courtly demeanor). I had the pleasure of meeting Krager through my work at AFM — I’ve repeatedly interviewed him as an AFM Fittest team and overall winner, plus I’ve reviewed workouts. And, being neighbors, I frequently run into him and his lovely family at a favorite breakfast spot.
As he explained in our earlier interview, Krager had been looking since 2012 for just the right space to open his second gym. He wanted to expand where his mix of strength, agility, and cardio-based workouts (“fusion” classes) could draw neighborhood traffic, as does his original shop at 4227 Guadalupe.
Two Shops, One Heart
There are a lot of parallels between the new Dane’s Body Shop and that flagship location. They’re in historic Austin neighborhoods; each is located in a remodeled building; both focus on small, community-centric fitness classes; and workouts take advantage of the surrounding area.
The refurbished building reflects the man and his business model. While the footprint of the former dry cleaners (which, I’ll be honest, had become something of an eyesore since the business relocated) remains the same, the interior space has been revitalized. As with the former gas station that houses the original Guadalupe shop and inspired the business’ clever name, Krager has reimagined the building’s use. His fingerprints are literally all over the redesign.
“I come from a working-class background,” Krager told me. “My dad taught me from the very beginning, if you want it done right, you need to do it yourself.” (I can also testify that the senior Mr. Krager is a vintage car guy. Be still my heart; I so love a beautiful car.) That’s why Krager personally hand-treated each of the exterior’s new cedar planks with a vinegar solution to give the patina of aged wood*. He wanted the shop to fit in with the existing Manor location, to appear as though it had always been part of the community’s fabric. In a nod to transparency, Krager added see-through garage doors in the back that are raised for open-air workouts and, when closed, invite curious passers-by to get a look at workouts.
*Dane pointed out after publication: “I worked on treating the wood with a couple of laborers, and we utilized a hand-pump sprayer filled with varying vinegar/water mixes to create the unique look. I can’t take credit for hand-treating each board; our efforts were collaborative.”
There’s a lot to be done before Dane’s Body Shop has its grand opening in late November. While the back space is finished out, the two front sections still need plumbing and electrical work (there’s that permit hold-up). The shop’s middle section will be another class space with bathroom and shower while the front area is a community room where folks can sit, sip, and surf the Net around workouts.
Until that grand opening, regular free Sunday workouts provide a “teaser” for what Krager offers to gym members. “These are a less technical version of the fusion class,” Krager explained. “We want to give a taste of what we do in a safe atmosphere where everybody can have a good time.” (To join in the free Sunday workouts, check Dane’s Body Shop website and social media for schedule as locations alternate between the Guadalupe flagship and eastside shops.)
A gregarious guy, Krager enjoys making fitness connections. “What I love [about the new Manor location] is that we’re not advertising and people are walking up, taking a look in the windows, and asking questions,” he said. It’s true; while we were standing out front talking in June, at least one person drove up to ask, “Hey — when is this opening up?” I’ve watched the remodeling process with fascination and am itching to get inside to try it out.
My husband has already sampled the free Sunday workout (sadly, I had a conflict in San Antonio that morning, but I’ll make the next one). He excitedly pointed out that it took only 7 minutes to walk over…and about an hour for Dane to kick his ass, albeit in a nice, welcoming way.
Find Out More
Those interested in learning more about the gym should send an email to office director John Whiteley (firstname.lastname@example.org), who’ll happily set up a personal tour. Follow social media sites (or email, if you’re a Dane’s Body Shop member) for news on the upcoming grand opening. And, if you happen to be passing by and see some activity onsite, stop in. That tall, movie-star-handsome workman is most likely Krager. He even issued this invitation:
“Walk up and say ‘hi.’ We’ll give you the best handshake you’ve ever had.”