The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

In the Spotlight

August 9, 2013

Building strength: Gym owner wants to make a difference in kids’ lives

JOHNSTOWN — To call Fitness Weights and Aerobics simply a gym would be an understatement.

“It’s a community center,” said Oscar Cashaw, owner of the facility at 200 Lincoln St. in downtown Johnstown.

Cashaw’s venture into the fitness world began when he was employed as a personal trainer by the Johnstown YMCA, working mostly with women.

“A lot of my clients wanted to have a facility where they didn’t feel intimidated and asked me to open my own place,” the 59-year-old Johnstown resident said.

In 2001, he opened he first all-female gym in the area, Fitness Weights Aerobics, in the Moxham neighborhood.

During that time Cashaw became involved with young people in the community and invited them to use his facility after a local boxing club closed.

By 2003, Cashaw had decided to open up the gym for everyone and incorporated the gym facility with newly formed Flood City Boxing Academy.

After relocating a few times, Fitness Weights and Aerobics moved into its current site on July 16, 2012.

“It’s the ideal location,” Cashaw said.

The one-floor, 18,000-square-foot facility is a full fitness center that features an indoor track, cardio machines, free weights, universal machine stations and weight machines.

There also are aerobics and classes in Zumba, youth fitness, boxing, martial arts, wrestling and mixed martial arts as well as group classes for companies and special needs classes.

A recreation room is used for teen dances and movie nights, and young people also can play pool or pingpong.

To help those unable to pay for a gym membership, Cashaw works with CoventryCares’ Movers and Shapers Fitness Program, which provides a free yearly membership to those who have the insurance.

“I don’t want to turn anyone away,” he said.

Cashaw was instrumental in forming the Flood City Youth & Fitness Academy, which is committed to helping families become involved in the fight against obesity and promotes healthy lifestyle habits.

In 2010, the academy joined the Cambria County Health & Wellness Committee and created the Childhood Obesity Prevention and Corrective Action Program for children and teens ages 6 through 15.

During the summer, classes are held at 10 a.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays at the gym. During the school year, classes are at 4 p.m.

“I want to engage the youth and make a difference in their lives. That’s what I’m trying to do,” Cashaw said.

Thanks to recently received grant money, Cashaw was able to buy new equipment for the facility.

A $1,000 grant from the Community Foundation for the Alleghenies was used to purchase boxing equipment for the amateur boxing program.

A $15,000 grant from the Ronald McDonald House Charities went to purchase 18 pieces of exercise equipment geared toward 5- to 15-year-olds.

Cashaw hopes to add toddler equipment for ages 4 through 6 that will enage them in exercise.

He’s also looking into creating a safe house program where kids could come in the evenings and participate in a variety of activities.

“I want to get kids off the streets and not worry about drugs or crime,” he said. “This will be a place where youth can come and feel safe, work on their self-esteem and learn life skills.”

What continues to motivate Cashaw to help those in the community is that he believes he’s doing God’s will.

“This is what he planned for me in this life,” he said.

For a complete list of services offered at Cashaw’s facility, visit www.floodcityboxing.org.

For more information, call 539-0164.

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