Despite a pandemic, a burned-out town, and a freak heat wave, over 100 people walked through the doors of 6848 Skyway Suite T on June 27, 2020. They came from many backgrounds, but their mission was the same: support a brave new business born on the Ridge.
Last Saturday marked the Grand Opening Celebration for Paradise Stronger, a dynamic new wellness center for the community. The event was celebrated with the Town’s first Wellness Fair post-fire, with fellow businesses Positive I, Curves, and PRPD, coming together to serve the community with free health and wellness information. Both the center and fair are the brainchild of Aaron Singer, longtime Paradise resident and most recently the Fitness Director and Crossfit coach at Beyond Fitness.
“The idea of Paradise Stronger came to me when I was thinking about bringing a gym back to Paradise,” Singer said. “I wanted to bring back more than a gym. I wanted this to be Paradise’s wellness center. I want it to belong to the community.”
He decided to open the facility as a non-profit, allowing organizations from all walks of wellness to be able to offer programs. In addition to the gym and fitness classes onsite, Singer has partnered with key wellness advocates like Adventist Health, Paradise Recreation and Park District, Paradise Green Cafe, and others to create unique health opportunities for the Ridge community. A few of his favorites? Cooking and nutrition classes, rooftop gardening, guided hikes, and “Walk with the Doc” sessions for active learning.
“Fitness doesn’t have to be in a gym,” Singer said. “My hope is to be a catalyst for health. We want to be a hub for everybody to get healthy in their own way.”
Singer’s excitement is palpable, evident in his joy for helping his hometown recover. “We’re doing something new and different, and it’s going to be huge!” But opening the center hasn’t come without its challenges. “I’ve never opened a business before,” he admitted. “It’s humbling to be in this arena.” Many of the normal questions ran through his mind: Will this work? When should we open? Will people come?
His answer: Surround yourself with people who support your vision. “I went out and I found the best minds I could think of. I surrounded myself with people who had experience and who were willing to invest in the concept. And I talked to different people about what their wants would be in Paradise.”
Backed by the approval of many in the community and buoyed by the support of his wife Shannon, Singer also secured funding from the North Valley Community Foundation, Adventist Health, the Paradise Rotary Foundation, and many individual sponsors who believe in the center and want people to recover on the Ridge.
“I’ve found the community wants people to come back,” Singer observed. “The people who are already here are ready and waiting for businesses to come back and support them. They want to see this town renewed. You’re going to have an outcry of support when you come up here.”
Now fully operating as a registered 501c3, Paradise Stronger is open for classes and personal training. Singer and his team are hard at work on building out their new community programs as quickly as possible and look forward to bringing people together as they rebuild and recover.
“These are people I love,” Singer smiled. “I want just as much good for them as much as I want for myself. This is home.”