From Bingo to Body Building, Church Building Finds New Life

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HAZLETON -- No bingo, no bazaars and definitely no bake sales. While generations of Hazleton residents came to the Holy Trinity Parish Center on Wyoming Street for celebrations, it's now a place for a changing city to shape up.

Jim Kapuchinski used to own Club Fit in Hazleton, but for years he looked at the parish center and imagined it as the perfect place for his gym.

After a church merger, the building came on the market, and he made his move.

"I wanted it pretty bad. I knew I wanted to move my business, and this was the place I felt would be the best place," said Kapuchinski.

After the purchase, the real work started.

A year and a half of back-breaking renovations began. During the same time Jim held down a full-time job and got married to his wife Karina.

"It's a big building. There is lots of painting to be done, but when they did the demolition, and they took out all the cement walls, it left cement dust absolutely everywhere. We must have cleaned this place 50 times. It just kept coming back," added Kapuchinski.

New heating, new lights, and new bathrooms topped the list of improvements. Even the old ticket booth out front was transformed into a tribute to bodybuilding.

Uncles, cousins and even a karate class all pitched in and helped, keeping the cost to around a quarter of a million dollars.

The old basketball court was refinished into new floors, and a second story balcony was built, which is home to an indoor running track. Jim even put in murals with scenes of New York City to add to the stylish atmosphere.

By the new year, the gym was ready to open, except for the name.

Jim wanted to name the facility "Holy Fit" in honor of the building's history, but his mom Roseann had other ideas. He remembers, "She said if you do anything for me, don't name it Holy Fit!"

Roseann explains, "I didn't like the name ‘Holy Fit,’ I didn't want to be disgraceful since this was our parish.”

Mother and son settled on the name "Lift."

It's something they believe the gym will provide it's neighborhood on the outskirts of downtown Hazleton.

"We're right in the heart of the city. A lot of my members can walk right to the gym. They love it," said Kapuchinski.