Peter Kraus opening a second gym on South Park Street

Second gym closer to downtown Madison will have a more “sexy, moody” atmosphere than his first.
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Peter Kraus in his Middleton gym, Peter Kraus Fitness
Photo by Patrick Stutz

It’s been a combination of good, bad and serendipitous timing for Peter Kraus, who opened his first local gym in 2019 to great reception, then got hit by the pandemic and is now opening a near-downtown location in a space he had considered expanding into before COVID-19, but is now thankful he didn’t back then. 

The Wisconsin native and local personal trainer who gained fame as the runner-up on season 13 of “The Bachelorette” plans to open his second gym on South Park Street in January 2022. As opposed to the light, bright vibe of the boot camp-centric Middleton gym (Kraus’s first open), the Park Street spot will have more of a “sexy, moody” atmosphere with a group fitness focus. Both will be 24/7 fitness facilities for members.

Kraus’s foray into fitness

The first few months after opening the Middleton location (1826 Aurora St.) in 2019 had been going great. He was meeting all the goals he had set for himself, he said the community response was fantastic and they loved his gym space. 

“Everything I dreamed about was coming true with the business,” Kraus says. “And then the pandemic hit in month 11 and we had to shut down. Two months in and the bills were still piling up with no money coming in. It was scary.”

Kraus, now 35 years old, spent his first 20 years growing up in Madison before leaving for Chicago, Los Angeles and abroad for jobs in the modeling industry. While staying fit for his various on-camera appearances, Kraus noticed “inconsistencies” in his health habits, so as a naturally inquisitive person he decided to learn more about health and fitness, which eventually led to a college degree in dietetics. 

For the next few years Kraus continued to bounce around the country, working as a trainer in a variety of fitness clubs, before coming back to Madison in 2014 for the yearly Iron Man race. 

“I just remembered how much I loved the city after that experience, so I moved back and started an in-home personal training business back then in 2014,” Kraus says. “All of a sudden it’s 7.5 years later and I’m still here, now with two gyms.”

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Courtesy photos

Courtesy photos

Opening a second location

After his initial success, the pandemic rattled Kraus, who was forced to keep his first gym closed for nearly five months starting in March 2020. The money he had saved up meant to be a safety net for two years if he ever found himself unemployed was suddenly being used to keep his gym afloat for just a few months.

Once they were allowed to reopen, Kraus says he saw a couple flashes of light — people would start coming back in and revenue would balance out — but health mandates pushed people back out. It’s stayed that way for most of last year, with plenty of ups and downs along the way.

“It got to a point where I could either sit and wallow in [it], or just keep expanding and pray for the best,” Kraus says. “I could either put more money into advertising in a time where I don’t think it would help that much anyways, or I could build a second location and tap into a whole different population of people.”

So he contacted the building manager of his Middleton location, and asked about the South Park Street building that had just been constructed near the UW Health Arboretum Clinic. Kraus says they had conversations before the pandemic about a second gym in that building, but they were never able to work out an agreement. 

“Thank god we didn’t come to a conclusion back then, because then the pandemic hit almost right after,” Kraus says.

This time around they were able to work out a deal, and Kraus began working to revamp the space. However, as he and the rest of the world quickly learned, the ongoing supply chain shortages has a serious impact on a business trying to set up and open. 

Supply chain challenges

The second gym was initially supposed to open in September, but a litany of issues forced the date back to Jan. 3. A garage door used to connect the gym’s indoor space with a turf space is four months late (so far), elastic workout bands cost three times as much as they used to and toilet paper has to be ordered six weeks in advance. 

The rising costs of goods and the extra time it takes to ship has forced Kraus to do things he never expected to do in the process of owning a business. Instead of professional painters, Kraus asked his friends to come over and help paint the gym to save a few thousand dollars. Instead of hiring movers, Kraus had his friends help transport 600-pound rolls of turf.

“This has definitely been a learning experience. I know I’ll be stronger in the long run for it,” Kraus says. “It’s all challenging.”

As little bits are shipped at a time, Kraus is slowly putting the gym together. His ultimate goal is to create a space that’s a “sexy, darker and moody” alternative to his first gym, which is much brighter.

A weight set at Kraus's first gym.

A weight set at Kraus’s first gym. Photo by Jake Leskovar.

Bringing fitness classes to Park Street

Spin classes, organized yoga or other group fitness activities continue to become more popular with those who want to stay fit, and Kraus wants to bring those options to Park Street. 

“[My first gym] is more of a traditional boot camp, where this will be more like group fitness —  people moving in unison to the beat of the music with flashing neon lights,” Kraus says. “There will still be the garage door turf boot camp workout, but we want more beat-based movements [at the second location].”

Most of the group fitness gyms in Madison are right downtown by the capitol, think CycleBar or Orange Shoe, where the South Park area was mostly devoid of a gym.  

“The combination of the lights, the music and the workout itself is just a different feel and a different fun class that you can’t really find anywhere else,” Kraus says. “I think I teach a very specific type of boot camp or fitness class that isn’t really in Madison.”

While the classes are Kraus’s passion, the gym will also stay open as a 24/7 fitness facility for anyone with a membership. Plus, you can add onto a membership to Kraus’s first gym if you want to mix and match plans.

Kraus says he can’t wait for the second location to open, which he hopes will solidify his reputation as someone who is a leader in the Madison fitness community, rather than just the guy who was on TV. 

“I want people to realize they can come to my classes, be very comfortable and know that I’m extremely knowledgeable in the field,” he says. “There is absolutely no judgement involved. You can get a good workout in, make friends and have fun in the process.”

Nathan Denzin is an editorial intern for Madison Magazine.

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