"When we originally moved here, we loved that we could walk to the harbor, work, the liquor store, the convenience store, the bars and restaurants; we could walk everywhere. The one place we couldn’t walk was to our gym. We used to have to get in the car and drive to a gym in Timonium which was the only option around here at the time."
Federal Hill Fitness
Owner: Andrea Shelby
“I received my MBA while living in London and soon decided to move back to Baltimore because that’s where my husband had been raised. We had recently married so we weren’t quite ready to establish roots in any particular community. We were looking around at houses and we fell in love with one in Federal Hill. We bought it thinking it would be a very short-term stint.
Our thought was that we had a lot of friends in this neighborhood, so while we were still young, it would be a great place for us to have fun for a few years.
We initially told ourselves that once we had kids we’d move out of the house and go to the county because we didn’t know about any of the schools down here. We started having kids and our friends started having kids. We put them all in the same neighborhood daycare and we loved it.
We said that once the kids got to be school age we’d think about moving. We soon discovered Federal Hill Prep and loved that too. Both of our boys went there, and we built very strong ties with the parent community through lots of volunteering and fundraising activities. Those Fed Hill Prep parents are still among our closest friends.
Next, we told ourselves that when the boys were middle school age we’d think about leaving the city because there wasn’t a middle school down here at the time. We started looking for places to move outside of the city and we quickly realized that nothing compared to Federal Hill. We chose to stay in the neighborhood and send our boys to schools outside of the city. One of them is currently in college and we’re still in the same house… it wasn’t a short stint in Baltimore after all!
When we originally moved here, we loved that we could walk to the harbor, work, the liquor store, the convenience store, the bars and restaurants; we could walk everywhere. The one place we couldn’t walk was to our gym. We used to have to get in the car and drive to a gym in Timonium which was the only option around here at the time.
My husband and I started talking about the possibility of buying a piece of real estate in the formerly underdeveloped side of Cross Street. Our plan was to see if we could convince a gym from the county to rent the space, but the gym owners we approached didn’t recognize the market potential. We decided that since it was something our friends and us wanted, and it was definitely a missing amenity in our community, then we’d do it ourselves. I had an MBA, my husband was in marketing, so our thought was; how hard could it be? Of course, it was really hard.
Initially, we didn't plan to start a business that we were going to run. We set it up in 2002 and hired a consultant to help us manage it. My husband and I both still had our full-time jobs. As soon as I started having kids and needed a more flexible schedule, I decided I wanted to run the gym because it was so much fun. I was able to put my skill set to use doing something that would directly benefit my family and community. In 2004, I got more and more involved in the day-to-day and eventually took over running it. In 2008, we built MV Fitness in Mt Vernon and have been thrilled to be part of the wellness solution for so many Baltimoreans. It is so fulfilling to witness transformations, not just physically, but emotionally as well. We have been blessed with an amazing talent pool in Baltimore that keeps our staff at top levels, which is kindof our secret sauce! We could never run the gyms on our own, its our people that truly sets us apart.
My entire world revolves around this community and the gym. Every aspect of my life is intertwined with what's going on with the business because it's a part of this neighborhood. Federal Hill is where my friends and family all hang out.
It’s been twenty-some years since we moved here and we’re not thinking about leaving any time soon.”
About Federal Hill Fitness
We are a full service Baltimore gym & health club located in the heart of Historic Federal Hill. If you live or work in Federal Hill, SOBO, Otterbein, or Riverside, you’re probably a short walk away from access to this one-of-a-kind Baltimore health club.