A Glow Up for Downtown Zachary LandmarkJan 18, 2024 02:37PM ● By Lauren Pope
Image curtesy of https://www.instagram.com/thebootcrossfit/
If you’ve driven through downtown over the last few weeks, you’ve probably seen Courtney Yoes hard at work on The Boot Fitness mural. The mural represents the finishing touch on what has been several years of hard work by founder and coach Jodie Haney at renovating the building best known to Zachary residents as the old Trio Theater.
The Trio opened in the late 1940s and for almost 30 years, it anchored Zachary’s Main Street. Many a couple, including, we’re told, Debbie and Randy Brian, shared a first kiss in the back row of the single-stage theater. We’ve also been told that parents who wanted a little alone time would send their kids to the theater for the afternoon. All the biggest movies of the '50s and '60s were shown at the Trio, illuminated by actual flame footlights.
However, the history of the Trio isn’t completely nostalgic. Like many other theaters of its time, it had segregated seating that required Black customers to sit in an upstairs balcony accessible only from a rickety staircase located outside the building.
“Getting rid of that staircase was one of the first things I did when I started renovating,” explains Jodie. “We had the Zachary High Swim Team come to tear it down, and then I got a great picture of the whole team up in what was the segregated balcony sort of symbolically saying that this place is for everyone.”
But there was much more work to do on the building than just removing that old staircase. The building was made from an old concrete Quonset Hut so the exterior bones were pretty sturdy, but the interior had fallen into disrepair over the years since the Trio closed in the '70s. Though the building remained in the family, it never saw such widespread use again. It operated as a garden nursery and later as storage, but not as the community hub that it had originally been. A lot needed to be done inside to get the space to be a functioning gym.
“Everyone, including the building's owner, told me that it would be cheaper and easier to just tear it down and start again,” Jodie explained, “but I wanted to save the building. I saw the promise in the space. Because the floor in what had been the theater was slanted for stadium seating, we had to pour about an entire swimming pool's worth of concrete down to make it even. There wasn’t a true ceiling lighting system when we came in, it was just some lights dangling down by extension cords. We had everything done from electrical work, to new wall panels and an entirely new entryway. New bathrooms. We had six contractors turn us down outright, and one gave us such a high estimate that he knew there’d be no way we could do it. But then I found the one willing to do the job. He did an amazing job, despite it being bigger than we had even guessed. That’s why we hung a plaque outside for him!
The investment into the building has been significant, much of that self-funded by the Haneys. Whitney Bank agreed to match funding because they recognized that restoring the building would be a great asset to the City of Zachary. Jodie has business experience in visual advertising, so she made decisions on the finish of the building to help it integrate into the existing buildings on Main Street.
“The grey paint that we used is the same shade as the grey on the Catholic Church. The font and color we used for the mural echoes the font used on the City of Zachary buildings across the street. We wanted the building to feel like it belongs downtown.”
Now, once again, downtown Zachary has a community hub. Although pumping iron is a bit different than grabbing some popcorn and candy at the theater, The Boot still exists as a third place for people to gather outside of their homes or work. The Boot caps its classes at 12 people to provide a semi-private training model. That means that athletes really get to know their classmates and are there to cheer for them when they succeed and build them up when they struggle.
“The camaraderie keeps them coming even when they’re having a bad day and don’t really feel like exercising. But once they’re here, what helps them succeed in their fitness goals are our expert coaches and staff. I train everyone above and beyond their base CrossFit certification, so all of our athletes know that they are getting safe, expert advice on how to do each exercise.”
Ready to get started? Contact The Boot at [email protected] | (225) 480-5239