One of Us

John DiPatre


John DiPatre is the owner of New Meridian Fitness, which is located in The Veranda office complex. Recently, he held a “grand re-opening” to unveil a 1,300-square-foot expansion.

Tell me a little bit about New Meridian Fitness.

There’s 24/7 access, and we have six trainers — very qualified, many years’ experience. But the best part about this gym is it’s really like a neighborhood environment where you can get a fun, challenging workout.

If you want to work hard, you can work hard. If you just want to feel good, you can do that. But the best part about it is people meet people and they form relationships. They develop clients for their businesses from people they meet here. That’s what we’ve always wanted to establish, just a neighborhood environment.

What kind of equipment and programs do you have?

The equipment is basic. We’ve added cardio since we had the expansion. We have selectorized equipment. We have tons of free weights. We have stability balls, bands — everything you need for rehab to muscle-building and general fitness and weight loss.

We have group training, which is probably the most popular and affordable, and one-on-one training. We have added a chiropractor who does acupuncture, cupping and dry needling. And we have a massage therapist.

When did you take over ownership of the facility?

It was August of ’21. Initially, I worked for Meridian Fitness back in 2003. It was in another location. That owner moved it here. And after about three years, he sold it to someone else. And I worked for (the second owner) until 2019. I went to another gym. Then, here, the owner’s lease was up, and he decided to close it down.

I bought some equipment from him, and then revamped it. Changed the whole look of it, put a lot of money into it. Bought new equipment, painted it, renovated it, basically.

I started up with basically the clientele I had at the other gym. Then, one of the trainers who worked with me came with her clientele. And Angela (Richmond, DiPatre’s girlfriend) had some clients. We just started growing it from there.

I decided to do some memberships. Then, in the summer, three other trainers came from another gym and brought their clients with them.

Tell me about your background.

I’ve always been into lifting weights because I played football. I played professionally in Canada and Europe. I got out of football when I was 29 years old; I had a shoulder injury, and I just knew I was not going to be able to compete at that level.

I started working the front desk at a Gold’s Gym, and there was a guy who was opening a personal training gym, first of its kind in San Marco, back in 1999. He said, “Hey, you might be good at this.”

So, I started doing that. And then I moved to California and continued personal training out there. When I moved back, I started at Meridian Fitness in 2003.

What do you like most about what you do?

You meet all kinds of people. … What I really enjoy is just seeing personalities change, such as with young athletes. They come in real timid, and they start lifting weights. They’re feeling good and they come in and they’re talking and laughing.

Same thing with the grown-ups. They lose a little bit of weight, and they feel good about themselves. They’ve got more energy. And then they develop into a personality here, because we do have fun.

I enjoy coming to work every day, working with the clients, the trainers. There’s always energy and it’s upbeat and fun.

Where are you from originally?

Initially born in California. Kind of moved all over the East Coast with my family in my teenage years. Ended up in Jacksonville because my father started a business here. So, probably since the mid ‘80s I’ve been in the Jacksonville area.

I had a brief stint in California for a couple of years. Since I moved back in the early 2000s, I’ve been in Ponte Vedra.

What do you like about living here?

I love the sunshine. I love the warm weather. Some of the people I’ve met. The Jaguars.

How do you spend your free time?

[Laughs] At the gym! We both [DiPatre and Richmond] love lifting weights, so this is really our home away from home. We love our families, and we spend time with them, and really working out and trying to better the facility is a lot of our time.