New Businesses On Tap At Former Ansonia YMCA

CCC YMCA WEBSITEANSONIA — In addition to a new training club operated by a former pro MMA fighter, two additional businesses are being planned at the former YMCA building at 12 State St.

The building was purchased by 470 Howe Ave. LLC. State business records list 470 Howe Ave. LLC as the new property owner. It lists the principal as Biagio Barone, a developer partnered with John Guedes, of The Primrose Companies. According to the Town Clerk’s office, the property’s sale was finalized on Sept. 27.

The building will hold three business:

  • Team Tugman Wrestling Club, which is up and running
  • Evolution Athletics Club, which is under construction
  • Infant Aquatics Connecticut, which is under construction
  • The two business not opened yet could be open by the end of this year

Those businesses are owned by The Original Sport, LLC, which is owned by wife and husband Dena Blum-Rothman and Phillip Rothman.

MMA Fighter Trains Wrestlers
Team Tugman Wrestling Club, run by Blair ‘The Bull Shark’ Tugman, focuses on training youth wrestlers. It’s currently open within the former YMCA building. Tugman is partnering with The Original Sport, LLC in the venture.

Tugman is a mixed martial arts fighter who fought professionally in Bellator MMA. Team Tugman has been training fighters for a decade in Connecticut, and was originally based in Branford.

Tugman’s pro fighting record was 11-7, according to Sherdog, a combat sports website.

Evolution Athletics Club
The second business, Evolution Athletics Club, is a start-up health and fitness club run by Blum-Rothman’s husband, Philip Rothman.

It’s not your typical club that charges monthly membership fees, Blum-Rothman said. The club will contract with individual fitness providers (personal trainers, class instructors, etc.) and provide them with use of the facilities in exchange for a share of revenues.

“Personal trainers, for example, who don’t have a space of their own, will come here with their own clients,” Blum-Rothman said.

Blum-Rothman said the athletics club will be located on the first floor of the building, which is undergoing a complete interior renovation “gutted right down to the studs,” she said in the quest for “a gorgeous new space.”

Infant Aquatics Connecticut
The third business, Infant Aquatics Connecticut, is run by Blum-Rothman herself.

Blum-Rothman is a certified swimming instructor who is trained in infant aquatics, and will be operating on the building’s first floor.

Once open the business will provide swimming lessons to infants and toddlers, with a mission to provide young children with skills sufficient to let them save themselves should they accidentally fall into water, according to Blum-Rothman. In business for 14 years, Blum-Rothman plans to hire at least 10 additional instructors in an effort to reach more children.

Blum-Rothman currently has 400 clients and a waitlist for families wishing to have their children trained in aquatic survival safety.

She has operated her program at various YMCAs and other facilities around the state.

In Ansonia, Blum-Rothman said she hopes to expand the program’s offerings to include a strokes program for older children, and potentially adults, and may provide, through third parties, lifeguard training, scuba training and other water-based programs.

City Officials Happy
Economic Development Director Sheila O’Malley said she’s excited to see the former YMCA get a new lease on life.

“Residents in Ansonia and throughout the Valley are familiar with the YMCA and generations have used the Y for recreational purposes, so the fit (with these new businesses) is perfect,” O’Malley said. “The repurposing of the building will add diverse new programs to our community. The building offers a fresh new face to athletics.”

The 97-year old building was home to the YMCA from 1924 until last year, when officials said the economic fallout caused by COVID-19 forced the location to close. The Hamden/North Haven YMCA also fell victim to the pandemic.

The Ansonia building was purchased for $440,000.

Guedes said he is investing $880,000 in renovations and upgrades to the building to accommodate the recreational training tenants.

Blum-Rothman said she and her husband were originally pursuing building a new facility in nearby Shelton to house the businesses, but the pandemic caused them to change plans and look for a building already in place.

Blum-Rothman is hopeful both her swim program and Evolution Athletics can open by the end of the year. She said the pandemic caused delays with the production of fitness equipment, but added she is “super excited” about coming to Ansonia.

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