➤ Cole Fusion Fitness
This single-story gym at the corner of 11th Avenue and Bannock Street is perhaps the Denver fitness community’s best-kept secret. Which is exactly how owner Frankie Cole likes it. Cole, a native of Nigeria who grew up in England before earning the Colorado title in natural bodybuilding in 1994, is more interested in creating physical transformation than marketing campaigns. His gym reflects his core value that hard work equals results. Inside the 8,500-square-foot gym, the vibe is old-school, with high-energy dance music, heavy weights, and well-used equipment. Members can access the facility for solo workouts, but Cole Fusion specializes in small-group training sessions, with Cole leading up to five participants through strength and cardio workouts. The sessions go beyond lifting weights and running on treadmills to include diet and lifestyle counseling. Prospective members can get a sense for Cole’s style at his Saturday morning Body Rock class—a 60-minute workout open to all fitness levels (and body types, as evidenced by the group at the class we attended). If the weather is nice, Cole sends the class outside to run around the block between sets. He plays the drill sergeant role well, but his heart is at least as big as his biceps. “My goal is to first get people involved,” he says, “and then to create an experience that hooks them for life.” Cole is building out an indoor cycling space and a yoga/barre studio to appeal to a wider clientele, but in case anyone thinks he’s going mainstream: “They’ll be in the basement,” Cole says with a grin.