Robb Report Apr 04

Joe Acheson’s needs were simple. The bachelor, who used to spend most of the year sailing around the world, was settling down and getting married. He had bought a fixer-upper in Grosse Pointe Park, Mich., where he wanted a gym installed above the four-car garage to suit a personalized workout routine. Mark Harigian delivered both.

“I flew out to evaluate his goals,” says the Los Angeles-Based Harigian. “We walked around the house as it was being renovated, and I got a feel for his taste and interests. I try to turn the gym into a playroom. That usually entices clients.”

Harigian is a former fitness trainer who has progressed to high-end gym installations and equipment manufacturing for private clients. Everything is customized and personalized, from the stainless steel laser-cut weight stacks to the shape of the handles and the stamped Connolly leather seating. “The equipment is all sized to fit the Achesons biomechanically,” Harigian says. “Every seat, lever, and pulley is on hydraulics, so they can push a button and [the machine] reverts to their adjustments.”

The first items Harigian found were light fixtures from the Flash Gordon movies that set the retro tone. To inject some color, Harigian brought in an old blue Pepsi machine and painted the vintage lockers the same color. Another find–a pre-World War I rower–is mounted on blue Ultrasuede on a wall. To combat Michigan’s long winters, he added a tanning bed. A boxing bag on a swivel arm is covered in gentler-on-the-hands suede. With an adjoining steam room and a pool installed in one of the garage bays, the Achesons have a full-fledged resort.

Since Harigian cannot hop on a plane every time the couple wants to work out, he made a real-time coaching video. “The hardest thing is to keep everyone on the same schedule,” he says, “With an individualized tape, they can exercise whenever it is convenient for them–and that is the best motivational tool.”