Matt Joyce (above) has played 12 seasons in the major leagues, signing most recently to play this year for the Miami Marlins, but he knows he can’t play baseball forever.

A big part of his transition into expanding his post-baseball portfolio kicked off June 13, with the Grand Opening of F45 Training off Bruce B. Downs (BBD) Blvd. in The Walk at Highwoods Preserve, next to some new restaurants (see page 34).

Joyce, an opening day starter in the outfield for the Tampa Bay Rays in 2009 and a Rays All-Star representative in 2011, his wife Brittany and business partner Blair Johnson have bought into the F45 Training franchise, and the New Tampa location is the first of theirs to open. Another location at Sparkman Wharf in downtown Tampa is just beginning construction, and Joyce expects to open another three by the summer of 2021.

Although the New Tampa F45 Fitness has been open since May 23, with attendance limited by Covid-19 restrictions, the Grand Opening capped the first week at full throttle for the fitness center, which stresses Functional 45-minute workouts; hence, F45.

The music was booming, instructions were barked out and dozens of fitness-minded folks went through high intensity workouts throughout the day, as Joyce expressed delight at the turnout.

“Getting it open is really the silver lining in all of this,” said Joyce, who has been a constant presence at the center since Major League Baseball postponed spring training Mar. 12. “It’s been a whirlwind offseason.”

During spring training with the Marlins, Johnson was making sure the build-out at F45 was going smoothly as Joyce handled the administrative duties. But, with no baseball, Joyce became a fixture at the New Tampa location and currently works out alongside members.

Joyce and Johnson met by chance at Armature Works (north of downtown), where they ended up having a discussion about fitness. Johnson asked Joyce if he had ever heard of F45, which piqued his interest. 

After a few workouts at the Land O’Lakes location, the former Ray was hooked. The idea of owning a franchise (or a few) was appealing, and the New Tampa location was an 18-month project.

“I’m wired more for stuff like business, real estate and finance,” Joyce says. “I enjoy that side of things. So, it was a perfect combination.”

Founded in Australia in 2011, F45 is high-intensity, low impact training and, according to its website, is the fastest-growing fitness franchise in the world. The smaller, more specialized instructor-led group workouts are similar to what competitors like Orangetheory and Row House do, but with what Joyce says is a greater variety of exercises, as F45 boasts more than 35 programs consisting of more than 1,300 different exercises.

Joyce says the new location is continuing to grow an already solid membership base, and many of the classes, even the 5 and 6 a.m. classes, have had great turnouts.

“We’ve crushed it,” Joyce says. “We really believe in it, people are enjoying it and we are getting fantastic reviews. I think a lot of people are going to like it.”

Tell Joyce, Johnson and the staff at F45 (18035 Highwoods Preserve Pkwy.) that you read about them in Neighborhood News. For more info, call (813) 560-4047. There also is a separate new F45 Training located at 10701 Cross Creek Blvd. For info, call (813) 522-5332.

CRACKING THE CODE: While Grain & Berry has the distinction of being the first business to open in the new Villages at Hunter’s Lake plaza, TheCoderSchool New Tampa (8632 Hunter’s Village Rd.) wasn’t far behind.

Although TheCoderSchool didn’t begin its summer camps until June 22, the learning center held its sneak preview event on June 13, the same day Grain & Berry opened.

Owned by Mike and Lesly Ramirez Olavarria, TheCoderSchool is a franchise focused on teaching kids to do computer coding year-round. Founded in 2014 with its headquarters in Silicon Valley, CA, the school offers after-school classes and summer camps for those interested in learning computer languages like Scratch, Python and Java.

At the New Tampa location, there are classes for kids ages 7-18, who will learn to code and do things like build apps and present their projects at a Coder Fair.

The teachers are professional coders, professionals who teach coding and computer science students at the University of South Florida, depending upon the level of class in which the student enrolls.

Many of the classes have a 2-to-1 student-to-teacher ratio, to enhance learning.

“We’re both in the IT field,”  says Lesly (far right in photo above), “and coding has helped in our careers. We want to pass that on….it’s another tool for your tool belt.”

While the summer classes are in person, Lesly says the fall classes will depend upon what happens with the Covid-19 situation. The school has been able to hold online coding classes, and may continue to do so if the pandemic causes another disruption during the 2020-21 school year.

That hasn’t stopped people from calling to sign up, however. “The phone has been ringing off the hook since we scheduled the Grand Opening,” Lesly says.

Those who do call can get 25-percent-off their first month of classes, and a discount is available for summer camps as well. Lesly says she understands many have been affected by Covid-19, but she will try to work with anyone who is interested in classes. 

For more info, call TheCoderSchool New Tampa at (813) 422-5566.

TAAZA INDIAN MART OPENS: Taaza Mart is now open in the Market Square at Tampa Palms plaza, occupying the former Staples location.

The first thing you notice when you walk in? It’s spacious, and feels much larger than its 16,500 square feet.

The all-Indian grocery will be a welcome addition for New Tampa’s large Indian population, with its wide selection of fresh produce like Indian eggplant, dosakai, dudhi and others.

It also offers Halal meats and there is an ample supply of various spices, as well as the largest selection of multiple varieties of basmati, sona masoori and ponni rice around.

In the back of the store, a small café serves hot food from a South Indian menu that includes a dozen different types of dosa and an Indo-Chinese menu with various chicken and chili dishes, as well as curry fried rice and curry noodles. There also is a bakery.

Taaza Mart (6260 Commerce Palms Dr.) has been open for just over a month, and is open Mon.-Thur., 11 a.m.-7 p.m., and 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Fri.-Sun. For more information, call (813) 564-8100 or visit

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