Photos by Ed Olen
Elaine and Richard Gjonovich
THE LOCATION 210 N. El Camino Real, San Clemente, (949) 366-1010; outdoorfitnessonline.org
THE OWNER After Elaine Gjonovich had heart surgery in 2001, she began hiking with friends once a week and discovered both the physical and emotional benefits. A personal trainer and known as the local fitness guru, Gjonovich had been receiving requests from members of the community to start an outdoor fitness practice, and in October 2001 started the Outdoor Fitness Adventure Club. Now, 30 classes are offered every week, consisting of an array of activities from hiking to kayaking to yoga. This past April, Gjonovich and her husband Richard, whom she met hiking in the San Jacinto Mountains, opened the Outdoor Fitness Adventure Store. Gjonovich believes that outdoor activities are particularly valuable for those living fast-paced lives in Orange County. She says that some of the best friendships she’s made were through this organization. “We want to continue to create that sense of community and have it be a fun, positive experience, and then the by-product is a really good workout.”
THE AMBIENCE Infinitely smaller and more specialized than REI and other outdoor retail giants, the Outdoor Fitness Adventure Store provides easy-to-maneuver products and open floor space. Richard, who designed and built the store, says that his goal was to “bring elements of the outdoors in.” A small waterfall greets customers and provides a calming soundtrack to non-stressful browsing. Pale green walls and wood paneling give the store a very natural, earthy feel. It is nearly impossible not to feel the hectic everyday stress melting away and being replaced with the longing for simplicity and joy within the natural. As Gjonovich hopes, it is indeed easy to leave the store wanting to step back into nature.
THE PRODUCT Not only does Gjonovich have a wealth of knowledge to offer, but her store also only carries products that she and her husband have researched and been impressed with, making browsing much easier. Although there aren’t as many options as within a superstore, what is there is guaranteed to be quality. Whether the anticipated activity is backpacking, cross country skiing or Pilates, proper athletic apparel and necessities, from first aid kits to bug repellent, are waiting for the next excursion.
THE BOTTOM LINE Personal assistance in experiencing a heightened revelation of nature’s joys.