When the Starlite Skate Center closed its doors last year after more than 50 years in business, it was unclear what would become of the building, and it seemed unlikely skating would return to Newton.
However, a local entrepreneur who purchased the building in order to convert it to a fitness center has found a way to keep the skating tradition alive, as well. The newly named "Ultimate Martial Arts Fun and Fitness" will offer both fitness classes and a skating rink for rental.
Chris Rangel, owner of the business, said it was his son who inspired him to carry on the skating tradition of the center.
"It's just a great social atmosphere," he said. "... It's just a good, wholesome, fun place."
Rangel's name is likely a familiar one for Newton residents. He opened his first business in 1992 and most recently operated the Ultimate Martial Arts location at the Chisholm Trail Shopping Center. In February, he moved Ultimate Martial Arts to the former Starlite skating rink, 130 E. Third St. in downtown Newton.
The new location became part of Rangel's son's entrepreneurship project. His son wanted to continue operating the skating rink, selling concessions and renting it out for private skating parties. The venue can be used for youth group or home-school group activities, birthday parties, fund-raisers and more.
Rangel said some might think skating is a trend of the past, but he's seen a renewed interest in skating from adults who want to introduce the pastime to their children. Retro music and classic games — such as the limbo — will add to the skating experience at the new center.
Rangel believes the facility had not been updated since the late 1970s. It now has a high-efficiency air conditioner so it can operate with a comfortable climate all year round.
The center is now designed to be easily converted between a gym and a skating rink. The center offers adult boot camp and fitness classes; cardio kick-boxing; speed and agility for high school and college athletes; Zumba; martial arts; and women's self-defense.
"We've utilized it for much more than a skate center," Rangel said.
For more information about the fitness center or skating rink, contact 283-0594 or (405) 650-0452, or visit www.selfdefensenewton.com.