Austin may physically be a large city, but when it comes to the fitness community, it’s a small circle. It is with great sadness that Austin Fit Magazine notes a loss to our community—on November 23, 2011, Paolo Minissi died at the age of 54.Minissi was best known in the Austin community as the owner and manager of Castle Hill Fitness, which he founded nine years ago after a successful stint in the business world. Castle Hill Fitness, located on North Lamar, is a local gym with a loyal membership; for the past three years, readers have selected the facility as “Best Gym in Austin” in the Austin Fit Magazine “Best of” yearly poll.
In addition to founding Castle Hill Fitness, Minissi also opened a rowing club on Lady Bird Lake in 1999, the Rowing Dock. According to information from his autobiography, Minissi designed and built the floating dock himself. People of all abilities continue to use the Rowing Dock for kayak, paddleboat, and stand-up paddleboard rentals. For many Austinites, rowing is the way to get out on the water, exercise, and see the city from a different vantage point.
Minissi loved to cycle and according to his staff, “Paolo was an avid cyclist who enjoyed seeing the world from the seat of his Pinarello.” It was fitting, then, that his life was celebrated in December with a memorial bike ride, which included a climb up Mt. Bonnell. In addition, Minissi’s family requested that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to Austin’s Yellow Bike Project, an all-volunteer group whose initiative is educating the public about cycling (mechanics and maintenance) through providing community bike shops and advocacy throughout Austin and central Texas.
“Paolo was a man who lived life to its fullest,” said Amy Rogers, Marketing and Programs Manager at Castle Hill Fitness. “He had a vision of developing a community focused around health and fitness without compromise.” Many in the community shared stories of Minissi on Castle Hill Fitness’s website. Matt Welch spoke of Minissi as a mentor and reminisced, “Part coach, bike mechanic, and training mentor, Paolo was always there to give advice, help, and support to those who needed it. Whenever I walked into Castle Hill Fitness and saw Paolo, I was always greeted with a welcoming ‘Buongiorno!’ I will forever remember his smile, his friendliness, and the professionalism of his business.”
Vlad Glouchkov, Castle Hill Fitness’s Business Manager, best summed up the feelings of the Castle Hill Fitness family. “As we prepare to comprehend the true impact Paolo’s absence will have on our lives, I know (just like Paolo believed) that we will be okay. Time will heal our pain. The spirit of Paolo is all around us.”