Owner of Martial Arts Studio Breaks Ground on York County Wellness Complex

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Baeplex owner Joseph Ash shares the story of how he got started in martial arts. (Marie Albiges/WYDaily)

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The site of what York County officials are calling a wellness complex fit for “world-class competition” has started to move dirt.

Joseph Ash is bringing his vision of an Asian-style fitness and wellness campus to a 6.2-acre tract of land at the end of Bulifants Boulevard in Upper York County.

He broke ground on the new site of the Baeplex health and wellness complex Wednesday with his family, his mentor Alex Bae and members of the York County community.

“I’m excited that today, as we plant the roots to the grounds of this beautiful campus, that we can pursue the vision of a place that’s safe for future generations to gather, to learn, to share, and grow into positive citizens of the world,” he told the crowd. “Even though we have done so much, I feel that were just beginning to branch out and to reach our full potential.”

Complete with an outdoor exercise space, a room for weight training and exercise machines, gardens, a massage room, outdoor running trails and a designated area for meditation, the new 12,000-square-foot Baeplex building will be finished by 2018. Ash expects the first phase to be completed by fall 2015.

Designed by Williamsburg architect John Hopke, the three buildings that will make up the new fitness complex will feature natural light and Japanese gates known as torii gates.

“My vision was to take our success at building a community of martial arts learners and add in more activities – from peacefulness of outdoor meditation to the stretching of yoga to the strength building of weight training,” said Ash in a news release describing the components of the new building.

The groundbreaking was attended by District 1 Supervisor Walt Zaremba, Economic Development Director Jim Noel and EDA Business Development Representative Melissa Davidson, who, with the rest of the attendees, learned how to break a board in half with their bare hands.

Zaremba called Baeplex a “unique” and “special” resource for thousands of citizens seeking programs in health and wellness in the greater Williamsburg area.

“We know darn well this is going to be a great addition to the quality of life,” he said, adding he envisioned the facility would bring “world-class competition” to the Greater Williamsburg area.

Ash, who took over the Baeplex center in 1997 from Bae, is currently based in James City County and will continue to operate from his studio in space he rents on John Tyler Highway until the new York County building is completed.

Ash received a $25,000 grant from the York County EDA to help with the construction.  The total project is estimated to cost more than $3 million.

“Our themes of resiliency, positivity and community add to all the martial arts teaches us. We are more than just learning techniques of self-defense, we are about stretching to meet our potential, and this site is a dream of mine,” Ash said in the release. “By stretching to make this a reality, I hope to inspire others to reach for their dreams, and to grow our BAEPLEX community.”

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Correction 5/14/15: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated the new building's square footage. The correct square footage is 12,000. 

Owner of Martial Arts Studio Breaks Ground on York County Wellness Complex