A little piece of one Rhode Island community is gone forever with the passing of Thomas “Tommy” Kloza, who owned Ocean State Body Builders — the “longest active gym” in the state.
“There’s no other gym in this state that’s been around for 41 years. He’s outlasted franchise gyms like Gold’s Powerhouse and World,” Ted Isabella, who said he has gone to the gym for 35 years, said.
Kloza made the gym a piece of its members’ lives, Isabella said.
Members of Ocean State Body Builders remember longtime owner Thomas “Tommy” Kloza who suddenly died in the parking lot of the gym on Thanksgiving morning. https://t.co/PvCyP0lYqw
— NBC 10 WJAR (@NBC10) November 30, 2022
“It’s not a business, this is a gym family. We all do for each other, we all take care of each other, we all protect each other, we’ve all helped each other, competing and what not. And it’s all because of Tommy. Tommy gave us that family, Tommy gave us that environment,” Isabella said.
The gym’s future is uncertain, although Isabella said its members and Kloza’s brother would like to keep it open.
“Tommy’s little army like myself and all the guys here that love him and wish he was still here with us is going to keep this gym running,” Isabella said.
Kloza “was the owner and operator of the Ocean State Gym in Johnston for over 40 years. He was an avid sports fan of the Patriots, Bruins and other sports as well,” according to his obituary.
A tribute page for Kloza reflected what he meant to others.
“Of the 22 years I trained there Tommy was my friend and confident for so many trials and tribulations I faced. He was always a source of advise and positive reinforcement. He was also my friend and life won’t be the same without him,” a poster using the name Keith Trombley wrote.
One poster shared a 40-year-old memory.
“I met Tommy the first year the Gym opened up he taught me how to work out with the Gym equipment. I made All State in football way Back in 1982 a year after joining His gym. He was such a Awesome Friend he let me take his white Trans Am car to my senior Prom. Still a great memory From a great Man. Rest in piece,” a poster using the names James Jacavone wrote.
Another poster said the gym was not a place where friendships never died.
“As a member of Ocean State Gym from 1986-2002, I have vivid memories of my time in the gym and they all revolve around Tommy, or TK as I used to call him. Even after life changes took me away from the gym, I’d stop in from time to time to say hello and Tommy treated me as if I’d never left and he’d seen me yesterday,” a poster using the name Chris Aleixo wrote.
“He was a salt of the earth kind of guy and the culture he created at Ocean State was unique and of another era. It will never be duplicated and the same can be said of Tommy. RIP my friend,” he concluded.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.