This is not your ordinary gym.

Sure, it has free weights, machines, benches and racks. And, of course, cardio equipment like stair climbers and ellipticals.

But it has no mirrors, no contracts, no membership fees -- not even a smoothie bar.

"That's not us," said powerlifter Niko Hulslander.

That's because the Lord's Gym, a nonprofit community fitness center that opened in Shrewsbury Township last week, hopes to build bodies and relationships through a welcoming atmosphere and Christian-based ministry, he said.

The sign-up fee is simply a suggested donation, and those who don't have the means to give don't have to.

"I don't care that it's a dollar," Hulslander said.

More than 220 people signed up in the gym's first week.

'God's plan': When the rent doubled on Hulslander's former space in Brogue, the deadlifting pro needed to find a new spot for his equipment.

Less than a year later, he found a home at the York Regional Dream Center, an effort of Shrewsbury's Grace Fellowship Church and about a dozen other parishes.

"It was God's plan," he said.

The center stands at 74 E. Forrest Ave., on the hill where the old Kmart shopping plaza used to be. The gym is the hill's first fully operating installment in a series of ministries, such as a food distribution center, kitchen, clothing donation center and health center.

But each one, no matter how it helps people, has the same underlying mission, Hulslander said.

"We're here to build relationships, here to plant seeds," he said.

The center, inspired by the Los Angeles Dream Center and about 100 like it across the globe, aims to help meet the basic needs of the community, said Grace Fellowship lead pastor Jeff Smith.

"The Dream Center's really more of a movement than it is a place," he said.

Hill of dreams: As other service projects await their spot on the hill, some have temporary homes in other places of worship.

Trinity United Methodist Church in New Freedom has developed space for the clothing donation center, effectively making it "Goodwill at no cost," said Grace Fellowship associate pastor Mark Fair.

And food distribution is held in Hopewell Township at Grace United Methodist Church through the Gifts of Grace ministry, which feeds 70 to 90 people three times a month, said pastor Jeff Slemp.

"It's all about building that relationship with them," he said. "We use food as a tool to show them the love of Jesus Christ."

The collaborative nature of the Dream Center breaks down walls among parishes as volunteers put aside doctrine and focus on coming together, Fair said.

"And that's what we're seeing happen more and more in York County," he said.

Although the center's efforts continue off-site, it's uncertain when the dream on the hill will be complete: It could be a couple of months; it could be a couple of years, Smith said.

But with the Lord's Gym pumping away, it appears that the effort is starting to feel the burn.

"We think that God's kind of starting a fire," he said.

-- Reach Mollie Durkin at