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Gym Saturation? Not quite yet

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POSTED: December 13, 2007 5:00 a.m.

Now that the turkey is finished and most of the leftovers are gone, we can sit back and reflect on just how much food we ate. On our table, there were just as many desserts as there were meal choices - and none of it was particularly healthy. So now that the waistbands on everybody’s pants are fitting a little snugger, and it is bound to get worse come Christmas, what better time to start thinking about all the fitness options available in Richmond Hill.

For a town our size, we seem to have a large number of fitness outlets. There are at least six as far as I can count and recall. In all fairness, many of them cater toward their own particular niche. There’s the upscale spa, the all gym all the time, a place only for women, and the newest seems predominantly focused on personal training. But it doesn’t stop there. The field seems to be doubling up soon. There is rumor of another "all gym all the time" facility coming into town. Currently it seems like it will be the same 24-hour concept within a smaller space.

The fact that there are a large number of options is not lost on the current gym owners. Each prides themselves on the specialty offerings of their individual facilities. They each feel they bring something new and exciting to the residents of our community. After walking into most of them, I would say they have succeeded as their differences are immediately obvious.

Kathy Ackerman of Energy Oasis has created more than a one-stop wellness facility. After she got trainers, a massage therapist, a hairdresser, an aesthetician and a small retail shop under her roof, she set out to allow you to bring her home. She has created a Pilates-Yoga fitness video that is available both at the gym and online. She doesn’t plan to be a one hit wonder and has already started planning another.

While she may be the only local game in town with a video on the shelf, she isn’t the only one with the idea. Derek Frasier of You Need Fitness has similar aspirations. He has put out the casting call already, but I don’t know anything more than that - although I doubt it will have anything at all to do with yoga. With his introduction of "kettle ball" training and his "boot camp" style offerings, the videos will probably be as different as the gyms.

Greg Sucher and company at Non Stop Fitness (formally Crossroads Fitness, formally Richmond Hill Fitness Center) didn’t have any video aspirations as far as I could tell, but they do have bodybuilders - real ones that eat six times a day, get down to negative body fat, wear Speedos, and compete in actual bodybuilder contests. Evidently, those who have competed in the past have done very well. Now that the training season has started, the regulars are gearing up. In addition, new people are showing interest and working with trainers - and why not? The facility is huge with every piece of equipment you can imagine and an extensive exercise class schedule.

Let us not forget the national and franchise options. The YMCA is available in our community. Women looking for the popular Curves gym will find the real deal. While I am not certain of all the details, I heard that there is a Jazzercise offering as well.

As I said, lots of options for a town our size - near saturation some would say. However, I wouldn’t belong to that group just yet. I have yet to see a gym close its doors here. The business model must work as long as the gyms coming in retain some sense of individuality. We will see if that remains to be the case when like designed gyms start opening up.

 

 

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