24-7 Fitness

by Lisa Hanchey

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

It's time to work out on your terms. By Lisa Hanchey

When it comes to regular exercise, some people want to get down to the basics - no pools, tennis courts or group classes, just cardio equipment and weights. For others, huge health clubs with a myriad of activities can be overwhelming and intimidating. With Lafayette's newest fitness options, couch potatoes have no more excuses for avoiding exercise.
Wednesday, November 3, 2010

It's time to work out on your terms. By Lisa Hanchey

When it comes to regular exercise, some people want to get down to the basics - no pools, tennis courts or group classes, just cardio equipment and weights. For others, huge health clubs with a myriad of activities can be overwhelming and intimidating. With Lafayette's newest fitness options, couch potatoes have no more excuses for avoiding exercise.

AnyTime Fitness' Jeff Minor, a retired state trooper, hopes to expand his
Kaliste Saloom Road health club, located in the Grand Pointe Village
shopping center, by adding 1,500 square feet of workout space and possibly
a private training area.

Taking Acadiana by storm is Anytime Fitness, a Minnesota-based franchise offering access to a full-service gym 24/7. A simple swipe of a key fob gives members entry to the club anytime of the day or night in a safe, secure environment. Since starting in 2002, Anytime has grown to about 1,300 clubs worldwide, with another 1,500 coming soon. The Acadiana area now boasts 14 full-service facilities, with Lafayette locations on Johnston Street, Moss Street and Kaliste Saloom Road, and gyms in Scott, Broussard, Youngsville, Maurice, Breaux Bridge, Carencro, Church Point, New Iberia, Crowley and Abbeville.

Last year, former state trooper Jeff Minor opened a location on Kaliste Saloom in the Grand Pointe Village shopping center. For six years, he worked out at Red's, anxiously waiting for the club to open up at 3:45 a.m. for his daily workout before reporting for duty at 6 a.m. "I wanted to workout at 3:15 or 3:30," he recalls. "So, we'd sit there and wait for Red [Lerille] to open the gym, and we'd squeeze our workout in and be done for 5:30."
After retiring, Minor started working out at Anytime Fitness on Johnston Street at his preferred time of 3:15 a.m. "I loved the model," he says. "It was a nice gym, and had everything I needed."

When an opportunity in the Anytime Fitness franchise became available, Minor jumped on it. He and his business partner, Kim Hebert, a physical therapist, opened a location in south Lafayette Parish. "We kind of captured a lot of members who worked out at other places, or were not working out at all," he says. "Anytime Fitness gives people what they are looking for in order to have a good workout, and we put it close to them. If it's not convenient, people typically are not going to work out."

The 4,700-square-foot location offers state-of-the art Precor strength machines and weights, cardiovascular equipment with individual television monitors, a tanning bed, showers with towel service and a vending machine. Minor and Hebert clean the gym themselves. Trainer Laura Comeaux provides fitness consultations, assessments and personal training.

Minor tried to create a non-intimidating environment for members, particularly those who had never been in a health club before. His daughter convinced him to leave the wall between the cardio space and the strength equipment. "Women come in and love that," he says.
Members of Anytime Fitness also have access to Anytime Health, an online "personal trainer." Hundreds of videos are available to show participants how to perform certain exercises and organize workouts.
Before opening his own gym, Minor had no business experience. He followed the model provided by Anytime Fitness, which guided him through every phase and provided him with a coach in Minnesota for feedback. "Customer service has been somewhat of an issue [for me], because in law enforcement, you're typically always right - you enforce the law, and there's no negotiating," Minor says. "With this, you have a paying member. So, the customer is usually right. And that's tough. You have to enforce rules, but you have to do it in a very diplomatic and compassionate way."

The philosophy is working. Since opening last November, Anytime Fitness's south side gym has grown to more than 800 members. Already, the partners are planning to acquire an additional 1,500 square feet for workout space and a possible private training area. Part of this space will be dedicated to an outpatient physical therapy clinic run by Hebert. Currently, they are polling members about adding group classes.

Also gaining in popularity across Acadiana is Snap Fitness. This is also a Minnesota-based franchise, but is not affiliated with Anytime Fitness.  Snap Fitness features 24/7 gym access with cardio and strength-training equipment, but members pay month-to-month rather than signing contracts.

Currently, Snap has three locations in Lafayette and others in Broussard, Youngsville and Abbeville.
Brand new to Lafayette is a locally-owned round-the-clock health club, 24/7 Fit. Dana and Faris Broussard opened the facility two months ago at 1515 Ambassador Caffery Parkway. This club offers 24-hour access to strength training and cardiovascular equipment, with the extra benefits of personal training, tanning and boot camp. With all memberships, patrons receive three free personal training sessions and one free massage therapy session.

Another newcomer is American Bodyworks, locally owned and operated by Brody Colvin of the Philadelphia Phillies. Located at 3814 Ambassador Caffery Parkway across from Charley G's, this 24/7 facility offers state-of-the-art Matrix cardio and strength equipment featuring individual LCD TVs and IPod Jacks, as well as Hammer strength equipment. Valpak coupons are now available for "no contract or $19.95."


CrossFit owners Wesley Sun Chee Fore, left, and Jayci Cormier work with Joe Spell
on their core strength and conditioning program, which uses minimal equipment like
weights, gymnastic rings and kettlebells.

Sweeping the nation and the world is CrossFit, a core strength and conditioning program using minimal equipment including weights, gymnastic rings and kettlebells. Each day, members login to the website to follow the Workout of the Day. Participants from beginners to advanced use the same routines, scaled by load and intensity. Accompanying the workout is a dietary prescription based on "The Zone" diet, heavy on garden vegetables, lean meats, nuts and seeds, light on starch and devoid of sugar.

The CrossFit movement started in 2003, quickly spreading across the U.S. and internationally to Europe, Australia and Asia. In December, personal trainer Wesley Sun Chee Fore and his former client, Jayci Cormier, launched Lafayette's only CrossFit gym at the corner of Ambassador Caffery and Kaliste Saloom. "There were no cross gyms in Lafayette, and we wanted to do CrossFit," he says. "CrossFit is more of a name brand - you can affiliate with CrossFit, but you get to run the gym however you want to."

Co-owners Fore and Cormier designed their gym to allow participants to do as many functional movements as possible. The high-ceilinged space is wide-open, with cushioned floors, Olympic weights and gymnastic rings. Outside is a 5-k track along Farrell Road for running.
Fore describes the program as "high intensity functional training." The high intensity comes from "timing the workouts and seeing how fast we can do them," he explains. The functional movements are "natural movements that you find in everyday life. We don't do movements that would isolate single muscles; we are always trying to do movements that are multi-joint manipulations, so that way, we are constantly moving a lot of weight a long distance." These high variation workouts can be heavy one day and high speed the next. "We mix and match to confuse the muscles so you don't plateau," Fore explains.

Why choose CrossFit? "You are going to get a lot more one-on-one time with a trainer here," Fore explains. "All we have here are the classes and one-on-one training." Locally, CrossFit has quite a following, with members ranging from elite athletes to senior citizens with heart disease.
On the day I met with Fore and Cormier, a class was just starting. Fore relayed the WOD, an all-barbell routine, then cranked up the pulsating music. During the exercise, the participants, ranging from a petite woman using a 36-pound-bar to bowed-up men lifting 95-pound weights, performed as many thrusters and hang power cleans as they could within 20 minutes. The total workout lasted about an hour.

Cormier is CrossFit's best advertisement. When she started the program two years ago, she "couldn't do a pull-up or cartwheel," she recalls. Within four months, she dropped four dress sizes and was able to do pull-ups. "When I started doing the three days on, with one day of rest in-between and the Zone diet, results were almost immediate," she says.

Since starting in Lafayette last year, CrossFit has quickly caught on. Classes are filling up so fast that online sign-up is now mandatory. The staff has grown to five additional trainers and a running coach. In the next couple of months, USA Olympic Weightlifting Team coach Gayle Hatch will be teaching weekly classes at the gym. For the future, CrossFit plans to offer youth classes.

The best thing about CrossFit, Cormier says, is that "it is infinitely scalable. Anyone can do this. There are amputees that do CrossFit, even people in wheelchairs. You can modify everything in here."