Friday, October 3, 2008

Lawrence Fitness Industry Bucks Trend

“In the fitness industry, everything comes down to one word: Growth. That's the goal of the patrons, after all. They want to grow their muscles, their fitness, their health, and their general well-being. For the gyms, it's all about growing the market - and of course, growing their profits. In Lawrence, the fitness industry is doing just that. Already the second most health-club saturated town in Kansas, Lawrence's gym population is still growing. The agent of that expansion is the Topeka based Maximus Fitness and Wellness. ‘Our Topeka branches have already won awards,’ Acker said. ‘So we think we've got a good product to offer Lawrence. Still, there's always work to be done when opening a new location.’ For other gyms nationwide, that survival hasn't been easy. According to the International Health Racquet and Sportsclub Association, total gym memberships have dropped for the first time in a decade. The group blames the staggering economy on the recess in gym memberships. ‘I'm not surprised that overall gym memberships have dropped,’ English said. ‘Unfortunately, it's one of those things that people think they can do without. The problem arises when they come back to fitness years later in worse shape than when they left.’ Still, despite an apparent national departure from a healthy lifestyle, Lawrence fitness institutions are still managing to find success. ‘We offer 40 different classes to the people of Lawrence,’ said Jo Ellis, City of Lawrence Recreation Supervisor. ‘Some of those classes are even exceeding their normal numbers.’ If indeed there is a trend away from exercising, it's one that KU students aren't yet hip to. Last year, the student recreation and fitness center had an average of 3,200 students enter its threshold each of the 340 days it was open. That number has increased this year. On several days, the attendance even managed to break the 5,000 person mark. ‘It's important to remember that, as it is with any business, the fitness industry can be a bit cyclical,’ said Mary Chappell, Director of KU Recreation Services. ‘It does change. But I can tell you this - it's not going anywhere.’”

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