Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Health Club Chain A Thriving Business

"This Blackhawk resident sees her name in lights nearly every day. She's Kathy Barney, owner of Kathy's Ladies Health Clubs in San Ramon and Pleasanton. If you're traveling near the intersection of Crow Canyon Road and San Ramon Valley Boulevard, you can't miss the colorful sign. Kathy got into the health club business in 2003 when several Butterfly Life franchises in the area became available after the closing of the Linda Evans fitness centers. She changed the name of both franchises to Kathy's in 2008. Her husband, Ray, sold his San Jose business, Speed Merchant, about three years ago, and has been working with her ever since.'Ray's the business mind and I'm more the customer service person,' Kathy said. The clubs each have about 1,300 members with women who come from the San Ramon Valley as well as Walnut Creek, Lafayette, Orinda, Livermore and Tracy. Kathy and Ray are excited about one of the latest fitness dance crazes, Zumba.'It's exercise in disguise,' said Kathy. A fusion of Latin and international music, it's high-energy and fun, she said. Although the two health clubs offer Zumba as one of 40 free-with-membership classes, beginning last year they have occasionally scheduled a Zumba evening that is coed and open to nonmembers (naturally, since it's a ladies health club). 'It's a lot more intense than our regular Zumba classes,' Kathy said. 'We bring in master instructors from Campbell, a disc jockey and bongo players, and the lighting is like a Latin nightclub in a way.'"


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