Those of you who may have slipped a little on your New Year’s resolution to get in shape, lose a few pounds and improve your health by exercising, may need a reminder to get back into the gym or join one in the first place.
Luckily for you, St. Charles Parish has plenty of options when it comes to getting fit.
Anytime Fitness locations have sprung up on each bank of the parish in the past few years.
Michelle Oubre, co-owner of the Destrehan Anytime Fitness and general manager of the Luling location, said her fitness centers have a strong following.
“It is a 24/7 co-ed fitness center,” she said. “We offer a full group fitness studio and we offer 32 group fitness classes a week including six ‘Silver Sneakers’ classes for senior citizens. That’s all included with the membership.”
Beyond the membership costs, the facilities offer personal trainers for an additional charge.
Oubre, a former school teacher, opened the Destrehan location last January with her husband Richard and partners Jennifer and Ricky Perkins.
She said the generally membership increases at the beginning of each year.
“January is usually the biggest months of the year,” she said.
For those who are beginning to slip on their exercise regimen, Oubre said her gym provides motivation to get back to the gym to get fit.
“You always have your turnover. We phone call them, we postcard them and we try to follow-up,” she said. “You shouldn’t have a high turnover. It’s about a magical touch and making people feel like they are part of a family and not just a gym. If you reach out to them, eight out of ten times they come back.”
Oubre said by creating a community atmosphere she hopes gym members feel that their exercise facility is a welcome place.
“The community has embraced the facility and the model,” she said. “We have a great culture and everybody knows everybody’s name.”
The Destrehan location is also currently hosting their own in-house version of “The Biggest Loser.”
“We have 27 people and four teams and a trainer who guides them through,” Oubre said.
In addition, Anytime Fitness hosts special senior programs.
“For our seniors we have potluck birthday celebrations with a guest speaker,” Oubre said. “We do go above and beyond with our seniors. It’s also about the social aspect.”
She said some seniors may even be eligible for free membership.
“There are many seniors in the parish who don’t realize their health insurance company will pay for them to come,” Oubre said.
Snap Fitness also has locations on each bank of the parish.
The East Bank location on Almedia Road in St. Rose has recently come under new ownership after Kim Rodriguez seized an opportunity to go from a gym member to taking over the franchise.
Since she took over the location earlier this month she has already made a few changes and is looking to make more.
“I haven’t even been here two months,” Rodriguez said. “We’ve signed a lot of members since I took over. The current members have noticed the change because the facility is getting the TLC it deserves.”
Rodriguez is looking into expanding the space of the fitness center and adding more personal trainers to her staff.
She said the facility is popular with workers at nearby plants because they are open at all hours of the day.
“People work shift work,” Rodriguez said. “There are a lot of people that come in the middle of the night or early, early morning.”
Because the business is always open, but is not always staffed, they have security measures in place for members.
“There is 24-hour security and cameras in the gym all of the time and everybody knows,” Rodriguez said. “There are emergency buttons here if something happiness in the middle of the night. It’s relatively safe.”
Membership rose at the end of last year and around the time Rodriguez took over as new owner.
“I went into the records for people in December and January. In December I had the most people sign up ever and in January I doubled it,” she said. “I do have a sign up outside saying ‘under new ownership’ and people have heard that the gym has changed for the better.”
In addition, Rodriguez is offering discounted memberships to parish employees, policemen, firemen and active military.
One thing many people may not know is that both Anytime Fitness and Snap Fitness have reciprocal membership programs that allow their members to exercise at other gyms in the franchise.
For those who would rather patronize a local business, the Fitness Club in Luling has been in operation for 17 years and was recently purchased by Ann Sullivan.
The club was originally in Willowdale Country Club, but moved to its current location on Highway 90 after Hurricane Katrina.
The local business has taken on the model of Anytime Fitness and Snap Fitness by allowing 24-hour access to gym members.
Their facility boasts the most variety of any in the parish with a full slate of weight lifting machines, a cardio area, a group exercise room, a spin room full of stationary bikes, a rowing station, tanning beds and a full service smoothie bar.
General manager Adrienne Bourgeois said since Sullivan took over the gym they have been undergoing changes.
“We just got brand new cardio equipment,” she said.
In addition to new machines, they are also undergoing other changes.
“We have locker rooms and showers,” Bourgeois said. “We are staffed during regular business hours and have a pro-shop, which is unique, where you can purchase diet books, tie dye yoga clothes and post-workout snacks.”
She said the Fitness Club normally sees an up-tick in the number of members joining near the beginning of the year and also usually sees new members as Mardi Gras season wraps up.
“We notice a small pickup in January and we also see one after Ash Wednesday because they figure partying is all done and they only have a few months until summer,” Bourgeois said.
However, for the Fitness Club it is their long-term members that have kept them in business so long. She said part of getting people to come back is by offering interactive classes with enthusiastic trainers.
“We have dedicated fitness instructors,” Bourgeois said. “For most of our fitness instructors this is a hobby for them as well as their passion. We have a deep following for our fitness instructors so are classes are typically large throughout the year.”