New gyms cater to ‘everybody else’ in Chandler, Gilbert, Mesa, Tempe - East Valley Tribune: Business

New gyms cater to ‘everybody else’ in Chandler, Gilbert, Mesa, Tempe

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Posted: Friday, August 3, 2012 6:31 am | Updated: 11:57 pm, Sat Aug 4, 2012.

A new gym is coming to the East Valley, promising a clean, streamlined fitness experience at a low price.

“Ten dollars is a great price,” said Marilyn Touma, a Chandler resident who goes to the Youfit Health Club in Chandler.

“There’s another gym closer to my house,” she said. But the low price and the availability of equipment in the mornings are worth the longer drive, she said.

Currently, four locations, including a Chandler location at 4991 S. Alma School Road, are open. However, in the next couple of weeks the Gilbert location at 706 N. McQueen Road will open. Another four to five fitness centers are planned to open by the end of the year, including one in Tempe and in Mesa.

The clubs are able to keep down costs by cutting out extras for most people who go to the gym just for fitness, said owner Rick Berks, owner and founder of Youfit.

“I was a gym rat before it was popular,” said Berks, who first opened a Gold’s Gym in 1991 and later opened the first Planet Fitness before selling the business. Now, he’s in for a different experience. “The whole idea was to build a club that’s not geared toward the athlete or bodybuilder.”

Instead, the gyms are designed and marketed for normal people who go to the gym for fitness, Berks said.

And while the gym has all of the typical machines of any gym, it doesn’t have all of the typical extras. There isn’t a fancy juice bar or a pool.

“We don’t do group exercise or child care,” Berks said. “That’s not what they’re looking for in a fitness center. Those are amenities that most people pay for, but never end up using. A lot of people only stick their big toe in a pool the whole time they belong to a gym.”

Instead of attracting serious athletes, Berks believes that his gyms attract an eclectic mix of “everybody else.”

For Berks, it means upping the non-intimidating factor, he said.

“The average person wants to feel comfortable and feel like they’ll fit in,” he said.

That means that there aren’t any pushy sales people, Berks said. All contracts are month-to-month at either around $10 or $20.

For Touma, that’s exactly what she has experienced since joining the gym in April.

“There are a lot of machines where you don’t have to wait, even in the mornings,” Touma said.

Touma made going to the gym her daily habit after her children grew up. The retired mom of three now spends an hour and a half six days a week at the gym.

“I used to do a lot of walking,” she said. “I had three kids and I took them to the park. Now I have the chance to do work on myself.”

Contact writer: (480) 898-5645 or sspring@evtrib.com

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