State - INACTIVE

Turlock gyms adding sites a worthy jog away

TURLOCK -- Gym enthusiasts here will find their options going up when two of the city's three clubs open additional locations.

Brenda Athletic Clubs, which operates the Turlock Fitness & Racquet Club, will open in the former Play It Again Sports on Monte Vista Avenue. In-Shape is planning a second location in the former Circuit City on Countryside Drive.

In addition to bringing more gyms to town, the new clubs will offer a better geographic variety: The current Brenda, In-Shape and Turlock Fitness Club are all within a third of a mile of one another.

Though the economy continues to struggle, health clubs remain in demand, said Michelle Clark, spokeswoman for In-Shape.

"We're seeing more people wanting options for their families," she said. "People maybe aren't traveling as much, so they're looking for things closer to home."

Randy Price, executive director of Brenda Athletic Clubs, said his company started branching out into smaller facilities with a gym in Merced that opened in February.

"This is a new concept for us," he said. Brenda's clubs in Turlock and Modesto offer fitness centers in addition to pools and tennis courts.

Opening smaller gyms allows the company to keep the overhead down and offer memberships as low as $15.99 per month.

"This economy has forced everyone to tighten things up and make sure that customer service is good," he said. "The way we look at it is, everyone could afford $15 to $20 a month. Give up Starbucks once a week and you could pay for a gym membership."

Clark said In-Shape has looked for ways to cater to families.

The new Turlock gym will include a women's-only workout area that looks over the Kids' Club, so moms can keep an eye on their children. An In-Shape going into the former YMCA on McHenry Avenue in Modesto will feature a waterslide park and more activities for young members.

Location for the new Turlock site was a big draw, Clark said. Countryside Drive is just off Highway 99 at Monte Vista Avenue.

Freeway access key

"We bring in a lot of clients from the neighboring towns, so when that location became available, we jumped on it," she said.

Another bonus: the parking that comes with a large shopping center. In-Shape's Geer Road club, a former movie theater, shares a small lot with a Taco Bell.

Sophia Zamora, leaving In-Shape after a workout Friday afternoon, said she would check out the new location but probably wouldn't pay more for access to both clubs.

"I've heard they're going to have more cardio equipment over there, so maybe people will build muscle over here, then go over there to work on cardio," she said.

Zamora said she likes having 24-hour access to the gym on weekdays. The new Turlock location likely won't be open overnight. Clark said no decision has been reached yet, but for the most part In-Shape keeps one gym per city open 24 hours.

Price said he hopes everyone can find something to his or her liking and budget, now that there is a full club and the smaller facility.

"Smaller gyms are having good success in a down economy," he said. "People who belong to gyms already are finding they can save $20, $30 a month."

Representatives from both gyms said that response has been positive, with preview centers getting brisk business.

Brenda is expected to open in September or October, and In-Shape will follow by the end of the year.

"In a tight economy, people need more cost-effective, convenient activities close to home and work," Paul Rothbard, In-Shape's chief executive officer said. "Our new club will help residents stay healthy and active in these stressful times."

Bee staff writer Patty Guerra can be reached at pguerra@modbee.com or 578-2343.

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