New strengthening equipment, more exercise classes and the opportunity for tweens to now workout with their parents are among the recent changes at Health & Fitness Headquarters’ west side location.
“I have had the idea for some time for this location,” said Randy O’Connell, who is the general manager of Health & Fitness Headquarters.
About three years ago, the fitness center in the Best Western Grand Seasons Hotel merged with the center on State Highway 22.
“For so long, the clubs were like competing clubs with the same equipment,” he said. “I wanted to do something different here (at the Best Western) with the demographics.”
O’Connell, who has been with Health & Fitness since it opened almost 13 years ago, knew that many senior citizens and beginners go to the club’s west side location.
“There’s something about the location, whether it’s the original fitness center in town or the rooted group of members here,” he said in explaining why those segments of the population tend to workout at the west site. He also said senior citizens like the site at the hotel because it includes the pool.
O’Connell also knew that many parents wanted to bring their tweens to the fitness center. “We were always open to ages 14 and up,” he said. “For years, we’ve been dealing with that. Obviously, we want to be the place where they come.”
The more he thought about who uses the center and who could potentially use it, O’Connell realized that what was needed at the site was simple equipment.
“The next step was trying to find equipment that fit into it,” he said.
O’Connell began that search about a year ago and found what he wanted in a new hydraulic line that offers users to adjust the resistance.
That equipment arrived in mid-January and is called “the express workout.” Paralleled with a vision timer, users know when to get on and off the equipment.
O’Connell says Health & Fitness is the first in the country to have this particular line.
“This is a gym where you can get started on your own or with the help of the front desk person,” he said.
O’Connell says that everyone who tries the hydraulic line loves it. There are nine pieces of equipment, with users spending 40 seconds on a piece and resting for 20 seconds in between. “Generally, we recommend twice through, so 20 minutes, and you’re done,” he said.
Future plans call for the center to hold classes that involve the equipment.
The hydraulic line replaced the fitness center’s resistance training equipment and weights. The YMCA in Iron Mountain, Mich., purchased those items.
The next change was the addition of Fitness on Request.
“The big thing here is people wanted more classes and at times that are convenient for them, and in a small town, it is difficult to find instructors,” O’Connell said.
While looking at fitness periodicals one night, O’Connell found Fitness on Request.
The root of it is a touch-screen kiosk that allows people to select a class.
“The classes are filmed in a studio in Minnesota. We started with 40 classes. Every month, they add four to six new ones,” he said.
Classes range from 15-minute ab classes to spinning classes.
Because the west site is a 24-hour gym, the addition of Fitness on Request offers flexibility.
“We still do live classes,” O’Connell said. “But when classes are not being held, people have the option to take a video-prompted class.”
He said it is keeping the exercise room busy throughout the day and that eventually, people will be able to go online from home and reserve particular classes. Others will be able to sign up for the classes, too.
O’Connell said it is a “wow” piece and that the next addition at the center was a functional strength area.
“Probably within the last six years, functional has been dubbed the way to workout,” he said.
The idea with functional exercise is to have it mimic what one does in daily life.
He said they can show members different ways to use the equipment. Trainers can develop specific programs for people.
O’Connell says that making these changes at the west side as a leap of faith.
“Our job is to know what’s out there. It’s been exciting to see our members using everything,” he said.
Finally, allowing tweens to workout at the center is a new idea for Waupaca.
Those who are ages 10 to 13 can now go to the west site. They must be supervised by their parents, he said.
The changes mean that each club now has its own personality.
“It works well. The members have been great in the transition. People can go where they are comfortable,” O’Connell said.