Fitness chains edging out local business

Tyler
Tyler Clarke
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Prince Albert’s fitness market was already tight, and then Good Life Fitness opened its doors at the South Hill Mall. 

Bravo for Women Fitness owner and instructor Heather Bravo is seen in the centre’s weight room. 

Prince Albert’s fitness market was already tight, and then Good Life Fitness opened its doors at the South Hill Mall.

“Because of membership being down so much I had to let my staff member go in December,” Bravo for Women Fitness owner Heather Bravo said this week.

“A year ago August, the membership basically doubled. Then comes this sign up (and) they’re just nowhere to be found.”

Prince Albert’s California Fitness has also recently become a Fitness For $10, offering monthly fees as low as $10 per month, with a few added fees.

“How can you compete with that?” Bravo asked. “They’ve got the money. They have advertising. I just can’t do it, I can’t do anything extra.”

As a 100 per cent locally owned and operated business, Bravo Fitness does have the ability to compete against chain stores in another way, she added

“We have a real niche here -- it’s personal,” she said. 

“I’m the face of this business, I know people. I feel for them, I know their good times and their bad times. I’ve had some ladies who have been with me for 11 ½ years, since I hoped my doors. There’s a heart behind this business.

“You don’t feel you’re walking into this big cold space of loud thumping music.”

The biggest problem is with people’s lack of commitment, which results in cheques coming up non-sufficient funds and people stopping payments altogether.

A year ago August, the membership basically doubled. Then comes this sign up (and) they’re just nowhere to be found. Heather Bravo

With some members having been with her during all 11 ½ years of existence, Bravo suspects that the personal and encouraging touch of locally owned and operated centres keep people coming back more than at chains.

Prince Albert’s 4 Horsemen Fitness Centre has ceased all advertising for the month of January in order to avoid those making new year’s resolutions.

“We’ve got goals and aspirations -- we’re not fly by nighters,” owner Danielle Carter said of membership, noting that many people who sign up in January quit shortly thereafter.

“We’ve had an amazing year for 2012, and we’re not concerned about Good Life Fitness at all.”

The difference between them and chain stores is that they’re not there to collect people’s money -- “This is a lifestyle,” she said.

While the 4 Horsemen Fitness Centre is slated for expansion this year, with additional equipment being purchased, Bravo is looking at a few different options.

If things don’t pick up soon, she may make it a private gym, open to members only. That, or she might become co-oed.

“If I am not here next year at this time, it is not for a lack of trying over the past 11 years.”

Organizations: Prince Albert, Horsemen Fitness Centre

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