Fit and Trim

"Jeremy Saunders has started a new business in Oak Harbor designed to make people sweat.He recently expanded his popular Oak Harbor Martial Arts business on Pioneer Way into a full-fledged fitness club, complete with over $80,000 in new work-out equipment.The newly-named Oak Harbor Fitness Center will compete with the Excalibur Gym on Midway Boulevard and the Navy gym on base for the iron-pumping/fitness business. Both the Fitness Center and the Excalibur Gym have a wide variety of cardiovascular, free weights and resistance training machines. The Fitness Center has 12 new Nautical machines, 11 free weight stations and four cardiovascular machines, including tread mills and “eliptical” stepping machines designed to be kind on joints.In addition, the center offers aerobic kick-boxing classes, and of course, martial arts instruction.Excalibur Gym has 14 of the resistance training machines, 13 stations for free weights, 13 cardiovascular machines and tanning booths, according to owner Paul Reardon.The Fitness Center costs $55 a month. Excalibur costs $38 a month with a $90 start-up membership fee. The Navy gym, of course, is free to those who have dedicated their lives to protecting this country. While Saunders said he’s still in the process of expanding the gym, the thing that he says distinguishes the Fitness Center from other work-out places on the island is the service.After people sign up with the center, Saunders said one of the trainers will help them create an individual workout plan and then teach them to use each machine.In addition, he said the center can provide very complete diet programs to those who are looking to shed a few pounds of flab. The diet plan even have menus, shopping lists and recipes.Saunders said there will always be one or two trainers on duty to help people. Experts from Nautilus trained his staff on the equipment and will do on-going training.“We’ll be there to make sure people are getting something out of it and doing it right,” he said.He also has big plans for the future. He said he’s going to have a child care area with toys and adult supervision. He wants to add showers, TVs, a steam room and even a whirlpool.------------------Bodywise offers other choicesFor those who want to get in shape but don’t like the looks of the imposing muscle machines, the Bodywise studio on Midway offers an alternative.Owner Valerie Stafford, a physical education teacher at Skagit Valley College, started the business in 1990 as a place, she says, “where people could get to know each other, motivate each other, and work out without being intimidated by fancy equipment, glitzy environment or a huge time and money commitment.”According to Stafford, it’s one of the few remaining aerobics studios around. The four Bodywise instructors specialize in “step aerobic” classes, which she said is something most everyone, at any fitness level, can master, plus it's a very effective workout. The classes, like the studio itself, are always low-key, informal and designed to be fun and stress-free. This month, for example, they’re teaching “Classic Cardio,” which is exercise set to music.But that’s not to say the classes aren’t intense and physically taxing. There’s a lot of sweating going on at Bodywise. Stafford said the newest class is a group weight training class set to music called PUMP, which is short for people using muscle power. The popular class involves five to 15 pound dumbbells.“My philosophy has been to make fitness enjoyable, convenient, affordable and efficient,” she said. “I truly think exercise is magic. At my advanced age — hey, I'm only 51 — I appreciate what exercise can do for your morale, quality of life and disease prevention, and I keep Bodywise running because I like sharing that.” "

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