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Letters 02-01-2016

Real Contamination In 1968, Chicago (its Mayor Richard Daley in particular) felt menaced by anti-war protesters (Abbie Hoffman in particular) threatening to put the hallucinogenic LSD into Chicago’s water supply. In reaction to the 9/11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, D.C., we reacted vigorously to a perceived threat of chemical or biological terrorist attacks on our water supply. A religious cult contaminating a city water tank with salmonella in Oregon, sickening about 700, was the only such attack in our country until now. The water supply of Flint, Mich., was attacked and contaminated, not by terrorists or protesters, but by our own government...

Why The Muslim Debate? I was passing through your fine town last week and picked up a couple copies of Northern Express. There I noted a discourse concerning the Muslim situation in Dearborn. It is interesting to note that I see similar conversations in newspapers and blogs throughout the country and, in fact, throughout the world...

Kachadurian Has It All Wrong Thank you for continuing to publish Thomas Kachadurian’s bigoted editorials. If not for this publication, I wouldn’t know that such people lived in my sweet northern Michigan...

Over The Line I felt Sarah Palin crossed the line when she indicated our president did not care about those like her son who came home wounded. No one challenges her on these remarks; to me it is shameful...

Flints’ Man-made Disaster Governor Snyder’s Financial Emergency Manager Law has created a State of Emergency in Flint. In 2011, newly elected Governor Snyder signed Public Act 4, giving him the freedom to take over any city government his office found financially bankrupt, with power to override any decision of elected city officials. This law showed his primary motive — money before people. In November 2012, the People of Michigan voted down his Financial Emergency Manager Law, as they resented losing control of their cities. In December 2012, he showed his contempt for the people’s vote and signed a revised version, one that did not give power back to the people...

Defending the AR15 And Gun Rights I was amazed to read David Downer’s recent letter. He admits he is a gun owner but he expresses his ignorance of what an “assault rifle” really is, and thereby spreads the antigun position that an AR15 is an assault rifle...

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Random Thoughts: Death of a gym

Robert Downes - October 12th, 2009
Random Thoughts
Robert Downes 10/12/09
Death of a Gym

When a gym fails, it can be like the death of an old friend to its members. Such is the case at the Fitness Center, which closed its doors last week after 23 years on 8th Street in Traverse City.
Gyms have grown in importance over the past generation. They’re a place to socialize and unwind; a place to break up the black ice of stress in your head and get motivated to take on the challenges of the next day. Gyms are about much more than getting in shape -- they’re about getting your life together and staying sane in what sometimes seems to be a crazy world.
That was literally true for some members of the Fitness Center, who were rehab patients with severe physical, mental and emotional challenges. Phil, for instance, suffers from cerebral palsy. Charles is another member who came to the gym for two to three hours every day since 1991 in an attempt to ease a severe obsessive-compulsive disorder. Russell worked out there to cope with mental challenges. Other members struggled with anorexia, severe spinal problems, and crippling injuries. The Fitness Center gave them hope and a home.
But the rug was pulled out from under its staff and loyal members with a curt notice that the Fitness Center was closing within a week -- a scenario that bewildered and upset its 300-some members.
“In fact, Phil started crying when he heard the gym was closing because he thought he’d done something wrong,” said personal trainer Rhonda Brandt, who’s been with the gym for the past 10 years.
I’ve been a member of the Fitness Center myself for most of the years since 1986 and know that thousands of locals have passed through its doors. We’ve logged a million miles on its Stairmasters and exercycles. We’ve lifted an Everest of metal weights through the years. And many members made friends, found lovers, nailed business deals and argued the issues of the day there. Mostly, we got the spring back in our steps to face another day.
Why did such a well-loved gym fail? Owned by the McKinley Group of Ann Arbor, apparently, the Fitness Center lost some of its rehab and physical therapy business, coupled with a drop in insurance coverage for the patients who used its facility. Then too, Rhonda notes that increased competition from other gyms around town forced the Fitness Center to drop the price of its membership to cutthroat rates, and the gym occupies an old building that requires a lot of maintenance, with a big heating bill.
The staff was told by management that the business model for the Fitness Center “no longer works,” and although members rallied with the hope of leasing the building as a co-op gym, the owners weren’t interested. End of story.
Well, not quite. Rhonda Brandt has moved on to the Fitness Factor (the former Sweat Shop in TC), taking her clients with her for classes in spinning, fitness “boot camp,” and cardio-strength training.
“I see quite a few familiar faces there,” she says. “I’ve been blessed that a lot of my clientele has followed me. Some people are still shopping for other gyms and some are still hoping that someone will come out of the woodwork and buy the Fitness Center.”
But that prospect doesn’t seem likely. So what about Phil, Charles, Russell and the many other mentally and physically challenged people who found a home at 8th and Boardman Ave.?
They’ve got nowhere to go.

 
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