Letters 11-23-2015

Cheering From Petoskey While red-eyed rats boil fanatically up from the ancient sewers of Paris to feast on pools of French blood, at the G20 meeting the farcical pied piper of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue thrusts a bony finger at the president of the Russian Federation and yells: “liberté, égalité, fraternité, Clinton, Kerry--Obamaism!”

The Other Mothers And Fathers Regarding the very nice recent article on “The First Lady of Yoga,” I have taken many classes with Sandy Carden, and I consider her to be a great teacher. However, I feel the article is remiss to not even give acknowledgement to other very important yoga influences in northern Michigan...

Drop The Blue Angels The last time I went to the National Cherry Festival, I picked the wrong day. The Blue Angels were forcing everyone to duck and cover from the earsplitting cacophony overhead...

Real Advice For The Sick In the Nov. 16 article “Flu Fighters,” author Kristi Kates fails to mention the most basic tool in our arsenal during Influenza season... the flu vaccine! I understand you might be afraid of being the victim of Jenny McCarthyism, but the science is there...

Keeping Traverse City in the Dark Our environment is our greatest asset. It sustains our lives; it drives our economy. We ignore it at our peril. Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council (NMEAC) has submitted letters of concern to both the city commission and planning commission regarding the proposed 9-story buildings on Pine Street. We have requested an independent environmental assessment with clear answers before a land use permit is granted...

All About Them Another cartoon by Jen Sorensen that brings out the truth! Most of her cartoons are too slanted in a Socialist manner, but when she gets it correct, she hits the nail on the target! “Arizona is the first state to put a 12-month lifetime limit on welfare benefits.” That quote is in the opening panel... 

Unfair To County Employees It appears that the commissioners of Grand Traverse County will seek to remedy a shortfall in the 2016 budget by instituting cuts in expenditures, the most notable the reduction of contributions to various insurance benefits in place for county employees. As one example, the county’s contributions to health insurance premiums will decrease from ten to six percent in 2016. What this means, of course, is that if a county employee wishes to maintain coverage at the current level next year, the employee will have to come up with the difference...

Up, Not Out I would like to congratulate the Traverse City Planning Commission on their decision to approve the River West development. Traverse City will either grow up or grow out. For countless reasons, up is better than out. Or do we enjoy such things as traffic congestion and replacing wooded hillsides with hideous spectacles like the one behind Tom’s West Bay. At least that one is on the edge of town as opposed to in the formerly beautiful rolling meadows of Acme Township...

Lessons In Winning War I am saddened to hear the response of so many of legislators tasked with keeping our country safe. I listen and wonder if they know what “winning” this kind of conflict requires or even means? Did we win in Korea? Did we win in Vietnam? Are we winning in Afghanistan? How is Israel winning against the Palestinians? Will they “take out” Hezbollah...

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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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