North Minneapolis is no longer a “Fitness Desert.”
Anytime Fitness, the fastest-growing fitness club chain in the world, opened on West Broadway and Penn Avenue last month, becoming the first gym for adults the community has seen in many years.
Dr. Tara Watson is the owner of Anytime Fitness North Minneapolis, as well as Watson Chiropractic and Exceptional Home Health next door, which she has operated on the Northside for 10 years. Watson specifically chose to open a club with Anytime Fitness, a Minnesota-based company, because, “it is the best fit and value for the community, and this community deserves the best.” When members join the West Broadway Anytime Fitness, they also gain access to 2,200 other clubs on five continents.
Watson’s Anytime Fitness club is customized to accommodate first time gym-goers along with Northsiders excited to finally workout close to home. The West Broadway Coalition recently sat down with Watson to learn more about her new business.
Shaina Brassard: Tell us about the Anytime Fitness model and what members can expect in terms of safety.
Tara Watson: The Anytime Fitness model is an adult-only gym that is open 24 hours. There is Anytime Fitness staff in the club between 8:00am – 10:00pm. All the clubs have camera surveillance at all times. Members have key cards that give them access and also tracks them. So once a member swipes in, we know you’re there and Anytime Fitness Corporate knows you’re there, and there’s also a tailgate feature, so we know if someone follows you in without swiping their own card. We also have wireless panic buttons, so we encourage people that might be working out alone late at night, just take one of those and walk around with it, and if you press the panic button the police are dispatched immediately. We know this for a fact because we’ve tested it.
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SB: What is the membership structure?
TW: We’re extending our pre-sale pricing until the end of 2013, which is a $38 a month one-year membership. We offer three-month pay-n-full memberships for people that don’t want to commit to a year, or (who) would like to give that as a gift. Day passes also make great gifts. We do have a referral program that people can benefit from, and we do have family add on discount.
SB: Aren’t there ways for members’ health insurances or employers to help pay for membership fees?
TW: We participate in something called Healthy Contributions, which means different health insurance providers will partially reimburse your Anytime Fitness club memberships based on monthly usage. Participating plans include Blue Cross Blue Shield, HealthPartners, MEDICA, Medical Assistance, Medicare, Silver Sneakers and Silver and Fit, and they will reimburse between 10 to 100 percent of member fees if the member visits the club a certain number of times, often between 10 and 12 times per month.
There are also corporate wellness incentive packages. A lot of corporations are already affiliated with Anytime Fitness, so their employees get incentives to exercise at our club. We have a list of those companies, or people can talk to their human resource department. For Minneapolis police officers, for example, membership is completely free, fully reimbursed by their employer. I know this because a lot of them work out at our club, including our beat cops.
SB: How does your staff help new gym-goers feel comfortable in what may be a new environment?
TW: We know that a lot of people that may come to us don’t know what to do; they have no clue. So we offer a health assessment that comes free of charge with their membership sign-up. They will get contacted and scheduled with the trainer to come and put together a workout for them. We’re also offering discounted personal training sessions just to get people started, because for some people, that overview isn’t enough; they need a little more help because they’ve never worked out before.
SB: Do you have fitness classes?
TW: Right now the members we have do love the Fitness On Request. You can go into the classroom alone or with others and choose a class, say Zumba, to be played on our big screen, and there is no upcharge for that. Once we get enough members, we can start offering live classes.