SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Business

January 5, 2011

It's the busiest time of year for gyms

Getting in shape is often high on people's lists of New Year's resolutions, and it's therefore a time of year when health clubs expect to welcome new members.

Phyllis Madanian, owner of the Peabody Athletic Club at 119 Rear Foster St., is leading her business into its second year. Running a health club is the fulfillment of one of Madanian's dreams, and she recently spoke to The Salem News about the business of helping other people realize their dreams of shedding unwanted pounds.

Is New Year's a busy time for health clubs?

It's generally the most membership-driven time of the year. Basically everyone makes their New Year's resolution — health is one of the biggest New Year's resolutions out there, health improvement.

How did you get interested in fitness?

It's been my dream for 30 years. I loved sports, I was very athletic as a kid. I always wanted to do something involved with fitness, and it was something I thought I could do no matter where I went.

Is this your first job at a health club?

This is different for me because I didn't grow up in this, I grew up in retail. I had not worked at a health club before. I came from owning a pharmacy that belonged to my parents. It was in Harvard Square, and at 22 I became the owner. I had to keep it going.

You have lots of competitors — how do you differentiate yourself from them?

It is competitive; however, we see ourselves as extremely different. We're a midsized gym, not small, not huge. We have 6,000 square feet for a very personal gym. We encourage a family atmosphere, a camaraderie. Smaller places don't have the range of equipment we have.

Except for a pool, we have everything that a full gym would have. ... We have programs that people can join, but everybody gets attention.

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