By Chuck Slothower
Four Corners Business Journal
FARMINGTON A Farmington nonprofit organization is using a health and wellness grant to open a state-of-the-art gym in downtown Farmington.
Gym Lou's is located at 416 W. Broadway, in Capacity Builders Inc.'s building. The organization will operate the gym. It also runs programs that address issues like teen pregnancy on the Navajo Nation.
Funds generated by the gym will benefit Capacity Builders' other programs, said Ryan Caudillo, manager of Gym Lou's.
Gym Lou's is not meant to compete with for-profit gyms, Caudillo said.
"Obviously, there's a lot of gyms in town and we're not necessarily going to compete with them," he said.
Caudillo hopes to open Gym Lou's in early March. It'll be equipped with aerobic machines including treadmills and elliptical equipment, and weight-training equipment. Caudillo plans to install a tanning bed in a rear room. The gym already installed two stripper poles to capitalize on the popularity of aerobic exercise inspired by adult dancing.
Gym Lou's will be open 24 hours a day, with members given key cards for access.
Caudillo plans to sell a limited number of individual memberships perhaps 50 or 60. He wants to focus on building relationships with personal trainers and bringing in their business.
"Our main focus is to use this as an incubator for personal trainers," he said.
Caudillo said many gyms take a cut of 50 percent or more of trainers' fees. By offering a better deal, Caudillo is hoping to attract personal trainers.
Gym Lou's isn't the only new gym in town. Anytime Fitness opened in mid-January at 4917 E. Main St., behind Outback Steakhouse. The franchise also offers 24-hour access.
The business is owned by Sandy Schumacher, who expanded to Farmington after opening Anytime Fitness in Aztec in May 2011. Members gain access to any of the more than 2,000 Anytime Fitness locations around the world.
Schumacher said she welcomes Gym Lou's opening.
"Frankly, I think that end of town could use something," she said.
West Farmington has gyms that focus on boxing and martial arts, but nothing like a mainstream fitness center. Caudillo said he hopes Gym Lou's downtown location attracts members from nearby San Juan Regional Medical Center.
Schumacher said she's for new gyms if they get more people exercising. "I love the opportunity for more people to have a healthy lifestyle," she said. The gym is a new venture for Capacity Builders. The organization focuses on programs that work to improve conditions on the Navajo reservation. Capacity Builders operates a "Strengthening Communities" grant that works to address the economic downturn, and a rural cooperative development grant.
Funding for Gym Lou's comes from a federally funded health and wellness grant.
Deborah Montgomery, founder of Capacity Builders, said the organization wants to bring in Navajo youths and train them to be trainers so they can spread healthy habits.
"Seeing the health problems and everything, we saw there was an opportunity to help the community that we're in every day," she said. "They have a lot of health issues we all do."
Gym Lou's is in keeping with Capacity Builder's other programs, Montgomery said.
"In all of our grants, we try to benefit the people that live here," she said.