By Rachel Stein
Nestled snugly in the heart of Toco Hills is a storefront enterprise that has served the community since 1992. Catering to women ages 17 to 90, Powerlady Fitness is a place where members feel comfortable and motivated to reach their health and fitness goals.
“If you could encapsulate PLF in one word,” I asked several regular attendees, “what comes to mind?” The responses included “empowering,” “exhilarating,” “fun” and “comfortable.”
Each word was punctuated with a smile.
Powerlady Fitness is a blessing for the Jewish community, enabling Orthodox women to exercise freely within the boundaries of requisite modesty. Yet the varied clientele, representing all segments, religions and cultures of the community, shows the desire of many women to have a private, comfortable space to work out. The abundance and variety of classes and friendly atmosphere make Powerlady Fitness more than just a gym.
Becky Brown, the owner and manager of this enterprise, shared an inside glimpse at what makes her gym a place where people want to keep coming back.
AJT: How did you start?
Brown: Since college, I have always wanted to own a gym that was female-focused. I started working at Ladies Workout Express in 1996 as a part-time job to supplement my full-time job. I loved it so much that I stayed even after I was making enough in my full-time job to make ends meet. After a few months of working at the front desk, I got certified to teach and train and took over the club in 2003.
AJT: Why a ladies gym?
Brown: I like the idea of a female-focused space because of the unspoken support, community feel and programs specific to female needs.
AJT: Do certain rewarding moments stand out?
Brown: If someone comes in consistently and does the work, positive changes will occur over time. It may not show up on the scale since muscle weighs more than fat, but it will show up in inches. So don’t get discouraged. Exercise and strength training will definitely help you lose fatty tissue and gain muscle weight. Partnering with women as they achieve their goals and feel better about themselves is very gratifying.
There was one lady I worked with twice a week. Over a few weeks I noticed her strength and confidence growing. We measured after two months. Upon seeing the results, her eyes filled.
“Because I’m taking care of myself,” she shared, “it is rippling into my family life. The dynamics between my husband and I and my children have changed for the better.”
She was happy about the inches but felt greater joy from the improvements in her family life.
Seeing the amount of members who have been with us for years is very satisfying. In a lot of gyms people come and go, but we have members who have been with us for up to a decade, if not longer. Many people who move away from our area have shared that the gym is one of the things they will miss the most.
We care that members come to the gym and want them to get the most out of their time here.
AJT: What is your vision for 2016?
Brown: The focus for 2016 is to grow our group training program, add in more education for the members, and to provide programs that appeal to different groups, like moms, seniors and anyone in between. Regarding education, I’d like to provide training in the following areas: nutrition, fitness according to individual levels, beginners programs and transitioning into more advanced workouts. I look forward to an awesome year.
Several longtime members shared their feelings about Powerlady:
- Renee — “Having an all-ladies gym five minutes away is an incredible gift in my life. The atmosphere and camaraderie is like a magnet, drawing me in almost every day. Sometimes I enter those doors feeling burdened or stressed, but I always leave in a better frame of mind.”
- Karen — “You forge a personal relationship with the owner, the instructors and all the ladies you work out with on a regular basis. There’s a close-knit flavor that makes PLF a pleasurable experience.”
- Sarah — “There is a mutual respect between members. Barriers of culture and class are nonexistent, and everyone just gets along.”
- Rachel — “PLF offers regular challenges just to up the ante and increase the fun of coming. Some have focused on healthy habits, taking particular classes or increasing your workout. Names of participants are entered in a raffle to win prizes, and it adds a little perk to the routine.”
- Naomi — “It’s a self-esteem booster. When I first joined, there were so many things I couldn’t do. As my physical strength and coordination increases, I feel more confidence in other areas of my life, as well.”