Fitness Center vacating older facility after 36 years

CHAMPAIGN — The Fitness Center will vacate its longtime home on Galen Drive in Champaign and consolidate at its recently acquired facility on Round Barn Road, its general manager said Thursday.

Rich Ruthenberg said the facility at 1914 Round Barn Road, C, will be enlarged and remodeled over the next few weeks, and the move from 2508 Galen Drive will likely come in mid-March.

It's a momentous move for The Fitness Center, which has been at the Galen Drive location for 36 years.

The age of the facility was one factor in the move, Ruthenberg said, and increasing competition was another.

Ruthenberg cited the addition of Planet Fitness and Charter Fitness and the opening of the new YMCA as part of the changing dynamics in the market.

The expanded location at Round Barn — known as The Fitness Center Body Shop — will give The Fitness Center about 40 percent more space than it has on Galen Drive, he said.

Plus, everything will be on one level, unlike the Galen Drive location, which has stairs, he said.

The Round Barn location will get a new glass-walled lobby, a supervised playroom and upgraded locker rooms. It will also get more fitness equipment, some of it from Galen Drive, Ruthenberg said.

Other equipment from Galen Drive is destined for The Fitness Center's Tuscola and Monticello locations, and excess equipment will likely be sold off, Ruthenberg said.

With the move, dues will be lower than what The Fitness Center members have been paying, Ruthenberg said.

The old price, he said, was generally $59 a month, with $30 for the first additional family member and $10 for each additional member.

Under the new price structure, many people will be paying $39 a month, and it will be less expensive to add family members.

Ruthenberg said he believes The Fitness Center will keep "just about every member" from Galen Drive, except a handful who live nearby. Altogether, the Fitness Center has more than 2,000 members, he said.

The Galen Drive structure was built to accommodate racquetball courts and is divided into 800-square-foot sections. That limited how the building could be used, Ruthenberg said.

The Round Barn facility won't accommodate racquetball, but Ruthenberg said that sport has "gone the way of the hula hoop" with the youngest racquetball players at The Fitness Center in their 50s.

The Fitness Center acquired the location on Round Barn Road — formerly a Gold's Gym location — last spring and adopted The Fitness Center Body Shop name for that place.

Now that facility will expand into adjacent space formerly occupied by Champion Fitness Physical Therapy, and use that as a dedicated martial arts facility, Ruthenberg said.

During the renovations at Round Barn, most members there will be diverted to the Galen Drive location, he said. After renovations are complete, all members in Champaign will be redirected to Round Barn.

Hours at The Fitness Center Body Shop are expected to reflect the current hours on Galen Drive — 4 a.m. to 10 p.m., he said.

Ruthenberg said The Fitness Center has about 85 employees — many of them part-time — at its four locations.

It will have fewer employees once the Galen Drive building closes, but members can expect to see the same trainers and instructors from Galen Drive at Round Barn, he said.

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