Gainesville Health bulks up with new expansion


Jake Murphy does a workout on one of the new machines at the renovated Gainesville Health & Fitness.

Brad McClenny/Special to the Guardian
Published: Wednesday, August 21, 2013 at 12:44 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, August 21, 2013 at 12:44 p.m.

If you're inspired by the thought of biking through the Italian Alps or along Big Sur in California, then Gainesville Health and Fitness may be your best ticket to ride — locally at least.

The gym recently unveiled its new "spinning" room, featuring a screen at the front of the room showing different locations as people ride stationary bikes. The new cycling room is part of the gym's most recent renovations, which were celebrated at an open house called "The Big Reveal."

Construction on the new 12,000-square-foot expansion started about a year and a half ago, and includes a revamped weight room, with several new cardio machines — all facing a wall of windows looking out onto Newberry Road. The rehab center downstairs, called ReQuest physical therapy, also was renovated.

Several hundred people attended the open house celebration, which apart from the spinning classes, featured booths on the gym's upcoming changes, tours through the facility and healthy snacks such as smoothies and fruit.

"I'm in love with it," said Alison Paris, of the gym's new wing. Paris and her husband, Chad, who she said is also her personal trainer, just got back from Atlanta, where they visited his grandmother's fancy gym that Paris said GHFC is starting to resemble.

"To come back to this is very exciting," Paris said.

Alison and Chad, who own Parisleaf, a graphic and Web design company, have been gym members since 2009 and come every day after work together.

"It's a nice routine," she said.

For spin instructor Pam Harrison, who taught the 5:30 p.m. spin class, it was an honor to teach the inaugural spin class in the revamped studio — even more so, she said, because the class was held in honor of Susan Wright, an avid spinner who passed away recently from cancer.

"She was part of my spin family," said Harrison, adding that Wright rode in her class for several years.

When the class in her honor was announced, it filled up within a few hours.

"She was a ‘spinseration,' " Harrison said. "She always credited the gym and spinning with keeping her going."

Wright lived with ovarian cancer for seven years after her diagnosis, outliving her prognosis to the amazement of her doctors, Harrison continued.

GHFC founding owner Joe Cirulli said the latest renovations are part of ongoing changes to the main gym that will include new personal training and cardio training studios and an expanded area for stretching.

Cirulli, who started the gym in 1978, said the growth of all three GHFC gyms has been incremental. The other gyms are at Tioga Town Center and a Women's Gym at Thornebrook Village.

Cirulli said through all the expansion, his basic philosophy about the gyms has not changed.

"We want to create an experience where people can get the most out of life and inspire them to be their best," he said.

Membership is around 30,000 among all three gyms, and includes people of all ages and several families who have been members since the gym started.

"What can be better than a place where grandparents, parents and teenagers want to be together?" Cirulli said.

Kristine Crane is a Gainesville Sun staff writer.

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