by Carole Verona
Too busy to exercise? Well, you’re just going to have to find another excuse.
Anytime Fitness, a gym that is accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, opened for business June 21 at 7719 Crittenden St. in the Market Square shopping center. “This is a club for busy people. Come in, do your 30- to 40-minute workout and get on with your life,” said Mike Atkinson, franchise owner.
After 20-plus years as a product development professional at a division of AT&T, Atkinson, 48, a resident of the city’s Brewerytown section, was ready for a career change. “I had done that long enough,” he explained, “and it was time to try something new. Because of my business background, I did a pretty tight evaluation of all the opportunities that were available.”
Atkinson started planning for this over a year ago. The Market Square location was the sixth or seventh that he looked at. The CLC Bookcenter had just vacated the space, so Atkinson jumped on it. “I thought that Chestnut Hill would be the perfect place. You’ve got the cobblestone streets, the close-knit community and the quaint shops up and down the hill. Even the McDonald’s doesn’t look like a McDonald’s! It’s really a very impressive area.”
At Anytime Fitness, members will find state-of-the art cardio machines, each with its own media center, plus strength equipment and free weights. Amenities include private bathrooms and showers, a tanning bed and a separate room for yoga, exercise and spinning classes. More than 50 virtual training programs are also available.
When asked about the heavy competition from several fitness clubs in the area, Atkinson replied, “We like to think we are not in competition with them, but we know we are. We feel our price, considering our amenities, staff and hours, is a bargain. Our virtual trainer is a major upgrade over Planet Fitness, and our security is state-of-the-art. We do not have 16-year-old high school kids at the counter. Our operation is upscale all the way. We are simply more advanced than the other places.”
Atkinson noted that members also have access to more than 2,550 Anytime Fitness locations in all 50 states and 18 countries around the world. According to a recent article in Forbes magazine, Anytime Fitness has a strong online presence and an app that enables members to track their progress, download new workouts and connect with other members.
“Your mobile app also helps you stay connected to the club while you’re gone,” said Atkinson. “If you’re out taking a walk, when you come back to a cardio machine, the machine knows what you did and gives you credit for that. If you work out at an Anytime Fitness center in Australia, your same profile will come up, enabling you to do the same workout there and be able to keep track of it the same way you do here.”
Anytime Fitness is staffed from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m. on Mondays through Fridays and from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays. “People often do a double take at the concept of a 24/7 gym,” Atkinson said. Because security during off-hours is a concern, each member is given a personalized key fob. “After you swipe it, you will have about three seconds to open the door and enter.” There are 16 different views of the club monitored on a remote screen. There are heat sensors to ensure that the number of people who swiped their key fobs equals the number of people who are actually inside. If the numbers don’t add up, Atkinson is notified immediately. He can hit a button and call 911.
Anytime Fitness boasts a mature security model. “It has been tried and tested. There’s never been a violent crime in any Anytime Fitness facility because of the precautions that are taken,” he said. The club also provides panic buttons, which members can wear around their necks after hours. If they see someone lurking outside, for example, they can hit this button and make a direct call to 911.
At the time of this interview, Atkinson was in the process of hiring a personal trainer and making plans for group exercise classes, zumba, spin and dance classes and indoor and outdoor boot camps.
Aly Starkovich, a Chestnut Hill resident and co-owner of Pop Up Yoga Philly, is on board and will teach hour-long yoga classes at Anytime Fitness on Mondays at 6:15 a.m., Thursdays at 6:30 p.m. and Saturdays at 9:15 a.m. The classes are free for members and $10 for non-members.
Membership fees are $44.99 per month for 12 months or $39.99 per month for 18 months, plus an enrollment fee of $49. For people over 18 living under the same roof, the second person can join for $20 a month. Anytime Fitness also offers a 10 percent discount to police officers and firefighters.
For more information, contact Atkinson at 215-247-0150 or email PhiladelphiaPA@AnytimeFitness.com.