By Tonya West
For Hometown News
In four short months, membership at Vision Fitness 24 in New Smyrna Beach has swelled to 450. The club pre-sold memberships in the NSB Regional shopping plaza parking lot for two months while the former Walmart was renovated into commercial space.
"We're a 24-hour facility that specializes in personal training," said Rob Ritz, who shares ownership with three trainers and is also responsible for franchise development. "We are very results driven. We have state of the art equipment, everything is brand new. Our free weight area goes up to 100 pounds for dumbbells. We have kettle bells, TRX bands and battle ropes that we familiarize a lot of people with."
The new customers flocking to the gym are between 30 and 50-plus years of age, with the majority being female. Mr. Ritz says the environment is "extremely non-intimidating" and not overcrowded, with about eight to 10 people training at any given time during the 24-hour period.
"The reason we do personal training is that 70 percent of people will quit a gym membership within three months," Mr. Ritz said.
"The majority of motivation comes from seeing results," he said.
Trainers will conduct a two-week body fat and inches check while you're training and they'll help you start a nutritional journal. After you reach your goal, they will set up a program to maintain what you've achieved.
Mr. Ritz's "dream team" includes part owners Jimmy Kohen, and Fred and Deneen Godawa. Jason Wolters and Shay Presley, each with three years' experience, round out the team. All trainers are nationally certified and college degreed.
The Godawas' journey into the world of fitness began years ago with family health issues and weight gain associated with aging.
"I've always been a cardio person," said Mrs. Godawa, who was commonly seen in Port Orange on her 10-mile walks. Her father's heart attack and her eldest son's two heart surgeries were turning points for her. Years later her husband began training and became friends with Mr. Ritz and that's when the personal training aspect "totally changed my outlook" on fitness.
"The trainers here will give you a legitimate work out," Mrs. Godawa said. One time she counted how many exercises Mr. Wolters put her through in an hour. "55!" she exclaims. "The trainers here don't text and talk."
Mr. Godawa noticed the difference age makes. "Even though I was in the Fire Department and still training hard, once age caught up to me I couldn't eat what I was eating. I started training with Rob, started losing weight and gaining muscle."
Mr. Ritz says fitness is moving in the direction of more core and functional training. "We do have all the machines you could want, but people are getting away from that. They're understanding that you can incorporate core, legs and arms all in one exercise rather than going to three separate machines."
The club sports a Synergy 360XM. "It's a trainer playground," Mr. Wolters said. "We can do anything on it. We don't even need to leave that area to get your whole work out in."
The system utilizes straps, bars, a punching bag and two long "battle ropes" to whip and wave for cardio and resistance training.
There are 10 cardio machines with personal televisions, weight machines, an ab/stretching area, and a huge tire for flipping and jumping maneuvers. A long strip of turf in the entry corridor is a space for lunges or pushing the sled.
Mr. Godawa offers this advice to someone who has never joined a gym. "It's about getting in here and starting to work out. There's no secret formula or magic pill. Get in here, start training right, start eating right, have someone push you."
Others may let poor body image weigh them down. "I'm so big, I should probably do something first because everyone is looking at me," is an excuse Mr. Ritz offered. "Believe it or not, they're cheering you on because you could be anywhere else, but you're here grinding it out with everyone else. As you lose 10, 20, 30 or 50 pounds, you know you did it on your own, but you did it in here and you make a family."
"We're all family," said Mr. Kohen, who has five years' experience. "People come here just to talk to us. They are so comfortable with us. It's definitely our personalities, but we've all had our ups and downs and we relate to people's problems, physically and mentally."
"You definitely defuse the bomb of life when you come in here," Mr. Ritz said. "Even if we have something going on in our personal lives, we put it aside for the member."
You can "visit" the gym at https://www.facebook.com/visonfitness24nsb or in the NSB Regional shopping plaza on State Road 44 in New Smyrna Beach, next to Firehouse Subs.