Hanging on to the gym

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Monday, June 01, 2009
Local rock climbers in Bend are clinging to their gym membership as if they were hanging off a sheer mountainside. And with an imploded housing market and unemployment at 17%, the city is teetering on a cliff. Yet Bend-based Inclimb Rock Gym is planning to move into a larger building in July, an expansion plan that’s echoed at several Portland gyms.

“It’s kind of a response to the recession,” says manager Bevin Hess. “The building we’re in got bought right before the market crashed. They have plans to demolish it, so we decided to go the opposite route and expand.”

Though some clubs have seen membership remain flat, Inclimb and other fitness clubs around the state are following a national trend. According to trade magazine Fitness Business Pro, the fitness industry will not be as drastically affected by the recession as others. Research company IBISWorld projects 4% growth in the fitness industry this year. IBISWorld ranks the fitness industry fifth in projected growth, behind industries like video games and biotechnology.

In the Portland area, the YMCA of Columbia-Willamette is considering a new gym, though it’s based on need rather than profit. The YMCA and Gresham are discussing plans for a new YMCA in the Rockwood neighborhood. YMCA spokeswoman Tammy Spencer thinks people use fitness to regain control over their lives. “Folks might not be able to do anything about the stock market and economy,” says Spencer, “but they can do something about their health.”

24 Hour Fitness and L.A. Fitness are also expanding in Portland. There are a dozen 24 Hour Fitness clubs in Oregon, almost all in Portland. A 13th will open on Southeast McLaughlin in August. In January, L.A. Fitness opened its fifth location in Portland and plans a sixth this summer.

“People still need to be healthy. It’s something that people still hold high on their value list,” says Tyron Manlove of the L.A. Fitness on Northwest Northup.
JENNY FURNISS
 

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