News From Terre Haute, Indiana


July 13, 2014

Valley gym review: Choosing the right fit for your fitness goals

TERRE HAUTE — A list of excuses people use for not exercising could almost fill today’s sports section by itself.

The most common: “I don’t have time.”

“The No. 1 excuse people have for not coming [to the gym] is time,” confirmed Chad Atterson, owner of Terre Haute’s three Anytime Fitness facilities. “No one has time to work out, supposedly. But you’ve got to reprioritize your health. What’s your health worth to you? Is it worth something to be able to run to chase your kids?”

According to an article in “The Healing Power of Exercise,” a pamphlet published by the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association, numerous scientific studies show that exercise can play a significant role in preventing diseases and chronic conditions, including cancer, heart disease, stroke, osteoporosis, arthritis and more.

“Research has also proven that exercise helps enhance brain function and independence in the aged,” the article continued. “And combined with sensible nutrition, exercise could save billions in healthcare costs.”

Fortunately for the citizens of Terre Haute, there is no shortage of fitness centers within easy driving (or walking) distance to help them reach their goals.

And don’t be mistaken, goals can be reached.

Jessica Atkins, 27, is married and a registered nurse at Union Hospital. She started working out six years ago. Now she’s a member of Terre Haute Fitness Center.

“I was heavy for a couple years of my life and decided to do something to change,” she told the Tribune-Star. “So I started eating better and my first exercise goal was to go three times a week for 20 minutes. I was able to do that. I fell in love with exercise and really got into it.”

Atkins described what she looks for in a fitness center at this stage in her life.

“I want free weights because I want to be healthy and look awesome,” she said. “I just want a place where I feel motivated, where other people are working hard. I also want a knowledgable staff.”

Ted Swan, 44, also is married and he works in patient account services at Terre Haute Regional Hospital. He’s been lifting weights for 20 years and he’s certain that it’s helped him stay in respectable shape as he’s gotten older.

“I just did it to keep in shape,” recalled Swan, now a member of Anytime Fitness. “I played a little basketball when I was younger and I’ve played softball, but I thought I needed a little bit more to keep active.

“I like a place that’s open a lot because of the weird hours that I work [often overnights]. As far as equipment, the more the better. I’m more into free weights. But the older I get, the more I’m getting into cardio. Anywhere I go to needs to have an adequate variety of free weights with some cardio. Location helps too. And you’ve got to have a clean atmosphere. Having TVs on helps as well. That way, you can keep up with a game while you’re working out.”

While Swan has been lifting for 20 years, Eric Harvey is only 20 years of age. Single and a certified nursing assistant, he joined the Vigo County YMCA to start sculpting his physique about a year ago after he had focused on basketball as a teenager.

“Mainly, I wanted to stay healthy,” explained Harvey, who often goes to the Y with his 54-year-old father Max. “Working out is good for the body and it makes you look and feel better.”

The younger Harvey mentioned what appeals to him about a fitness facility.

“Equipment-wise, I want a squat rack, a bench press and I like heavy dumbbells,” he said. “Atmosphere-wise, I like a place with more people, even if the equipment is being used a lot. I feel more energized and more motivated when people are around. I want a decent price range, not too expensive, but a range where the price is worth what you’re getting.”

Lastly, 29-year-old Chad Buddle is engaged and an assistant operator at Bemis Co. He’s worked out for 14 years and he’s currently a member of Union Hospital Center for Fitness and Performance.

“I was slightly overweight when I was younger and wanting to make a change,” he said. “I started reading about the subject and did a lot of research about ways to change my eating habits. The fitness part came in when I started working out at the firehouse [on Fruitridge Avenue]. … I then found the world of weights. I found a passion in it, where it made me feel more confident. I was looking for a way to build confidence and it ended up being a way of life.”

Buddle enjoys using free weights, weightlifting machines and cardio equipment, but the atmosphere and organization of a facility are important to him as well.

“I look forward to seeing a tight-knit group that’s like a family,” he added. “You want to be close to people you know who can push you to a good workout. I want an organized place that’s not cluttered, where you don’t have to look everywhere to find something.”

Below is a review of nine Terre Haute/Vigo County fitness centers (listed in alphabetical order). A partial list of others from around the Wabash Valley appears elsewhere in this section. Surely at least one can fit your needs.

Anytime Fitness

Billed nationally as “the club for busy people,” the 24-hour Anytime Fitness chain has three Terre Haute locations — one near downtown, one south and one east.

Local owner Chad Atterson said three is enough to keep him busy for now.

The one at 101 S. Fruitridge Ave. opened first (December 2008), then came the largest of the three at 4425 S. Seventh St. (December 2009), then the latest to open is at 320 S. Third St. (May 2013). Atterson said the Fruitridge location recently underwent a remodeling.

“Basically, we repainted with a newer color scheme,” he said. “We changed all the carpets, so all the flooring is brand new. I added some new equipment — the stair mill, the Expresso fitness bikes. We cleaned everything up and made it up to date, just like a brand new gym.”

Its locations are probably as clean as any fitness facility in town. Members are encouraged to wipe down each piece of equipment after use.

Anytiime Fitness critics, mostly the hardcore weightlifting types, are likely to point out that its Terre Haute facilities offer only one Olympic bar at each location. There also are no benches designed specifically for performing the popular bench-press exercise, although creative lifters can still line up a flat bench next to a power rack to do bench presses.

Despite that, Atterson believes the Terre Haute AFs cater to a wide variety of customers.

“We do have a big woman [customer] base,” he stressed. “We have people who are more about living a healthy lifestyle. It’s something that once you start into it, we make it convenient for you to continue on with it. I started out bodybuilding competitively in my 20s, but maintained as I got older into my 40s.”

Before owning his own gym, Atterson — who graduated from Indiana State University with a degree in finance — worked out at the many fitness centers that occupied the building at the corner of 11th Street and Wabash Avenue. After they closed, Atterson needed a facility that he could conveniently use while juggling family and Atterson Tire work responsibilities.

“[Fitness] was a passion and a hobby that I loved being around,” he said.

That’s when Atterson researched the possibility of starting his own Terre Haute facility, which led to two and eventually three.

“This [pointing toward all the fitness equipment from his office at the Anytime Fitness east location] is not coming to work every day,” he insisted. “I love this atmosphere.

“Everybody’s got a goal in mind or an image of what they perceive themselves as. So they join a club to make a change in their lifestyle, whether they want to lose weight, build muscle, maintain, whatever goal they have in mind. Hopefully, that’s where we come into play, where we can fit their needs. … I want to make sure your experience is the best when you come in.”

All three locations have personal trainers, but the overwhelming plus side of any Anytime Fitness is its 24-hour access. Often times, 5-10 customers can be seen using any of the AF facilities around 1 or 2 a.m.

“Everybody’s on a different schedule,” Atterson pointed out. “Everybody’s got a different work schedule and a different lifestyle, so people who get off work at 1 or 2 in the morning can come in here and work out.”

The Nutrishop store inside the same building with the downtown Anytime Fitness is owned by Atterson and his brother Todd.

For more information on Anytime Fitness locations around the world, go to Anytime Fitness phone apps are available for finding the nearest locations when traveling and for planning workouts and meals.

Fitness Solutions

“Our tag line is ‘efficient fitness for real people,’” said owner Chris Davies, a certified personal trainer who opened his class-based, appointment-only facility at its current location on Walnut Street in October 2013.

“Basically, it’s functional, multi-jointed exercises, meaning we don’t have any strength-training machines. We use kettlebells, plyometric boxes, slam balls, wall balls, dueling ropes, etc… It’s all based around things you can do on your own. We focus on technique and safety for effective results.”

Davies said there are four trainers, including himself, with a degree or certificate in exercise. His degree is in adult fitness from Indiana State. He’s been training people for 22 years, so he’s no rookie to the fitness business.

“In and out in less than 45 minutes” is one of Davies’ promises.

Davies said he’s able to show customers exercises they can do in a motel room while traveling, if they’re interested in that.

“I’d prefer to make sure people do things absolutely correctly,” he said, explaining why such a hands-on approach is used at his facility.

It offers discounts to first responders, military personnel, educators, senior citizens and students. Also, no contracts are involved in joining.

For more information, visit

“We are an appointment-based exercise facility catering to those who prefer structure and routine in their daily lives,” the website says. “Each day there are a variety of class and time options to choose from. Reserving a spot in a class, or with a trainer, is simple and can be done through Internet or on a smartphone.”

Indiana State University Student Recreation Center

Once a first-time visitor steps inside this 109,450-square-foot, two-floor facility — opened by Indiana State University for Indiana State University in July 2009 — it’s difficult not to lay eyes on something fitness or health related.

There’s a natatorium that includes a lap pool, leisure pool, hot tub and sauna. There’s a three-court gym for basketball, volleyball and badminton. There’s a Multi-Activity Court (MAC) designed for indoor soccer, floor hockey and other activities. There’s an elevated walking/jogging track. There’s a tremendous assortment of cardio and strength-training equipment as well as free weights. There’s a cycling room for instructor-led classes. There are plenty of other fitness-oriented classes, including Zumba. There’s a massage-therapy room. There’s even the Rick H. Spear Juice Bar, which serves healthy snacks in the fall, winter and spring.

It’s a fabulous facility, but here’s the reality: You must be affiliated with the university in some capacity to purchase a membership. Full-time students get in at no extra charge after paying their tuition and staff/faculty members also get in at no charge.

Factor in parking costs for those who drive there — tags are required for each vehicle in the large lot — and this isn’t the place for those hoping to save a few bucks.

“Alumni are allowed to purchase memberships,” explained John Lentz, ISU’s director of the office of Recreational Sports. “Spouses and adult dependents [of members] are allowed to purchase memberships. But if you’re a Terre Haute person with no connection to the university, you cannot purchase a membership to the Rec Center.

“We’re a little bit unique in that we are here to service the university first, so we are a university facility. So unlike some of the other facilities in town, our schedule is based on the university schedule.”

That means reduced hours in the summer and especially around Christmas/New Year’s. Otherwise, it stays open later than any of the non-24-hour facilities — until 11 o’clock six nights a week during the school year.

“The facility has changed the culture of our campus,” Lentz continued. “If you compare our facility with what we had before with the Arena, the ‘dungeon,’ it’s a hundred-percent student recreation from the time we open in the morning ’til when it closes at night.”

As one might expect, when a fitness facility is as amazing as this one, it gets elbow-to-elbow crowded during the school year.

“It’s dramatically different in the summer,” Lentz said with a chuckle during a June interview. “During the regular semester … you can always find [equipment] availability around noon time. But usually around 2:30 [p.m.], it starts getting busy. Then by 3 o’clock, we’re hopping. We’re busy from 3 o’clock to 8:30 or 9 o’clock.”

Fortunately, as Lentz pointed out, the ISU Student Recreation Center has 66 cardio machines available for those busy times.

“Rarely do you have to wait for a cardio machine,” he mentioned. “You might have to wait for a little bit at prime time, but not very long.”

Members planning to drive to this facility may purchase parking tags from ISU Public Safety.

For more information, visit

Stan’s Nautilus Exercise and Fitness Center

Owned by Stan Petty, Stan’s has been open for the longest continuous time of any fitness center in Terre Haute — roughly 35 years. It’s been at its current location on South 13th Street since the early 1990s.

This gym contains equipment that looks older than most of the other facilities in town, but they still get the job done.

Old school can still be effective, right?

Manager/head trainer Kevin Selby highlighted some of the positive aspects about Stan’s Nautilus.

“We have some of the most competitive [membership] rates in Terre Haute [including $295 for one year],” he emphasized. “We also have a well-educated staff. All members of our staff are graduate students.”

Selby, a Washington High School graduate and recent former Vincennes University track/soccer athlete who has worked at Stan’s for three years, said he’ll graduate from Indiana State in August with a master’s degree in kinesiology and coaching.

“I have a lot of background in fitness and athletics,” he mentioned. “Athletics has changed my life. It’s been a motivator in my life. … Now I have clients all the way from age 12 to 78. I work with athletes, people with rehabilitation issues, people who want to lose weight and people who want to gain muscle.”

Stan’s has 18 pieces of Nautilus equipment to go with its free weights, aerobics classes and a heat sauna for men and women. Selby said Stan’s plans to start offering modified CrossFit classes in July.

For more information, visit

Terre Haute Fitness Center

If you want a 24-hour gym on the north side, one with lots of room and a slew of equipment, Terre Haute Fitness Center is a viable option.

Owned by Tim Cottrell, it’s one of the newest fitness centers in town, having opened in October 2013.

Located in Twelve Points, Terre Haute Fitness Center is the only 24-hour alternative to Anytime Fitness. But that’s not its only selling point to the community.

“We try to make it so there is ‘fitness for everybody,’” THFC manager Zach Taylor said. “That’s kind of our motto. We want to offer a little bit of everything.

“If you are more interested in the cardio aspect, you have a private space you can work on that. If you want to work on powerlifting and strongman aspects, we offer that. If you’re just a reguar, everyday, run-of-the-mill lifter, we’ve got plenty of machines and plenty of free weights for everybody. And at the same time, we’re trying to make it affordable and reasonable for anybody out there who wants to get in shape.”

Yes, its one-year membership of $300 for one year is among the most reasonable in Terre Haute.

“We eliminated any kind of contract obligations or start-up costs,” Taylor added. “So the $30 a month when you first come in, that’s all you pay. You’re good to go after that. No hidden costs at all.”

Parking is not the most convenient in town. There is a fenced-in lot west of the building that gets crowded easily.

“That’s one aspect we’re working to rectify,” admitted Taylor, who’s hoping to expand the parking area in the future.

Inside the gym, a 600-pound tire for striking with a sledgehammer is one unique piece of equipment available at THFC.

“We try to offer a special focus on the strongman type of apparatus,” Taylor noted.

But he stressed that the casual fitness person won’t be intimidated by any of the club’s “strongmen” or “strongwomen” at THFC.

“I want to be open to the serious lifters because I know they are kind of shied away from in a lot of facilities and a lot of gyms,” Taylor said. “We’ve got some really big guys in here, to be honest, but I’ve not seen any situation where there’s any sort of problem between them and a tiny woman who’s just here to run on the treadmill. The cardio room is quite a ways away from the weight room.

“On top of that, we also have the classroom area, which is separated from the weight room. So a lot of people, if they don’t want to be around the heavy lifters, they tend to migrate in there and just use it for their weight exercises.”

Terre Haute Fitness Center has three personal trainers, including Taylor.

A former news editor for the Tribune-Star, Taylor said he jumped into the fitness business last year because, “I felt like I was missing something in my life.”

“I felt like I needed to do something more to help people,” he continued. “Watching people improve their health was a tremendous reward for me.”

Fitness classes are taught at THFC, but probably not as many as at some of the other fitness facilities.

“Right now, we’re actually down a few instructors because we had a few quit at the end of the ISU school year [in May],” Taylor admitted. “Some of them were from ISU. Right now, I’m down to two classes on Thursdays.”

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