LACONIA — Those looking for an excuse not to exercise can’t say there aren’t enough athletic clubs.
With last month’s opening of the 24,000-square-foot Wellness Complex on North Main Street, there are now at least four workout facilities in the downtown area. An Olympic-size competitive pool is a big attraction for the complex in a former YMCA.
For three years, Craig Raphaelson, of Laconia, used to drive more than an hour each way to use the pool at Colby-Sawyer College in New London.
“It’s awesome. I live, seriously, direct route, maybe a quarter mile from here. I can be here in maybe 5 minutes,” said Raphaelson, who was a competitive swimmer in high school and later competed in triathlons.
Frances Plunkett, the club’s manager, said that in addition to lap swimming, aqua classes have been a hit in the pool.
“It’s hopping here in the morning,” Plunkett said. “People tell us there is nothing like this in the area.”
She said the club has won compliments for cleanliness and friendliness of staff.
Michael Lowry, director of operations, said more than 150 signed up for the club during March when pre-sales began.
“Everyday, more and more people are signing up,” he said.
Work on the pool and the heating and air conditioning system were two of the biggest refurbishments necessary before the club could open. Wood floors were refinished and extensive painting was completed.
The club also includes areas for free weights, cardiovascular machines, aerobic classes, yoga, spin classes and child care.
Charlie Mabardy, president of Mabardy Oil Inc., bought the club last year for $575,000. He also owns the Health Club of Concord.
The building was constructed in 1962 to house the YMCA. Tom and Lori Oakley bought the building in 1991 and operated it as an athletic club for nearly a quarter of a century. They closed the club in November 2015, leaving its members looking for a new place to work out.
Last fall, Fit Focus, a 30,000-square-foot athletic club, opened on the ground floor of the city’s downtown parking garage, more than eight years after such a facility was first proposed.
The club is owned by Steve Borghi and his son, Brandon, who is running the business.
Fit Focus has rows and rows of cardio and weight machines, multiple racks of free weights, a child care area, a women-only workout area, rooms for spin and other classes, saunas, places for stretching, television screens throughout.
There are also two smaller clubs downtown.
The Downtown Gym bills itself as a small, independent gym offering “a wide range of group exercise classes, personal training, cycling and specialty classes.”
Raw Fitness also offers various classes and personal training that “incorporates and targets joint movements, cardiovascular, strength, flexibility and form in a professional relaxed atmosphere.”