This epidemic has not gone unnoticed by the health industry, and as of late more and more options for getting fit have become available to people of all ages, genders, and fitness levels. On the cusp of a new boom of health-related stores and services in Forest Hills, the owners of the new Sedona Fitness and Spa on Metropolitan Avenue are hoping to bring physical fitness to the women of Forest Hills and Central Queens, which may be underserved by other gyms in the area.
Sandy Harry, co-owner of the new franchise gym, explained that the idea of a female-only fitness club is one that appeals to a wide variety of women. The gym, which opened in January, already has over 100 members, and is signing up new ones every day.
“People are losing their jobs, and that’s making it hard for them to relax,” said Harry. “In a tough economy, people get stressed out, and working out is one of the best ways to relive stress. People sleep better if they get a little exercise.”
If a woman in Central Queens happened to be looking to log a few miles on an elliptical machine, incorporate free weights into their squat routine, or sweat off some excess pounds in a sauna, Sedona would be one of the best places to do it.
The second-floor fitness center includes cardiovascular equipment, free weights, aerobic equipment, tanning booth, and a dance floor/classroom with a wide variety of programming. The owners will soon be building a spa center for facials and massages.
Both Harry and co-owner Mohanee Maldonado are Woodhaven residents who have a background in medicine. They decided to open the gym in Forest Hills because they wanted to give back to the neighborhood that they have loved for the last 15 years.
“We know that good health makes people more functional, and we have a passion for it,” said Harry.
Though there are several gyms on Austin Street, even one catering specifically to woman, Harry and Maldonado were persuaded to open up shop on Metropolitan Avenue because they felt it would provide easier access for their members.
“Austin Street is a shopping mall. Metropolitan Avenue is a neighborhood,” said Harry. Their large facility built in a new building with adequate parking is almost the exact opposite of the historic but cramped and parking space-challenged stores that line Austin Street.
Harry and Maldonado take special care to tailor the gym to their members’ needs, from offering exclusive membership plans to keeping a small, friendly staff that quickly familiarizes themselves with the clientele.
“We know everybody’s first name,” said Harry.
The owners also say that their facility is perfect for the burgeoning health movement that is spreading along Metropolitan Avenue. The gym opened shortly after the opening of Trader Joe’s, which specializes in natural, organic, and healthy foods, and the GNC store that sells vitamins and supplements.
“We offer very specific memberships, said Maldonado. “People can come in and we can determine what they specifically want, so they only pay for the services they use.”
“This gym reflects the neighborhood,” said Harry. “This is a residential neighborhood, and our gym isn’t industrial, and it’s not like a disco. People say they don’t have to put on makeup to come to this gym.”
It is that relaxed, friendly, all-female environment that makes Sedona especially appealing for the young, religious, or especially shy.
“Parents can send their daughters here without fearing that they will approached by men,” said Harry.
The gym has proven to be quite popular with Queens’ younger set, surprising its owners. “We expected more of an older crowd,” said Harry. “But mothers are really comfortable sending their daughters here.”
The owners take pride in providing a custom fitness experience to their members, and have successfully matched trainers with members.
“We had one member with three kids who was nervous about being overworked,” said Harry. “We paired her up with a trainer that had three kids, who had an idea of what our member would be able to do.”
To further accommodate mothers that would like to get in shape, Sedona has a small child-care room and provides a staff member to care for small children during certain operating hours.
Though they are thrilled to be helping the residents of their neighborhood, the owners of Sedona Fitness and Spa were especially thankful for the assistance they were given by other business owners on Metropolitan Avenue.
“We couldn’t have chosen a better place to build this gym,” said Harry.