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A workout, whenever you want

Anytime Fitness in Lutz offers an exercise solution for night owls: 24-hour gym access.

Published June 1, 2007

Dele Obaitan works on lat pull-downs with one of the new fitness equipment machines at Anytime Fitness. "The nature of my job is that I'm always working," Obaitan said. " it's nice to be able to maintain your health and your physique even though I have a busy schedule."
[Times photo: Stephen J. Coddington]
[Times photo: Stephen J. Coddington]
Tracy Stivali of Land O' Lakes chats with her husband, Bill (left) as the pair ride stationary bicycles at Anytime Fitness in Lutz Thursday.

LUTZ - It's late. After midnight.

Work has just ended for those pulling an eight-hour shift on the emergency room floor or handling a 10-person party while waiting on three other tables at the local restaurant.

People in central Pasco who work off hours - who come home when even the street lights are sleeping - don't have a lot of options when it comes to working out.

But Anytime Fitness is looking to change that. Now open at 1850 Oak Grove Blvd., just off State Road 54, members there can work out at ... well, anytime they want. It's open 24/7.

"That's our niche," said owner Robert White, who recently left the hospitality industry after 17 years to buy this franchise. "That's the big thing we offer. In this area, you have so many people who work in the medical or hospitality field."

White said he got into the Anytime franchise because, at his old job, he would leave at about 12:30 or 1 a.m, but wouldn't be able to go to sleep right away. He found a 24-hour gym that helped him burn off that excess energy and sleep better.

Though Anytime might be the first in the area, it's not the first of its kind. There are thousands of locations across the country, including at least four more planned for the Tampa Bay area.

"We just always thought it was critical to have a place that was 24/7," president and founder Chuck Runyon said in a phone interview from Las Vegas. "We have people around major holidays who try to sneak in a workout."

Runyon and his partner, Jeff Klinger, said they got the idea after starting a consulting business that helped gyms find a way to attract more customers. They eventually found their own niche, and Anytime Fitness was born in 2001.

Late-night access is secure. Members are given an electronic key to let themselves in once the staff goes home at 10 p.m. There are also cameras inside the gym that monitor members working out. Members have to carry an emergency call device in case they injure themselves with no one around.

White says the device sends a call to EMS and wakes him up at home. He can also look in on the gym through his computer.

White said his favorite part of the franchise is free reign over the gym - such as painting the walls bright colors - and added that he enjoyed making Anytime compatible with the community.

"People also enjoy the environment," White said. "I went with vibrant colors because I can't stand a sterile place. I figure if the equipment doesn't wake you up, the paint job will.

"I wanted it to feel like each member designed a rec room in their house."

Runyon said Anytime's aim has always been to market to communities that may already have a gym or a local YMCA, without making them feel out of place.

"Anytime Fitness is for that person who is too busy to get to the other place by 10 (p.m.)," Runyon said. "Or for that guy who's 30 pounds overweight and looking to get back in shape comfortably without being intimidated in the gym. That's what we've aimed for."

Take Wesley Chapel native Michelle Forry, for example.

"I definitely have to work out late," said Forry, who stopped at Anytime after getting off work at a neighboring construction company in Land O'Lakes. "I need a place that I can come work out at when it's good for me. I did choose this place for that reason - and also the tanning."

For Rob Parker, who works from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. reading news and traffic at the WRBQ 104.7-FM (Q105), Anytime was a perfect gym with an even better location

"It's nearby where I live, so yeah, the 24-hour was a big part (of why I joined)," Parker said. "When I get off of work, all the other places are shutting down. It's just nice to know there's a place that I can go.

"Anytime means just that - that I can go work out anytime."

And that gets plenty of customers.

"A lot of times, I'll go over the amenities or try to show (potential members) the equipment," White said. "But then they'll tell me, 'You had me at 24 hours.' "

Fast Facts:

Workouts around the clock

What: Anytime Fitness

Where: 1850 Oak Grove Blvd.

Owner: Robert White

Opened: May 18

Call: (813) 995-9308

Features: Pulley weight machines, free weights, cardio machines with individual TVs and DVD players, tanning beds, personal trainers, virtual reality bikes, massage therapy, aerobics and nutritional counseling. Memberships start at about $86 down and $38 per month.

History lesson: The Anytime Fitness chain was started in late 2001 by two friends: Chuck Runyon and Jeff Klinger. The original gym was in St. Paul, Minn. The franchise, in which each location is independently owned, features 24-hour access for members to gym equipment and was ranked the 21st fasting-growing franchise by the Franchise Times' Fast 55. There are plans for at least four other Tampa Bay area locations to open within the next year.


World Gym, 24810 State Road 54. Hours are 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. weekdays, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Call (813) 948-4040.

Sports + Field, 2029 Arrowgrass Drive. Hours are 5:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. weekdays, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Call (813) 948-5500.


[Last modified June 1, 2007, 07:31:54]

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