North Mpls. about to get neighborhood's first gym

5:24 PM, Oct 3, 2012   |    comments
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Fitness centers can be found all over the metro -- except in one community.  Adults in north Minneapolis do not have a place to exercise.

Dr. Tara Watson is about to change that.  She is a chiropractor in the heart of North Minneapolis, at West Broadway and Penn Avenue, and rebuilt her chiropractic office right after last year's tornado ravaged her building. Watson is a former track athlete and inner city youth track coach, and now wants to make sure both her patients and neighbors are also in top condition.

Right next door, she is opening an Anytime Fitness. Watson is currently is in the permitting process with the city of Minneapolis, but already the sign from the fitness franchise has gone up. She put in her own sweat equity, with research and plans, asked Anytime Fitness to take a risk.

"I had to pitch my plan idea mission and sell them why it would work here. The North side kind of has a history and a name for being one of the unhealthier communities, with very high obesity rates and health disparities, so it just kind of made sense," said Watson.

Within walking distance, you can find any pick of fast food, but not one fitness center for adults. The nearby YMCA on West Broadway is for kids and teens. So, Watson is gutting a former restaurant space with a new kitchen to make way for treadmills and weights.

"I am getting rid of it, so we can have this gym right in a community that needs it because there isn't anything for them to do in terms of health," she said.

For Dr. Watson, the construction is an exercise of courage. It not only represents a revitalization of the community she love but she hopes to inspire her patients to rebuild from within.

"We need something like that, we don't have anything like that," said her patient Yhlanda Rogers.

Watson has also received support from Minneapolis Councilman Don Samuels who says the opening of the gym signals a shift in the main artery of North Minneapolis, which was ground zero for the tornado. He says the demand is there, but now the goal is to change the paradigm.

"I am hoping it's going to be another arena for people to get together and meet and help each other promote healthier lifestyles, you don't have to meet over a meal to talk," said Watson. "I am excited and nervous, I believe, I know it's going to work. The community needs it, they are ready for it, and I believe they are going to do everything to keep it here."

The North Minneapolis Anytime Fitness will be around 5,000 square feet and open 24 hours a day. Watson says she is working to make memberships affordable, around 40 dollars per month, and hopes to open by late winter.

"It's better than an idea," she said. "It's a dream come true."

(Copyright 2012 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)

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