Wednesday Jan 28 2009
Local gym making fitness a snap
By: Art Garcia, Special to the Telegraph
When Cynthia and Bob Breazeale decided to seek independence from the corporate world and start a business of their own they wanted not only freedom but something they could put their heart into. After research and due diligence, they made a Snap decision. There’ve been no regrets since they opened their Snap Fitness franchise in a 3,000-square-foot corner location in the Safeway Center-Green Valley Marketplace at the corner of Green Valley Road and Francisco Drive in July of 2007. They’re licensed by the parent company to open three more Snap clubs but, said Mrs. Breazeale, “We’ve been waiting for an indication the economy has a heartbeat again.” “Find a hole and fill it” is a whiskered cliché in business and industry that’s been given a more modern makeover of finding a niche market or a niche within a market. Minnesota-based Snap believes it has and so does she. There are 860 Snap Fitness clubs across the country, including one each in Shingle Springs and Placerville. Another 800 are in the queue waiting to open. “If you’re a member in one Snap, you’re a member in all,” Mrs. Breazeale said. Snap operations are well-equipped clubs with few frills, designed for someone who wants the latest in workout and exercise equipment but who can do without the day spa environment. The Breazeale Snap has about 675 members, she said. No hot tubs, saunas, steam rooms, lounges at Snap. In fact, no showers and no lockers. Membership includes an access card that opens the club 24 hours a day, seven days a week, even with no staffers present. You can work out at 3 in the afternoon or 3 in the morning. Just be sure the door is closed and locked when you leave. The membership fee of $150 is currently discounted to $69; monthly fee for a single is $39.95 and $59.95 for a family. The club offers discounts for seniors, teachers, students and law enforcement and emergency personnel. Active duty members of the military receive a 50 percent discount. There are no contracts, no sign-up fees, no penalties for dropping your membership. “Snaps are embedded in neighborhoods so the vast majority of members live within three to five miles,” said Mrs. Breazeale. She and her son Nick and her husband and his daughters Jessica and Meagan live in Briggs Ranch in Folsom. The Snap chain has a “Keep Your Resolutions!” shape-up challenge targeted to all who self-promise to lose weight after indulging over the year-end holidays. “No matter your goal, we’ll help you achieve it,” a company promo piece promises. Current incentives include a grand prize two-night getaway for two anywhere in the continental U.S. First and second prizes are a 19-in. LCD HDT and a Blue-Ray disc player. There also are weekly drawings for gift cards. Details at www.mysnapfitness.com. Snap shops also offer fitness training packages, a free personal wellness plan, a free online training center, online nutrition and meal planning, “boot camp 101” group training, a free instruction and workout plan and one-on-one personal training. Mrs. Breazeale worked at Intel in Folsom for 14 years, leaving as a program manager. Her first husband, an Intel engineer, died of a heart attack while playing basketball. He was 40 and she was pregnant. “That was my bucket of ice water regarding life,” she said. After she and Bob, the main database administrator and a systems architect at Eyefinity, a Vision Service Plan subsidiary in Rancho Cordova, met and married and decided to go into business, they agreed they wanted to do something involving the heart, “something that did good for other people.” The other heart connection was that his daughter, Jessica, had survived three open-heart surgeries as an infant. The Breazeales contribute 10 percent of the club’s yearly profit to the American Heart Association. They tried starting a business on their own in emergency preparedness but after almost a year learned most people who live on the West Coast aren’t interested in or concerned about emergencies until they happen, the occasional major earthquake for example. Elsewhere, people live in fear of frequent tornadoes, hurricanes, ice storms, floods. The Breazeales were looking for “a balanced life, not working as hard as we were,” she said. “We landed on Snap. Overall, it’s been an extremely positive experience. We were able to open in a matter of months a business that would have taken us years.” Both are “passionate” outdoor people, Mrs. Breazeale said. For her 40th birthday Mr. Breazeale egged her on to climb up and down Yosemite’s Half Dome; for her 50th, he’s suggesting climbing up and down Mt. Whitney in a day as a special gift. She has a black belt in the martial art of aikido and she trekked Nepal for a year. Her dream: to see the aurora borealis, the northern polar lights, from Alaska. Should be a snap.