When Betsy Burns and a small group of women friends in Wallowa decided to buy a tanning bed, and then a few pieces of exercise equipment, their idea was to fix up the old laundromat building as a place they could relax and let down their hair with the girls.
Instead, because of popular demand, the Tanning and Fitness Company opened Monday as a business enterprise.
"Yeah, it was supposed to be kind of a girls' club, a place to get away from our kids and significant others, relax and work on getting fit," said Betsy Burns. Then everyone kept stopping us or calling and saying, "we want to exercise, too," and one thing led to another. "It started out to be a fun place to go, and now it's a business," laughed Burns.
Her partners in the enterprise prefer not to be named, though they will be involved in the day to day operation of the fitness center, which is the first business of its kind in Wallowa.
Burns and her husband, Justin, who both grew up in Wallowa County, moved back to Wallowa in January, 2002, to buy and operate the Backwoods Saloon and the adjacent Yesterday's Dining House (formerly Plush West) on Main St. in Wallowa. A former computer engineer with Intel, Justin Burns is currently working on starting an Internet business as a service provider offering high speed connection in Wallowa.
Though Betsy Burns admits to working long hours, she is enthusiastic about the new business venture. As far as she knows it is the first fitness center of its kind in Wallowa, and she can already envision the possibility of expanding to a bigger space.
"Right now it's a business in a very small building," she said. Actually it is in a remodeled old laundromat at 109 W. Second St. ("kitty corner from the senior center"), which more recently was used as a storage building.
The center features two treadmills, complete with mileage and heart rate monitors, and a recline back exercise bike, along with a selection of weights. Much of the small fitness center is filled with a multi-station commercial Body Solid personal trainer gym unit. There is also a shower, and members can exercise, tan and shower, all before going to work.
"You can do 20 different exercises," said Burns proudly, naming off such exertions as leg press and ab crunch. "The men told us they wanted something so they could work out , too."
The fitness center will offer a number of membeship packages, including family rates, depending on how often customers want to make use of the facility, whether they want to also use the tanning bed and other variables.
To start out, the hours for the fitness center will be 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 4-8 p.m., and if there is enough interest Burns said it could also be open in the middle of the day for senior citizens or by appointment. She said that, depending on demand, some hours may be set aside just for women, some just for men and some co-ed.
Anyone interested in the center is invited to call (886-TANS) or stop by for membership fees and other information.