May 15, 2022

Dear, dear WFC members,     

This is my love letter to you and the beautiful community we have built together at Women’s Fitness Center. It’s also a very, very difficult letter for me to write, because I have to tell you that the Women’s Fitness Center is closing. I just haven’t been able to come back from the deep losses of Covid, and it’s time to let go.

In May of 1985, I graduated with a degree in Psychology and a desire to help people feel more alive, confident, and capable of attaining whatever goals they may have in their lives. With my head out of the textbooks, I was free to spend the summer working out and considering my next move. I felt the energy and vitality that exercise brought me. The joy and confidence of attaining my fitness goals made other goals seem easier to attain. Being a part of the fitness industry would mean that I could help make a difference for people both physically and psychologically. The just-right set of circumstances made it possible for me to become a gym owner in November of 1985, and I was thrilled.

I was twenty-two years old when I started at the gym; I’m fifty-nine now. It’s been an amazing 37 years, and a joy to be a part of the deep self-care you have all enjoyed at the gym, whether from workouts on the cardio and weight machines, dancing, doing yoga or Pilates, or relaxing in the spa. I have spent these many years in an environment where we have cared for ourselves in the most primary way, and where we have cared for each other as well. I have witnessed so many women become stronger in their bodies, and also become stronger in their confidence, their vitality and their pride in accomplishing significant goals. I’m grateful for the dedication and excellence of the teachers you’ve had to help you.

And our relationships to each other became stronger, as all of this has happened in a community of diverse, fascinating and inclusive women. I have watched dancers of every age, shape and ability level move with joy and freedom to every kind of dance class you can imagine, from Hip Hop to Latin, Hula to Belly Dancing, Afro-Caribbean to Jazz. I have seen new yoga and Pilates students struggle in the first few classes, and each time be encouraged by the teachers and other members to keep coming, as it was going to get easier. It did, and now these women were accomplishing things they couldn’t have imagined. I have instructed women thousands of times on the weight equipment, and seen their delight as they mastered new skills that had them feeling powerful and bold. Over the years, I’ve watched thousands of women talk and connect while working out on the machines and cardio. And so many women have floated out of the locker room after a whirlpool soak or time in the steam or sauna, deeply relaxed, smiling, sometimes even leaving the gym in their bathrobes, because, as one women said, “I feel comfortable enough here to do this."

I have been inspired in more ways than I could list by the women of our gym. Women who worked out so they could “keep up with the grandchildren," women who worked out so they could keep up with their high school track team. Women who exercised in preparation for triathlons, pregnancy, childbirth, climbing expeditions; women who exercised to recover from injuries, cancer, divorce or grief. Women who worked out every day so they could simply have happier, more empowered lives. Women who danced to help them feel joy whether their lives were easy or difficult at the time; women who took yoga to find stillness and movement simultaneously; women who took Pilates to feel the strong core of themselves, both literally and metaphorically.

As one of you recently said to me, “I come here because I love myself.” You’ve all come here because you care for yourself. And we’ve cared for ourselves side by side, all these years.

I have seen so many friendships flower here. Friendships that are new, friendships that have lasted for decades, including some in my own life. Real connections have been forged, whether they have lasted for a short time or deepened into what are likely lifelong bonds. There is a group of women who met here at the gym who have been meeting for coffee for over 30 years. Women who met here have offered each other comfort, advice, attention, a different perspective, connections to babysitters, book clubs, preschools, and massage therapists. I’ve seen a number of women find new careers as a result of connections made here. I’ve seen many exchange phone numbers, laughter, interest in each other’s lives, care, concern. And then there has been just the deep sense of comfort and familiarity in seeing the same friendly faces week after week, year after year. People who smile and recognize you and are happy to see you.

I have really loved this time with you all. I will miss all of you in ways I can’t find words for. You have all been a source of inspiration, joy, friendship and community for me and for all of the other women in this community with you. I feel so grateful to have been a part of your lives and to have provided a place where you could take deep care of yourself. I send my love to all of you, and my gratitude for your years of loyalty and connection. The gym has been so important to all of us, and we’ve been important to each other.

With love,

Joan


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