No more gym jitters: New Naples gym looks to banish ‘unfit’ stigma for newcomers

Where: 4133 U.S. 41 N., Naples

Contact: (239) 298-4591 or visit

Information hours: 10 a.m.–6 p.m. Monday through Saturday

Health club hours: 5 a.m. to midnight, Monday through Thursday; 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday; 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday

Membership: Month to month — $10 a month with $1 down and annual fee of $29.99; Lime Card — $19.99 monthly plus annual fee of $29.99; it gives you access to all locations and guest privileges as well as half-price drinks

For some people, just walking into a gym is stressful, a deterrent that keeps them from taking that first crucial step to get in shape.

Intimidating machines, intrusive employees and fear of not measuring up to the size-two model or 15-inch bicep bodybuilder on the next treadmill are just a few things that can drain the confidence required to get fit.

In Youfit Health Clubs, owner Rick Berks set out to create a place for every body where “you fit” in — hence, the name Youfit. He says he founded Youfit on the principle of simplicity — equipment and staff, no pressure or hard sell.

“I had a career in fitness and was instrumental in opening gyms since 1991,” says Berks, who was a founder of Planet Fitness, a similar concept. “In my experience I consistently heard people remark about needing to look better and be in better shape before joining a gym.”

Berks said he wanted to alleviate the intimidation associated with going to the gym he witnessed and find a way to help people get moving.

“My goal was, let’s try to get people of the couch, knowing that the average person who may not be in the best of shape doesn’t want to work out next to a bunch of guys grunting,” says Berks.

While patrons would be hard pressed to find bodybuilders at Youfit, Berks is quick to say that’s only because it’s not a gym that clientele prefers.

“People who come to Youfit are typically not serious workout people. Nobody comes here because they are training for a show, because we don’t have the equipment or workout space that lends itself to training for competition,” he says.

Youfit, which currently has 32 centers open primarily in Florida and Arizona, is also making waves for its low-carbon footprint design. The floors are made of recycled tires or Nike “grind” — otherwise known as old sneakers. In addition to the equipment and space constraints that would hinder serious bodybuilders, Berks says most of his members would not join other types of clubs.

“The whole idea behind the bright, distinctive colors is to make Youfit a non-intimidating environment,” he says. “Part of the reason I got into this is because I used to hear people say they had to lose weight or look good to belong to a gym — we wanted to change that, make it more inviting and change that perception to provide a place for everyone to work out.”

Youfit features a 30-minute express circuit, full body work out for members who are short on time.

Each cardio machine has its own television and iPod connectors. Berks says his members realize looking around that they are at Youfit for fitness, and that is no accident.

“That’s entirely by design,” he says.

And because he wanted to make it affordable, Berks eliminated things usually found at large health clubs in favor of more equipment.

“We eliminated the amenities that people don’t usually use so we can offer a lower price point,” says Berks. “For example, more than 90 percent of gym members never use the swimming pool or basketball court and those extra amenities that are more of a country club approach.”

A month-to-month Youfit membership costs $10 per month with a $1 down payment for unlimited use of the club and a T-shirt. Youfit fees Lime Card Membership includes to all Youfit locations, unlimited guest privileges, a Youfit T-shirt and drinks at half price.

The fee for the Lime Card membership is $19.99 monthly.

Youfit does impose an annual fee of $29.99 for both month-to-month and Lime Card memberships.

“The $10 a month is full use of the facilities with only a month-to-month membership agreement that you can cancel anytime,” says Berks. “We don’t lock people into long-term agreements because we don’t need to.”

Another benefit to having an approachable price point for Berks is having a different kind of staff.

“We don’t have salespeople or even commissioned salespeople and at our price point we don’t really need it because we are a top-of-the-line club with a reasonable price,” he says. “We subcontract personal training and those trainers are under our guidelines and price point from $15 to $30 with everything is geared to the member’s satisfaction.”

The Naples Youfit Health Club has opened, but in accordance with Berks’ mantra of simplicity, he will not have a grand opening party.

“We will have a soft opening because we don’t typically do grand openings — we’ve registered 1,000 people already to work out at the gym,” he says.

© 2011 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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