Fitness center gets new owner – and new philosophy

Kent Women’s Spa & Fitness Center last month saw a spike in its testosterone levels for the first time in two decades.

Brad Eller

Goes co-ed, renovations planned

Kent Women’s Spa & Fitness Center last month saw a spike in its testosterone levels for the first time in two decades.

Located at 841 Central Ave. N. in Kent, the local gym became Vision Quest Sport & Fitness April 1, making the transition from its longtime, all-women’s theme and inviting men to join its ranks.

Previous owner Mary Guthmiller brought the gym back to life four years ago after seeing it go out of business, and she has helmed it ever since. She offered spa services and cosmetic products to the female members during her time as owner, and she said the recent sale to Brad Swartz, owner of a gym business called Vision Quest, includes a contract that keeps her spa business intact. Guthmiller also owns Kent-based Transtech Electric, Inc., an electrical-contracting company.

“Late last fall, I decided that I wanted to step away from the health-club part and really focus on the spa part,” Guthmiller said. “I had the background in spa products, but I don’t quite have the fitness expertise Brad does.”

Swartz has been in the fitness business for 30 years, he said, and opened the first Vision Quest Sport & Fitness facility at the Auburn SuperMall five years ago. He said the expansion to Kent made sense, and he was happy to work with Guthmiller.

“We’ve been in the Auburn location for the last five years, and it makes sense for us to have a Kent facility so we can service our Kent members,” Swartz said. “We wanted to keep Mary and her daughter, Danielle, on because they’ve been really excellent leaders. They’ve been just great for the club.”

Guthmiller will sub-lease part of the facility to run her spa, eventually expanding the now-separate company to the Auburn Vision Quest location as well.

“I think this is a win-win for everybody,” she said. “For me and Brad and the community.”

Some of the all-women members of the center were unhappy about the shift to a co-ed format, Guthmiller admitted, but most were OK with the change. They have a lot of improvements to look forward to, she added.

Swartz has already begun a $1 million-renovation to the fitness facility, including the addition of a private, women’s-only area on the second floor.

“We are planning on totally redoing the whole gym,” said Fitness Director Brad Eller. “We’re making it really up-to-date and beautiful. We’re repainting, putting in new flooring, and we’ll have a brand new line of aerobic equipment, resistance-training equipment, everything.”

Eller said the current facilities and equipment are significantly outdated. The renovations should be complete within six months.

Past members won’t have to change their schedules much, either, Eller said. The group-fitness classes will remain much the same.

“We’ve made very, very few changes with the class schedule,” he said. “That’s one thing that’s been big with the members. All of the group fitness instructors have stayed on, too, so we have all the same classes.”

Swartz said Vision Quest will offer several membership specials to encourage continued membership and bring in new patrons. Until June, any woman who was a member of the center at any time in its long history can rejoin for no enrollment cost. And all current members will receive a free, private training session once a month for the rest of their membership.

Memberships are good at the Vision Quest facilities in Kent and Auburn, Swartz said.

Vision Quest is now open to children, too, in contrast to the center’s previous policy. For a fee, members can now bring in children ages 10 and up. Swartz said the new policy seems to be a success.

“It’s going absolutely phenomenal,” he said. “All the wives are now bringing in their husbands and their children.”

In addition to renovations and policy changes, the new owner said he hopes to add chiropractic care to the facility in the future, making it what he called a “one-stop shop.” And he said he plans to keep the longtime business in the community for many years to come.

“I just signed a 10-year lease, so we’re here for at least 10 years,” Swartz said. “We’re in for the long haul.”

For more information

Vision Quest Sport & Fitness

Formerly Kent Women’s Spa & Fitness, located at 841 Central Ave. N. Suite 115 in Kent.

The facility is now accepting new members, and is now a co-ed facility.

For more information, call 253-852-0747.

Contact Daniel Mooney at 253-437-6012 or dmooney@reporternewspapers.com.

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