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Fitness center closes, to reopen as bakery

August 09, 1997

By VANDANA SINHA

Staff Writer

The 300-member J&J Health and Fitness Center on Dual Highway officially closed Friday and will reopen primarily as a health food deli and bakery by Wednesday, co-owner and local nutritionist Jeanne Rhodes said.

When she and her husband John found themselves working close to 14 hours a day, seven days a week for J&J Health Enterprises, the umbrella corporation that encompasses the fitness center and The Preventive Health Institute on Cleveland Avenue, they decided to downsize, Jeanne Rhodes said.

"We felt like we couldn't do a good job with the fitness center and deli/bakery," she said.

The couple decided to expand their nearly 5-year-old deli after public demand for its low-fat, low-sugar and fat-free meals, drinks and desserts skyrocketed.

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They created Heart Smart Deli & Bakery, which specializes in sit-down, delivery and catered health food that Jeanne Rhodes promises is "very delicious" and still under 5 grams of fat.

Behind the new deli on 977 West Mount Aetna Road will be a renovated fitness area considerably smaller than its predecessor and offering only step aerobics, circuit training, self-defense courses and ballroom dancing lessons, she said.

As for the old fitness center's members, "They were very disappointed. This was a close family type of fitness center. But they knew the kind of hours we were spending," Jeanne said.

She said she and her husband ensured their customers' remaining contracts were honored at Fitness Priority Inc. in Hagerstown.

"We knew we had to do something for us, and the members understood," she said. "It was very amicable."

For information, residents can call The Preventive Health Center at 301-739-8870 and Heart Smart Deli & Bakery directly at 301-797-4700 after Wednesday.

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