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Finding value in working out

January 29, 2006|By CANDICE BOSELY

Sure, Jennifer Haupt was able to lose 25 pounds and go from a size 16 to a size eight by working out.

More importantly, though, the mother of two autistic boys and a new co-owner of Fitness Priority said, exercise enabled her to work better with her sons and allowed her to strengthen her relationship with her husband.

On Jan. 1, Haupt, 32, and co-owners Kevin Reynolds, Chris Grumbine and Henry Dudley officially took over ownership of Fitness Priority at 435 E. Baltimore St., near Municipal Stadium.


Before moving to Las Vegas, former Fitness Priority owner Phil Physioc II stayed for two weeks to help the new owners with the transition.

The gym features a wide array of workout equipment, including rowing machines, free weights, Nautilus equipment and Keiser air pressurized machines.

Two tanning beds are available and all members receive a customized workout plan, Haupt said.

Dealing with the stress

Ian, now 7 years old, was diagnosed as being autistic when he was 2 1/2 years old. Zach, now 6, was diagnosed as having autism when he was 18 months old.

'A double blow'

"I'd been a very positive, very easygoing (person who) had no problems with anything and then that happened. It was like a double blow," Haupt said.

With her children involved in numerous therapy programs, Haupt quit her job as an accountant.

Later, though, her aunt bought South Pointe, a fitness center in Hagerstown, and Haupt agreed to help her with her accounting needs.

There she met Reynolds, who three years ago recommended she begin an exercise program. She replied that she did not have the time.

He countered that it would simply require half an hour a day and said he would train her at no cost.

"He said working out will help you mentally," Haupt said. "It wasn't to lose weight or look better, it was to feel better."

Along with working out Reynolds also encouraged her to eat better.

"I started loving it," she said. "I started dealing with all the stress I had."

Ian would misbehave, acting out violently by pinching or biting. Keeping an autistic child happy requires being emotionless, Haupt said.

"Working out just made me deal with things and then I could deal with them (Ian and Zach) better," she said.

She also worked to improve her relationship with her husband. Sometimes being the parents of an autistic child can cause marriages to fall apart, Haupt said. She encouraged her husband to exercise with her and said their marriage has become stronger as a result.

Buying a gym

Haupt began discussing buying a gym after her aunt sold South Pointe and Haupt said she and the new owners did not "mesh."

She mentioned the idea to Physioc, who said he had been pondering selling Fitness Priority.

Now two of the new owners, Dudley and Grumbine, work full-time jobs outside of the gym, while Haupt and Reynolds work full-time at the gym.

All four are personal trainers.

Haupt said some items were removed from the walls of the gym and four aerobics classes were added, but otherwise the gym remains basically unchanged from the one Physioc opened more than a decade ago.

They are striving for a personal touch. Members are asked to sign in with the hope that employees will learn all of their names.

"I think the biggest selling point of our gym is we're laid-back, friendly. We want people to have fun," Haupt said.

The gym is open daily and offers a variety of membership and payment plans for individuals, couples and families. Special rates are available for senior citizens, students and for those in a corporate plan.

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