WINSTON — Usually when a business moves from location to location in just a few years, it’s a sign that things aren’t going so well. The opposite is true for Pacific Fitness in Winston, which is about to embark on its fourth move since it opened in 2011.
Rather than a sign of distress, the moves were made necessary by a continued growth in customers drawn by top-of-the-line equipment, certified instructors and a business formula that owners Brandi and Leo Voepel say is based on treating everyone like family.
“Both of us have a passion for fitness and helping others improve their lives and health through fitness,” Brandi Voepel said. “What’s so amazing about fitness is the wide range of things that simple exercise can improve, and actually very quickly, when you compare it to how long it takes to get unhealthy.”
All of the Pacific Fitness moves have been in the Winston area. And while this one is the shortest move — literally across the street — it’s also an expansion and feels different from the others, the couple said.
First there is the fire. The location of the new gym at the corner of Southwest Oak and Main streets had been occupied by A P Motorsports auto repair shop. But in March a fire gutted the building.
A few days later, the owner approached the Voepels and asked if they would be interested in buying the property. The couple said yes.
“We were looking for a new space for three years.” Brandi Voepel said. ”There’s not a whole lot of available space here in Winston.”
The Voepels are both from Oregon — Leo grew up in Albany and Brandi in Roseburg. Before he opened Pacific Fitness in 2011, Leo worked as a caregiver. Brandi owned the Tiki Tanning salon in Winston and joined Leo’s gym in 2012. They started dating and eventually got married.
The couple have turned fitness into a hobby, a lifestyle and a successful business. They travel across the country visiting various gyms — nearly 1,000 by their count — and trying out the newest equipment. They often travel in their RV, which has a tow package that can haul back whatever they buy.
And buy they do. The Voepels have two RV storage units full of equipment, and it’s not cheap. A treadmill can run $7,000, for example, and the couple has five in the gym and four more in storage.
“I might be an equipment hoarder,” Leo Voepel said, half-joking. “If we find a piece of equipment we like we start hunting it down.”
Pacific Fitness moved into its current location at 10 Oak St. in 2014. The building had housed a number of businesses over the years — flower shop, auto parts shop, pawn shop and auto body shop among them — and it showed. The place took three months to clean before they could move in, Brandi Voepel said.
“When we started, it looked like a really dirty Easter egg,” she said.
The current gym covers about 4,000 square feet and is filled with equipment. The space is broken down into various rooms based on the type of workout desired — cardio, upper body, legs, group fitness and so on. There are also a variety of classes offered, including step, spin, total body and PAC Fit.
Pacific Fitness is open 24 hours and uses face recognition technology to make sure those entering the facility have permission to do so.
One of the gym’s most dedicated customers is Barbara Schreckenghaust, who at age 78 figures she’s also one of the oldest members.
Schreckenghaust moved to Winston last November and has been going to the gym faithfully since January. Her sister, who just turned 68, also is a member. Schreckenghaust takes a variety of classes, including PAC Fit and full body workouts, and goes twice on Monday, twice on Wednesday and once on Friday. She also squeezes in stretching at the gym on other days.
“We like taking the classes and we like the people. Brandi and Leo are so helpful,” Schreckenghaust said.
Will she keep up this pace when the new building opens?
“Absolutely,” she said. “At my age you don’t give it up.”
Space in the current gym is getting tight, which is why the Voepels are excited to be expanding across the street. That two-story building, which they hope to open before February, will give them an additional 6,800 square feet. They plan to keep the current gym open and remodel it.
“We have a large arsenal of equipment just waiting to go into the new gym and we are super anxious to finally get to use it,” Brandi Voepel said.
In addition to the equipment, the new building will provide several unique amenities, including four private bathrooms with showers and a children’s play area, where adults can work out and keep an eye on their children.
The Voepels are also looking at adding one amenity which they acknowledge is a bit iffy — an outdoor running track that would wrap around the building off the ground.
“It’s just like any other business, you have to keep improving,” Leo Voepel said. “If you don’t change with the times you get stagnant.”