GREENVILLE – A local couple living in Chicago had dreams of moving back to the Greenville area to be closer to family and to open a fitness center for members of the community.
Alan and Gloria Guilfoyle’s dream came true despite discouragement from other businesses rumored to be closing.
They opened The Club Fitness Center in August 1986 and recently celebrated the business’ 25th anniversary under their ownership.
“We envisioned a large club, but never dreamed it would be this successful,” Alan said. “Twenty-five years has gone by in a blink of an eye.”
The Club was first located in the former Vogue Furniture store in downtown Greenville and occupied about 3,000 square feet. It included shower rooms, aerobics, one line of Nautilus home fitness equipment, an area for free weights, two Airdyne bikes, two tanning booths and eventually a StairMaster.
Around 1993, the Guilfoyles bought the former Greenville Office Products store to double in size to 6,000 square feet. The new facility allowed for more Nautilus equipment, treadmills and another StairMaster.
The Guilfoyles bought property behind Kmart to expand once more in the late 1990s, but they ran into trouble involving the driveway. So they sold the property and bought land for their present location at 1401 W. Oak St. in Greenville.
The Club Fitness center now occupies 15,000 square feet and offers aerobic classes, child care, personal training, a pool and spa.
“It’s a wonderful business to be in,” Gloria said.
The Guilfoyles credit their members, planning and adapting to trends for surviving 25 years. They operate on five-year plans to plot the fitness center’s growth and maintenance.
“Every five years, we sit down and make a plan on where we want to be in five years,” Alan said.
The Guilfoyles have stayed ahead of changing trends in fitness. One change is fitness apparel, going from tight spandex outfits to regular clothes like shorts and a T-shirts.
They also work hard to keep people motivated for physical fitness. Gloria is always on the lookout for new ideas and exercises to keep people interested.
“People used to go to the gym for fun,” Alan Guilfoyle said. “Now people go to the gym because it’s important.”
Mary Fitzner and Dave Harris, two of the Guilfoyles’ employees, have been with The Club since the beginning.
“This is my dream job,” Harris said. “It is something I always wanted to do.”
He credits the members for keeping The Club viable for 25 years.
“The people have been really good to us over the years,” Harris said. “They are amazing, fantastic and loyal.”
The Guilfoyles, who have an autistic child, someday hope to open a “safe, encouraging” place for autistic adults to live and play.
“We want to develop a center for autistic adults because there is a need for it,” Alan Guilfoyle said.