Inches-a-weigh tackles age-old problem

Inches-a-weigh tackles age-old problem

Davis, Rick

In Mike and Stella Lewis’ world of fitness and nutrition, success is touted as a game of inches – even though occasional leaps and bounds are fine because it’s a way to bum off additional calories.

In their business, as owners of the Coachella Valley outlet of InchesA-Weigh, shedding 10 or 20 pounds of excess baggage involves more than cutting out desserts and snacking between meals. It’s really a lifestyle change, especially if one is to succeed in avoiding the socalled “yo-yo syndrome,” that is, keeping the weight off.

“There are all kinds of programs in which you maintain certain diets, eating this and not eating that, in order to lose weight,” said Mike Lewis. “Some of them claim to have magic pills. But I think we have the only program specifically designed to incorporate nutrition, exercise and body sculpting into a lifestyle. The concept, if followed, will give you long-term success. You don’t gain back the weight. And you remain a healthier person.”

And while they’re sold on the product, the small-business world represents a significant change for the Lewises, who both had 30-year careers in the electronics industry. They moved from San Diego to Palm Desert a year ago, then opened Inches-A-Weigh earlier this month.

Inside their facility at the Palms to Pines Shopping Center in Palm Desert, the environment is still taking shape. The assortment of equipment in one room includes isometric machines, elliptical trainers, treadmills and stationary bicycles. A juice bar and offices occupy other areas while finishing touches such as wall artwork loom as coming attractions.

“We’ve got about 20 clients now, but our goal after one year is 300,” said Mike. “Our marketing involves newspaper advertising, direct mailings and TV commercials.”

Inches-A-Weigh was founded 19 years ago by Scott Simcik, a former University of Alabama scholarship athlete who envisioned a need nationwide for a new brand of fitness centers that catered to the deconditioned woman in the 40-to-70 age range.

“About 90 percent of that market is untapped in terms of health, nutrition and fitness,” Simcik states on the company Web site. “That market has requirements that can’t be met at the large health clubs and [aerobic] studios. These women are shy and resistant to a competitive atmosphere.”

And in the company’s three-phase program, clients are shown “what to do, how to do it and where to do it.”

Lewis outlined the phases:

* In the first phase, a lifestyle consultant offers one-on-one counseling, behavior modification lessons and motivational pitches. This phase also covers information on low-fat nutritional snacks, vitamins and supplements (supplied by Inches-A-Weigh for the first month).

* The second phase utilizes figure-shaping equipment to zero in on reshaping and redeveloping the body – especially in the problem areas of the upper back, thighs, upper arms, hips, waist and stomach.

* The third phase concentrates on a graduated scale of strenuous exercise with increased cardiovascular activities. It involves aerobics that accelerate metabolism, burn calories and condition muscle groups and the heart.

“It’s the package instead of just part of it,” said Lewis, a lifelong fitness enthusiast who ran several marathons and completed a halfironman triathlon in his 30s. “The program is set up so if a client follows the diet and nutrition guidelines and does the work, we guarantee healthy, sensible weight loss.”

A program brochure suggests that weight loss of 1 1/2 to-2 pounds weekly is realistic, partly because clients are held accountable.

“We want to see them and get weigh-ins four times a week at first, then three times a week after that,” said Lewis. “If you monitor their progress, it’s built-in motivation.”

Lewis said the cost of the program varies from $29 to $49 a week, depending on a client’s weight-loss goal and number of sessions attended.

Simcik figures the demand for such programs will grow as the BabyBoomer generation gets closer to retirement age. He subscribes to the theory that the generation responsible for the explosion in the healthfoods and exercise industries wants to age gracefully by staying fit, active and losing some weight.

“We’re pitching a lifestyle center,” said Lewis. “Twice the value at half the price [of joining a diet center and a health club].”

Inches-A-Weigh’s Web site also notes an estimated 50 million Americans are dieting at any given time and 90 percent of them are women.

“We can fill requirements they have that health clubs and studios can’t,” Simcik told one publication. “There’s no reason we can’t become the Gold’s Gym for older women.”

Copyright Desert Publication, Inc. and Sharon Apfelbaum Jun 28, 2005

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