Contours Fitness Center in Mentor gives women a place that feels like home – News-Herald

Like many businesses affected by the pandemic, the Contours Fitness Center in Mentor has had to make adjustments.

Fortunately, these changes have turned out to be beneficial.

Before the 2020 state-ordered business closures, a once-robust roster of nearly 500 members at the all-women’s facility shrank by about 40 percent. Due to the lower numbers and lost sales, owner Monica Tatterson recently stated that she had no choice but to announce the gym would be closing in June.

Loyal members who have been training and socializing there for years were shocked and saddened
through the news.

Pressed by the group to somehow keep an open mind, Tatterson devised a downsizing strategy.

The fitness center, which originally occupied about two-thirds of its current space when it opened 16 years ago, is now scheduled to be reduced to its original, smaller size, resulting in more affordable operating costs for Tatterson.

She had expanded the gym a few years ago when a growing membership required additional space.

Those who were disappointed by the impending closure are rejoicing that the transition will happen. Among them is longtime member and mentor resident Pat Mazzolini.

“I really like coming here. I worried about Monica and my training future. I’m glad it’s resolved now,” she said, adding, “It’s been difficult during COVID. I missed it. My body missed it. I tried training at home but it wasn’t that good.”

Although open to women of all ages, membership is primarily made up of those aged 60 and over. Insurance policies often cover the cost, including Silver Sneakers, Renew Active, Optum Fitness, Silver & Fit, and Active & Fit.

Many members claim they enjoy the only all-women’s gym in Lake County because of a comfortable atmosphere that encourages exercising at an individual pace in the company of their peers.

Josie Lahr is a staff member and experienced fitness specialist who teaches some of the different classes offered at Contours. She attributes part of the gym’s popularity to its all-female component and “non-threatening” environment.

“The ladies just love this place,” she said, adding that many past members she’d called about rejoining had been grateful and receptive.

Exercise machines, free weights and various classes such as pound, zumba, chair yoga and more are available to help improve and maintain good health. Classes are open to members for $5 and non-members for $7.

Personal trainer Jillian Cole is available for those seeking one-on-one fitness sessions. Although some members have been slow to return to the gym, their clientele has not hesitated.

“Once the doors opened, I had almost all of them back within months,” she said.

Tatterson, whose husband Jason is a Pastor of the Freedom Assembly of God Church in Mentor, first started a Contours operation in Eastlake before opening the Mentor facility.

A cluttered work schedule convinced her that closing the Eastlake store would give her more time to focus on the only gym in Mentor, along with her duties as the church’s youth pastor.

The business owner noted that the challenges posed by the initial 2020 coronavirus outbreak have only become more formidable over time.

“People were slowly coming back as the second wave arrived over the 2021 holiday,” she said.

The long period people stayed away for fear of contagion prompted some to give up exercise habits or develop different exercise routines.

Losing membership and its adverse consequences have been difficult for Tatterson, but her optimism remains high.

“I feel proud. We did it,” she said.

Contours Express for Women is located at 6966 Heisley Road in Mentor.

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