HERTFORD — Amy and Donnie Tinsley are invested in the fitness industry.
In January 2018, they opened Foundation Fitness at 220 Ocean Highway South in the shopping plaza off U.S. Highway 17 in Hertford.
From cardio machines to weight lifting equipment, the cozy 24-hour gym has what anyone interested in fitness needs.
The Tinsleys’ gym is one of a growing number of locally owned fitness centers in Perquimans, Camden, Chowan, Currituck and Pasquotank counties.
The expansion of fitness facilities in the area highlights the overall growth of the global fitness industry in recent years.
According to the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association — an organization that monitors and promotes growth in the health and fitness industry — the global fitness industry featured more than 200,000 facilities, 174 million members, and generated more than $87 billion in revenue.
The 2018 IHRSA Global Report also notes that the United States led the world in both fitness facilities and membership with just over 38,400 facilities and 60.9 million members.
Before the Tinsleys opened Foundation Fitness in Hertford, about the only local fitness center available to Perquimans residents — if they didn’t want to drive to Edenton or Elizabeth City — was the county senior center.
Previously there was a Curves — a fitness center for women — in the same plaza where Foundation Fitness is located.
Donnie Tinsley said once word spread of his and his wife’s fitness center, people started showing up and joining as members.
“Overall, it’s been well,” he said. “A lot of support from the community.”
The Tinsleys say focusing on other aspects of fitness, like proper nutrition, is as important as exercise.
“You need both aspects,” Amy Tinsley said.
She said Foundation Fitness works with members by showing them new exercises and giving them ideas on how to eat differently.
“Everybody has different needs,’’ Donnie said.
Besides operating their gym facility, both Tinsleys provide training in other aspects of fitness. Donnie teaches mixed martial arts classes in Elizabeth City and Hertford, while Amy instructs dance at The Dance Company in Hertford.
Amy said some parents will take their child to the dance studio, go over to Foundation Fitness for a workout, and then go back and pick up their kid from dance.
While their business has been good, Donnie says there is a need for additional fitness facilities in rural areas.
Both Tinsleys believe locally owned fitness centers provide more of a personal connection for their members than larger franchise fitness centers.
“When people come in — because we are a smaller gym and because we are locally owned and operated — a lot of the members we know by name and by face,” Donnie said. “We know what they are working on. There’s a personal touch and that’s where it’s more welcoming.”
“They know us personally, too,” Amy added. “They know our children. They see us in the community.”
Both Tinsleys said they like the personal connections they’ve been able to make with members of their fitness center. Their members include everyone from employees at Captain Bob’s Restaurant to students at Perquimans County High School.
The Tinsleys say staying involved in the community helps connect them with potential members for their fitness center.
“We try to do extra things in the community,” Amy said.
That includes Amy’s involvement in a 5K race two years ago that resulted in the proceeds going to the Perquimans County High School band.
Donnie noted that Foundation Fitness also assisted a student at Perquimans County High School who wants to be a fitness trainer and is taking college courses at College of The Albemarle.
He added that because of Foundation Fitness, the student is able to work out at a gym and get credit for her class.