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The Fitness Bunker – Lakewood’s newest 24-hour gym – may have only opened a month ago, but according to co-owners Laurie Shults and Salvatore Rachuna, it’s a project they have spitballed for nearly 15 years.
The gym, located on 9 W. Summit St., blends Shults’s lifestyle and wellness interests with Rachuna’s fitness and training expertise. The facility features a full cardio section, weights, a shower room, and an array of classes, including a popular Green Zone class that offers a high-intensity workout while monitoring body statistics on an integrated television. The Fitness Bunker is also the new home for Lakewood Nutrition, which means it’s easy to grab a protein shake post-workout.
According to Shults, the pair first got the idea for this kind of one-stop shop gym over a decade ago, when she was working as a police officer in Raleigh, NC and Rachuna was working as a personal trainer in Jamestown.
“We didn’t even know each other,” she said. “I was changing careers, and I was thinking about how I could take my love of fitness and turn it into a job. He was training my mom in my hometown at the time. She linked us together, but it never really got momentum.”
For a while, Shults and Rachuna emailed back and forth about their dream of opening a fitness center, but the idea fizzled over the years. Then, a year and a half ago, the pair met for the first time when Rachuna toured a potential gym facility. With that meeting, the wheels for opening a gym were suddenly set back in motion.
“Tore actually came to look at this facility with my mom, and I joined her that day,” Shults said. “We kind of started talking again.”
Now, an idea that once existed only in an email chain is a very real operation. The co-owners have worked hard to ensure that the Fitness Bunker is a unique gym amongst all the different fitness centers in Chautauqua County. Perhaps the most distinctive feature about the gym is its strong connection with the surrounding community and its desire to promote other local businesses.
“We’re a tight-knit community here inside the village of Lakewood,” Rachuna said. “There’s a lot of mom-and-pop stores around here; there’s not the big corporate places that you run into on Fairmount. So when you join us as a locally owned gym, the money stays local, too.”
In an effort to promote area businesses, Shults and Rachuna have introduced a key tag program for their members. Not only does the key tag give members access to the gym 24 hours a day, it can also be displayed at local businesses to receive discounted products and services. Examples include discounts at Lakewood Apothecary, Bag and String Wine Merchants, and Shults’s own second business, Brick Elephant Design. Several local restaurants have also included healthy new meals on their menus in collaboration with the Fitness Bunker.
“There are features like the Lakewood Diner’s ‘Bunker Breakfast’ for people trying to guide themselves to a better choice,” Shults said. “Are we saying don’t ever get the cheeseburger? No, of course not, but these meals help if you’re looking for a little extra nutrition guidance.”
Besides building stronger community ties, being locally owned is an advantage for the Fitness Bunker because it provides greater flexibility and accommodation for its members.
“We can help our members because we don’t have to adhere to rules from a big corporate overhead,” Rachuna said. “We can also customize a lot of our membership rates based on members’ needs and hours of availability.”
For more information on membership rates, class offerings, and the new Fitness Bunker facility, visit the gym’s Facebook page or reach Shults and Rachuna at 526-4031. Interested in testing out an exercise class before you commit? Mention this article and receive your first class free.
The Jamestown Gazette is proud to recognize our dealers, outstanding corporate citizens of our county. This week, the Gazette especially thanks The Fitness Bunker for the faithfully carrying The Jamestown Gazette, The People’s Paper, for the benefit of their customers, our readers.