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The Trim Gym Grows with Jonesboro
by Audrey Hanes, photography by Melissa Donner

For more than four decades, The Trim Gym Health and Fitness Club has been growing and updating its facilities to accommodate its loyal and ever-increasing clientele. The Brown family, who took over Jonesboro’s oldest private fitness facility in 1991, love doing all they can to provide Jonesboro with a family-friendly facility that is one of the largest in the state, including a recent 65,000-square-foot addition and extensive updates throughout the building.

Steve and Cathy Smith first built The Trim Gym in the mid-‘70s; it was a ladies facility that started out in a shopping center near Arkansas State University’s campus. In 1981, the Smiths broke ground at The Trim Gym’s current location on Race Street, and the facility has continued to expand ever since. The current longtime owners, Al and Doris Brown and their son, Scott, have been a part of The Trim Gym for as long as Scott can remember.

“My mother was a manager and taught aerobics for (the Smiths), and in the early ‘80s, they built the indoor tennis facility,” said Scott. “Our family owned the pro shop part of it, and after about a year, we started leasing and running the tennis center part of it. We bought The Trim Gym in 1991 and merged it into one club. I started off as a racket stringer when I was 12 years old, and I’ve been up here ever since, whether it was for the previous owners or our family.”

These days, although Al and Doris are retired, Scott says they’re still very much a part the facility.

“They might be retired, but they’re still involved with The Trim Gym,” said Scott. “My dad does bookkeeping, and they’re very hands-on. It wouldn’t be The Trim Gym without my parents. … One of the coolest things about this job is that I love working with my dad. We get along well, and I’ve learned so much from him.”

Scott says The Trim Gym’s staff and customers are like family, too. He credits the leadership of General Manager Drew Harrell, Tennis Director and longtime pro Alex Rivas, CrossFit Director Chris Rich and aerobics instructor and personal trainer Mallarie Blackford with making the fitness facility successful on a daily basis, in addition to very experienced personal trainers like Barry Callahan, who has been at The Trim Gym for more than 20 years.

“They’re all just really good at what they do,” he said. “We don’t have a lot of turnover, especially in the management positions. I enjoy working with each and every one. I grew up in this building. I’ve always had staff I enjoy working with, and I’ve always had really great customers who appreciate what we are doing up here.

“Being around as long as we have, we have some customers who have been coming to this location since it opened 37 years ago. We are seeing kids who weren’t even born yet now bringing their own kids up here. I have a 21-year-old now, and I started off when I was 12. It’s neat seeing that third generation coming in now.”

Those loyal customers are the reason that the Browns are continually updating and adding to The Trim Gym. Scott says that they have continued to add square-footage to the facility to keep up with Jonesboro’s growing population.

“We are always knocking a wall down or making the place better for everybody; I think we proved that with this most recent big expansion,” said Scott. “We are really proud that we can offer Jonesboro a facility of this size for this price.”

The Three Oaks Racquet Club addition in 1986 was the first of many. In 1997, the Browns added 17,000 square feet of space that included a basketball court, weight room and small track, and in 1998, The Trim Gym was the first fitness center in Jonesboro to bring spinning to its members. In 2011, the Browns redid the pool and added the yoga and daycare facilities.

After buying a large plot of adjoining land and getting plans approved, The Trim Gym broke ground for its most recent expansion in the summer of 2016.

“The expansion alone was bigger than the original Trim Gym,” said Scott. “We just wanted more space.

“We built on the new weight room by taking over the front three tennis courts. We put in two new full basketball courts; the old court is still used for other sports. We updated the cardio area, and our new track is much larger – six laps to a mile – with a better view. We also moved our CrossFit area into this facility since it was previously in a building across the street, and we built a new ladies weight room. We have always had one, but this one is improved and larger. Since we started out as a ladies’ club, we still like to have that atmosphere for those who want it.”

The year-long project was completed in the summer of 2017 and is currently being enjoyed by The Trim Gym’s members. But although the expansion is complete, the facility continues to undergo many updates and improvements.

Scott says that The Trim Gym is redoing the remaining three tennis courts this month, and shortly after, they will add several new courts to replace the three that were used for the expansion. There are also plans to add a women’s steam room and redo the women’s sauna and locker room, along with several other areas in the facility in the near future. Outdoor pickleball courts are slated for 2019, as well.

“We have cut and chopped this place so much in 30 years,” said Scott. “We are at 180,000 square feet, which makes us one of the largest facilities in the state. Anyone who does this as a lifestyle, especially families, would want to graduate to a facility like this – it’s so much beyond a typical weight and treadmill facility.”

The Trim Gym’s current classes include Cardio Splash, Iron Pump, Zumba, Chair Yoga, Mat Pilates, Silver Strong, Strong – by Zumba, Spin and Hot Yoga. Other offerings include personal training, CrossFit 870, Three Oaks Racquet Club, childcare, a smoothie bar, tanning and more.

“We are really proud of our weight room; it’s one of the largest in the state,” said Scott. “We have more than 25,000 square feet of just weight space. We also have more than 100 pieces of cardio and five aerobics studios. We try to have something for everyone.”

Scott says he and his family truly appreciate the support of the Jonesboro community throughout their many years in business. In turn, they try to support other businesses and help local teams whenever they have a chance.

“We are very pro small business,” said Scott. “We are proud that we aren’t a franchise. This makes us different from other cities. It’s good to have variety. We work with public schools with their tennis and swim teams – whatever they need us to do. Jonesboro is so important to us.

“… The expansion was a really big deal for us. As big as we are, we are still a simple health club. Our biggest thing is getting families in here and making sure they enjoy themselves.”

As for his own family, Scott says they are keeping the tradition alive. His oldest daughter, now 21 years old, worked at The Trim Gym before going to college and still works when she is home, and his youngest daughter, a junior in high school, has plans to work at the facility, too.

For more information about The Trim Gym, located at 196 Race Street, call (870) 932-0140 or visit thetrimgym.com. The Trim Gym is open Monday through Thursday from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 8 p.m.; 24-hour access is also available.