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Published: Friday, 9/1/2006

Fitness center at One SeaGate leaves downtown for Perrysburg

BY GARY T. PAKULSKI
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER
Most treadmills are empty on the last day for the small gym in the basement of the office tower. 
Most treadmills are empty on the last day for the small gym in the basement of the office tower.
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Doug Pavelko won t stop working out over the lunch hour.

But instead of walking to a nearby gym from his downtown office, he ll hop into his car for a short jaunt to the Riverside YMCA on Toledo s near north side.

It will be a lot less convenient, lamented the 46-year-old patent lawyer, who was among those exercising yesterday afternoon on the last day of the Downtown Fitness Center in One SeaGate.

The closing of the small gym leaves downtown workers without a public facility within walking distance to pump iron and improve their cardiovascular health.

Peggy Dumas, who managed the 2,500-square-foot center for Harris HealthTrends Inc., said owners had no choice but to close after the loss of 85 percent of members with the move this month of Owens-Illinois Inc. s world headquarters to suburban Perrysburg.

Trainer Kim Collins watches as Ted Gillespie prepares for part of his routine. He plans to transfer to the Riverside Y.
Trainer Kim Collins watches as Ted Gillespie prepares for part of his routine. He plans to transfer to the Riverside Y.
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She and Harris HealthTrends will head out to O-I s new offices in Levis Commons, where they will manage a fitness center that will be open to company employees only.

Downtown Fitness Center, which was in a remote area of a basement of Toledo s signature office tower, began as an O-I-operated facility but in a company downsizing in the late 1980s was sold to private interests.

It went through tough times. But in recent years the gym, which was known for personalized service and a friendly atmosphere, had 150 to 200 members, Ms. Dumas said.

Most members worked out or took aerobics classes before work or during the lunch hour, although the center was open until 6:30 p.m.

Because of the remote location, the manager said she doubts if many people knew it existed.

In the last 20 years, we were downtown Toledo s hidden secret, she added.

Members paid about $33 a month and weren t required to sign long-term contracts, she said.

I m devastated, member Holly Sydlow, a lawyer in the U.S. attorney s office, said of the closing. Downtown Fitness was more like a boutique fitness center versus a big box.

Ted Gillespie, a 12-year member, will transfer to the Riverside Y on Summit Street without much trouble because he works out over the noon hour and parks close to his downtown office.

But for most people it takes five to 10 minutes each way to get to their car, the attorney added.

The Y isn t an option for them. It s really good to have a facility downtown workers can walk to. It adds to the quality of life. Working out is a stress reliever, And there is a lot of stress on the job today.

At least two downtown corporations, Owens Corning and Manor Care Inc., operate fitness centers for employees and certain others, but they aren t open to the public.

Real estate agent Nancy Lehmann said owners of One SeaGate are focused on filling vacancies created by O-I s departure.

Once that is accomplished, they will likely look into adding a fitness center, she added.

Contact Gary Pakulski at: gpakulski@theblade.com or 419-724-6082.



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