Eight years in the fitness industry is an eternity. Just ask East Valley resident Kathy Beamer, who has watched other gyms in her neighborhood go up, change hands, and come down.
"The idea is to build relationships here," Beamer said Friday. "I think one of the reasons we have been successful is that we really have a niche - someone can come in here and be comfortable regardless of their condition."
Beamer is the owner of Custom Fit, a personal training studio in Johnson Lane, which just celebrated its eighth anniversary.
"People come here to make relationships with other people," she said. "They hold each other up."
Beamer, now 54, remembers the first fitness class she ever taught - an aerobics class at a Bay Area YMCA in 1980. At the time, she was participating in a corporate wellness program as an employee of computer pioneer Control Data Corporation. It was during this period that Beamer was able to watch people "drop in and out" and struggle with their exercise regiment.
"That was a pretty pivotal thing for me," she said. "I found out I was pretty good at it (teaching)."
Beamer continued teaching part-time throughout her 15-year career in information technology. But she eventually decided to follow her passion and go back to school.
In 1994, she earned a degree in health and gerontology from San Jose State University. A year later, she and her husband Bruce relocated to Carson Valley.
"I work mostly with the geriatric population, so we wanted a place that was still close to our families, but had an affluent older population that could use my services," she said.
Beamer was no stranger to the Silver State. She actually was born in Lovelock, and her grandparents had a ranch in Yerington. For the first eight years of her new career in Nevada, she worked in a clinical environment, directing aerobics and working as a physical therapy technician.
In the summer of 2003, she scouted out a location for her own small business.
"I just wanted the freedom to make choices for my clients," she said.
The 1,600-square-foot suite Beamer found off Annie Court became the home of Custom Fit, and remains so to this day.
"Some of my clients have been with me for 15 years," she said. "Some people are not self-motivated and need to have that accountability. Part of our relationship is that accountability."
About 70 percent of Beamer's clientele is elderly. She works with a variety of ailments, from lupus and multiple sclerosis, to rheumatoid arthritis and chronic lower back pain.
But she also works with young athletes and every age in between. As a competitive runner for 25 years, she has first-hand knowledge of sports training.
"My youngest clients are 11 and 14, and my oldest client will turn 102 next week," she said. "We get a lot of referrals from physicians and physical therapists. They trust sending their patients here. There's that community trust.
"I have to train people for what their needs are, and I push them at times, but I also recognize legitimate limitations."
Compared to loud and glaring gyms, Custom Fit is relatively quiet and cozy. There are five cardio machines, two reformers, TRX suspension cables, weights, balls and mats of all kind.
As a member of the Exercise is Medicine Network, Beamer believes that good fitness is preventative. That's why she hosts weekly classes, including yoga, Pilates, and Tai Chi.
"During the recession, we lost a lot of aesthetic business - people trying to get ready for a high school reunion or wedding," she said. "Our vanity work went away, but our clinical work has been pretty consistent. Because prevention is cheaper than medical treatment."
The community vibe of Annie Court only helps Beamer's business model. Many of her regulars frequent Cafe del Sol, which is located in the same complex. Across the street stands another building loaded with businesses, contacts and potential customers. The neighborhood dog, Buster, goes from door to door each day.
"Sometimes with longevity, your customers risk alienating new customers," Beamer said. "That's not the case here. Everyone is very welcoming. They invite you in and then go for coffee afterwards. It's very much a fellowship rather than a workout."
Custom Fit is located at 1166 Annie Court, Suite A, Minden. Facility hours are 8 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Thursday, and 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday.
For more information, call 267-3559 or visit www.customfitnv.com.