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New Exclusive Gym Only Welcomes Overweight Customers

Update Date: May 20, 2013 04:02 PM EDT

People looking to stay fit or lose just a few pounds will be turned away from Downtown Fitness, a new gym club located in Chicago, IL and Dallas, TX. According to the rules in each respective city, Downtown Fitness only admits overweight people who have at least 50 pounds to lose. In order to administer this rule, the employees weigh every potential customer to make sure that the person can in fact lose 50 pounds and remain in the healthy weight range.

This new and exclusive rule was introduced by the club's founder, Francis Wisniewski. Wisniewski, a hedge fund manager, thought up of this kind of gym after realizing that he avoided regular gyms due to the fact that other fit men and women could be intimidating, and thus, discouraging. Wisniewski, 39-years-old, used to weigh 360 pounds, and stated that he was "embarrassed" about how he used to look, particularly at a gym with "women in tight clothing, running five-minute miles." After getting a personal trainer, Wisniewski was able to lose weight through work out regimes that fit his body type.

In 2011, Wisniewski opened the first gym in Chicago and then another one in Dallas in late 2012. The gym, which costs $250 per month under the six-month contract, follows a similar set up as the popular reality television show, "The Biggest Loser," where he got some of his inspiration. Downtown Fitness provides personal training along with nutritional counseling that are both limited to small groups of three to six at a time to ensure that individuals get the help they need and are not lost in a huge group. Some of the trainers were once obese and thus, they know the best way to lose weight for people who are heavier. Furthermore, other incentives are placed to help people stay motivated. For example, the gym offers a competition with a prize of $25,000. Aside from this, trainers and gym employees will call or text to check up on customers that might be skipping a few classes.

Several members have praised the gym for creating a supportive atmosphere since every one is there to lose a significant amount of weight. The small classes create a sense of a family, like the show, and help people stay motivated. Due to the obesity pandemic, this new kind of gym, which has been slowly popping up throughout the nation, could help with the fight against obesity.  

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