The people you meet at Forever Fit Health Club

Some say they come to train for their next marathon. Others say they’re there to get back in shape after having kids. Others still cite a doctor’s orders requiring them to just get moving again after a debilitating illness or injury.

People of all ages, backgrounds and fitness levels come to Forever Fit Health Club, a small “boutique” gym nestled in suburban Centerport. Stepping into the gym is something like biting into a warm and gooey homemade chocolate chip cookie (without the added calories): You immediately feel warm and fuzzy inside.

That’s because, though modest in size, Forever Fit Health Club is big on building community. And that was its intended purpose, says Cathy Stratton, 59, co-owner and resident nutrition expert of Forever Fit Health Club, which she runs with her business partner, Helene Atkinson, a 52-year-old real estate agent living in Huntington.

“I wanted this gym to be more than just a place for people to work out,” said Stratton, a fitness instructor, personal trainer, and nutrition expert who resides in nearby Greenlawn. “I wanted it to be a place for people to come together; where our staff and members could build relationships, friendships and trust.”

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PHOTO CREDIT: ERICA CIRINO

Most Saturdays, at precisely 9am, Forever Fit Health Club staff member Joce Dominique, a 28-year-old former SUNY Cortland football player from Deer Park currently studying nuclear medicine at Molloy College, meets for a personal training session with gym member, Emily Rogan, 49, a freelance writer and editor, mother of two teenagers, wife, and long-distance runner from Huntington.

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PHOTO CREDIT: ERICA CIRINO

Jeannie Tomlinson, 43, a Forever Fit Health Club staff member since 2002, mother of three boys, wife and avid runner, squeezes in  a few miles on the treadmill after teaching a Saturday morning TRX class in preparation for her upcoming half marathon, the New York City Half, on Sunday, March 15. Tomlinson teaches four or more classes at the gym each week in addition to personal training with gym members, and her own training.

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PHOTO CREDIT: ERICA CIRINO

“I tried the 8-week winter TRX program–Jeannie’s class,” said Karl Scheuerman, a 47-year-old attorney living in Centerport, father of two and husband who recently took up running as a serious hobby. “It’s tough. But I like a challenge.”

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PHOTO CREDIT: ERICA CIRINO

Forever Fit Health Club is at a big advantage over larger “big-box” gyms, said Stratton, because of the personal attention she and her staff can afford their clientele in Forever Fit Health Club’s smaller, more intimate facility.

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PHOTO CREDIT: ERICA CIRINO

“Our members all have different strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes,” explained Stratton. “Here, our members are not just numbers; we like to make them feel as comfortable and as welcome as possible.”

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PHOTO CREDIT: ERICA CIRINO

“If I wasn’t busy working right now,” said John Fragos, a 24-year-old student from Holtsville studying athletic training at St. Joseph’s College in Patchogue, who began working desk duty at Forever Fit Health Club in January. “I’d be working out. But working here is great; I’m learning a lot.”

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PHOTO CREDIT: ERICA CIRINO

“I love my kids,” said Laura Pellicone, a 37-year-old mother of three young children and wife who lives in Centerport. “But, it feels good to escape for a while.”

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PHOTO CREDIT: ERICA CIRINO

“When kids are happy, their parents are happy.”” said Susan C. Napoli, a 58-year-old Forever Fit Health Club staff member who provides child care to gym members’ children while they are working out. “And as a mother who has raised two girls who are now in their twenties, I know a thing or two about making kids happy.”

“We love Susan!” said Liam Pellicone, 6, on behalf of his sister Avery, 4, and Lucas, 3 (not pictured).

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PHOTO CREDIT: ERICA CIRINO

“What if we are not breathing?” asked Marylou Krijnse Locker, 49-year-old yoga instructor and reiki master from Huntington, as she taught an evening yoga class at Forever Fit Health Club on a recent Thursday night, “What if it is the breath that is breathing each and every one of us?”

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PHOTO CREDIT: ERICA CIRINO

Forever Fit Health Club turned 23 years old in November, and with its latest birthday came a few changes: a new floor and paint job in the aerobics room, new equipment in the main weight room and new class offerings. Despite these changes, the gym’s original mission of building a community around a place is stronger than ever, said Stratton. “Some of our current members have been with us since the very beginning, and that’s very exciting,” she added.

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PHOTO CREDIT: ERICA CIRINO

“I’ve seen a significant improvement in my strength since beginning my personal sessions with Joce,” said Rogan of her weekly strength-training workouts with Dominique. “He pushes me. But in a good way.” Rogan is an avid runner who has completed two marathons, three half marathons, and a Tough Mudder, among other running competitions since her late twenties.

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PHOTO CREDIT: ERICA CIRINO
Greg Taha is an active 70-year-old husband and father who has run 10 marathons, 10 half-marathons, eight 10Ks, a 25K and countless shorter competitive runs since 1999.  He said he’s a regular at the Saturday morning indoor cycling class, which he attends “just to stay in shape.”

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