GRAVETTE -- A grand opening and ribbon cutting were held Saturday, Feb. 6, at the new location of The Gravette Gym. Area residents enjoyed tours of the gym, were treated to healthy snacks, including nuts, granola bars, lemonade and sports drinks, and were able to sign up for drawings.
Meredith Bramel, Melissa Provence and Denise Thurber won Gravette Gym one-month gym memberships and Nancy Langley won the grand prize of a year's gym membership. Several vendors had booths at the event, including representatives of the Gravette soccer league, Gravette High Fitness, Gravette Nutrition and Xyngular.
The gym, which has operated on downtown Main Street for over a decade, recently moved into the former Westfield Hardware building at 605 Main St. S.W., just across the street from the post office. Owners Les and Natanya Riddle have spent the last few months remodeling the building, converting much of the lighting to LED lights and installing new rubber flooring. They also expressed appreciation to Les' father, Don Riddle, who spent countless hours helping with the repairs and remodel work.
All the equipment from the downtown location was moved to the new building and over 25 new exercise machines were added after the move. A wide variety of exercise machines is available, including a rowing machine and several other cardio machines, strength training machines, and a large free weights section with a squat rack, which is especially popular.
Remodeling of the gym building included constructing several additional interior walls. A lobby area and office were created at the front of the building and three rooms were added at the rear. One room houses a tanning bed, and in another physical therapist Kim McDougal will offer wellness services, including massage.
Les and Natanya Riddle have managed The Gravette Gym for the last three years. The former owners, Springdale residents, wanted to close the gym three years ago and the Riddles stepped in to keep that from happening. Natanya said she and her husband feel it provides a valuable resource and Les convinced her they should buy the business and run it as a service to the community. They purchased the business in October 2020 from Thomas and Ashley (Donell) Little.
The 9,000-square-foot downstairs area in the former hardware building provides plenty of space for social distancing. Towels and bottles of hand sanitizer are provided throughout the building. Gym members are asked to clean and sanitize machines before and after each use so the gym is a safe place for all. The area provides plenty of space for additional exercise equipment and the Riddles already have plans for expansion. In the meantime, an aerobics class is being held in the large center area. The aerobics class is held Tuesday and Thursday evenings, with instructors from Bentonville High Fitness, and class members pay a fee separate from the gym membership.
Several new gym members have signed up recently and there are now over 100 members. Natanya says they range from teenagers to an 80-year-old member who comes in mostly to use the treadmill. Some come in to do cardio exercise only during the winter when they can't get outside and others come in year-round to lift weights and do strength training. Persons can sign up for individual memberships or purchase family memberships for up to four persons in the same household. Discounts are available for law enforcement officers, firemen and other first responders, military personnel and teachers.
The Riddles encourage everyone to come, check out their services and consider joining. Gym membership gives one the opportunity to stay in good shape, improve muscle tone and maintain good cardio health. They hope to promote a pleasant family atmosphere where parents and teens can bond over a mutual endeavor for optimal health. Music is played during exercise sessions and the gym's extensive playlist should appeal to persons of all ages and fitness levels. Gym members are given their own key fobs and can let themselves in and out whenever they please. The building is available to them 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
In addition to running the gym, the Riddles stay busy raising their two boys and working at other jobs. Les is a part-time Benton County reserve deputy, is on the county dive team and works in the heavy equipment industry. Natanya is a freelance stenographer who contracts with various court reporting firms and lawyers. They are assisted at the gym by their trainer, Jamie McDougal, ATC, CSCS, a New York native who moved to Gravette in 2019 from Russellville. Jamie is available for training and functionality assessments to make the most of your workout and target specific problem areas you might need assistance with. Contact him at [email protected] or call 479-747-2165.
Les Riddle is a third-generation Gravette native. Natanya is a Texas native who grew up south of Houston and met Les when she came to northwest Arkansas for a family craft fair weekend. The couple lives on a farm west of Gravette with their sons, Weston, age 4, and Bryce, who will soon be 2. Their farm is adjacent to the original family farm which Les' grandfather, Lee Riddle, purchased in the mid 1950s.
Persons interested in gym membership can learn more about The Gravette Gym on the business Facebook page or on the website, www.thegravettegym.com, which also has a link to the Facebook page. Email address for the gym is [email protected] or call 479-287-6839. The Riddles invite all to call with questions or to make an appointment to sign up.