For all you 98-pound weaklings and cellulite queens who are too busy or lazy to join a health club, Fred Daniels can drive his exercise gym right to your doorstep.
It’s hard to crawl under the bedcovers when Daniels’ 5-ton “Fitness Fleet” rig is idling in the driveway at dawn, waiting to stretch those triceps, tighten the abdominals and banish the blubber.
Once inside the 32-foot trailer, which is hauled by a heavy-duty pickup truck, Daniels’ customers quickly run out of excuses to prolong their flabby indolence.
Awaiting them is a climate-controlled gymnasium on wheels, with mirrored walls, track lighting, carpeting, taped music, jugs of spring water and $30,000 worth of sophisticated exercise equipment. It’s all there, from the digital StairMaster and Schwinn Airdyne stationary bicycle to rowing machine, leg press and weight rack.
Daniels’ curbside appointments begin as early as 5:45 a.m., before busy executives leave for work, and continue until mid-evening. He charges $50 to $80 an hour (it’s cheaper in the middle of the day) for a minimum 12-week regimen under the supervision of a personal trainer.
Daniels insists on full payment in advance, giving his customers a financial incentive to maintain their resolve. But most of his two-dozen clients in affluent Washington-area neighborhoods no longer need any encouragement.
They include a retired Marine colonel, a 13-year-old girl, career women, triathletes and a 74-year-old asthmatic. One of the most enthusiastic is Marilynn Breslau, wife of a corporate executive, who meets Daniels outside her swank Potomac, Md., home at 7:15 a.m. for an hourlong workout three days a week.
A year ago, her mirror was giving Breslau early warnings of middle-age spread. She tried dieting, but it didn’t work. She sensed that exercise had become a distasteful necessity.
“When I started 10 months ago, I hated exercise,” she said, pumping iron in Daniels’ trailer on a recent snowy morning as the Drifters sang from the tape deck.
“I’d joined an aerobics class but never went. I’d put on my exercise tights and go out to Bloomingdale’s or even to the car wash--anything to avoid it. I’d buy aerobics tapes and sit on the living room sofa and just watch the tapes.”
Desperate, Breslau called Fitness Fleet. “When someone rings your doorbell at seven in the morning and you’ve already paid for it, you do it,” she said.
She also likes the privacy of Daniels’ gym. “Nobody else sees you,” she said. “You don’t have to enter a gym and see other women with long, skinny legs and you’re afraid of being seen in your leotards.”
Today, Breslau says, “my clothes fit better, I’ve stopped smoking, my strength has increased tenfold and I have an incredible amount of energy.”
Daniels, 38, is a former professional guitarist and singer who entered the fitness business a little more than a year ago. Certified by the National Academy of Sports Medicine as a personal trainer, he hopes to expand his $100,000 investment into a national franchise of gyms-on-wheels serving homes and offices.
With life in the 1990s racing on fast-forward, Daniels says, his gyms give stressed-out customers a chance to “clear their screens” with intense, closely monitored exercises tailored to meet their individual fitness goals.
Daniels argues that shopping-mall health clubs are more interested in fat profits than a lean, trim clientele.