Tom Church can bench-press 180 pounds. In February, before the worst of the recession, his maximum was only 120. Why the improvement? Church drives a cement mixer, and a slump in the building business has given him plenty of time to hang out at the Dana Point Athletic Club. “I’m not out getting drunk,” he says. “I’m not feeling sorry for myself.”
Dave Koch, who owns the gym, sees a trend in the making--the out of work are working out. Hard bodies for hard times. “People that we saw at night, we’re seeing in the day,” he says.
Other gym owners are making the same discovery. “This business is recession-proof,” says Jim Seltenreich, manager of the Family Fitness Center in San Juan Capistrano. “People will always go to the movies and people will always work out.”
A good workout can burn off stress, pump up confidence and save a person from the slow torture of daytime talk shows. Since she lost her job as a flight attendant, Dominique del Vilar spends two hours a day at the Riviera Health Club in Dana Point. “When you don’t have a job, you’re so depressed,” she says. “When you work out, you’re not.”