January 6, 2018

Fitness fans flock to Worcester’s last gym

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Wondering what the future could hold for fitness, nutrition, body image and the government’s involvement? Find out with author BJ Hill in the Sun’s serial glimpse into the fantastic, fascinating (and mostly fictional) possibilities of a not-so distant tomorrow.

WORCESTER, Jan. 12, 2069 – Walk around the right side of the old Paulson Shoe Factory on Howard Street and you’ll see a nondescript steel gray door. Crack this open and you’ll hear the clang of metal plates and the odor of sweaty leather. This poorly lit, musty gym is a vestige of an old way of life. And as physical exercise regains popularity, it’s also becoming one of the city’s most popular attractions.

“I haven’t seen anything like this since before we had the Concoction,” said Bob Heinz, owner of WooTown Gym. “I’ve been getting 10 or 20 people a day since before Christmas coming by and signing up for memberships.”

Heinz runs one of about 100 still-standing independent workout gyms nationwide that have reported upticks in business in recent months. New Year’s memberships spikes aren’t unusual, but the question is why people are beginning to return to exercising, at a time when, according to a FOXNN poll, 93 percent of people report they are happy with their body image.

First, some background.

Heinz founded WooTown Gym as a 22-year-old college graduate in 2019. He had been a starting football player at Wachusett Regional High School and the College of the Holy Cross, where he played defensive end for the Purple Knights and majored in business.

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