By Tommy Romanach
As Baton Rouge heads into the thick of summer, gym attendance tends to drop as fast as temperatures rise.
Gabe Miller thinks he’s found a solution.
Miller is owner of UFC Gym on Perkins Road, which is celebrating its second annual “Punch Away the Pounds” event, a 60-day effort to keep members in shape and motivated to continue working out. All proceeds will go to the Baton Rouge chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation in an effort to fight the life-threatening disease
“This was our way to keep people motivated,” Miller said. “We want to keep people coming into the gym, we don’t want them to put all this work in and just lose it all during the summer.”
The guidelines of the event are simple: members can earn points by attending scheduled workouts or classes, taking on daily challenges, and measuring improvement from first to final assessment. Prizes for those who score the most points include $200 cash and one-week guest membership cards for the gym.
Miller has been working out his entire life, raised by parents insistent on staying fit but having fun while doing so. When he saw numbers at the gym dwindle in the summer months, he began to worry not just about the business, but the fitness of the people his gym serves.
“It’s not always about making money,” Miller said. “I need to make a living of course, but it’s the atmosphere and the people that make this so special to me. The people are the biggest asset to this gym.”
Miller believes what truly makes PATP a success is the same thing he thinks separates the gym from others: the environment. Miller says members are open and social with everyone, far different from the solitary environment Miller has found in most gyms.
Morgan Simpson, UFC Gym staff member and PATP participant, agrees with Miller. Simpson began going to the gym last October and joined the staff only two months later. Now, Simpson estimates she spends 50 hours a week at the gym—half working, half working out.
“This isn’t just a gym where you just go and go into your own world for your workout,” Simpson said. “You’re in a community of people who are all taking the same class. You feel a real bond here, and you just don’t see that in many gyms you go to.”
PATP’s biggest addition is its fight against Cystic Fibrosis. UFC Gym has partnered with Anna Betts, co-host of radio show “Condon Uncensored” on 98.1 and a gym member herself.
Betts works with the foundation’s chapter and helps run a fundraiser for fighting the disease called “Capital City’s Finest.” While brainstorming for ideas to raise money, it didn’t take long for her to begin talks with Miller about PATP.
“For me it just shows the integrity of the gym and the whole family mentality,” Betts said. “For Gabe and the gym to be willing to do so much, coming up with ideas while I came up with ideas, it just shows UFC is willing to support their members and give back.”
The fitness challenge began on June 15 and runs until August 13, with members able to participate at both UFC Gym locations, on Perkins Road and South Sherwood Forest Blvd.