When Milner resident Jim Gregoire was a young physical trainer, he knew what type of person he wanted to be when he grew older.
“All the people that I admired were in their 70s and 80s — all these crusty old trainers that just knew so much,” said Gregoire, 63. “It takes a lifetime to really know (a craft) in anything.”
Now, Gregoire is at the age where he feels comfortable enough as a physical trainer that he “can really help people,” he said.
After being named the new operators of the Trapper Fitness Center in Craig with his wife, Barb, 54, the Gregoires are excited to continue a life of spreading the benefits of physical activity.
To Jim, exercise is one of the most important facets of life.
“The next best thing is facilitating other people,” he said. “So, that is why this is the perfect job for both of us.”
Starting Nov. 1, the Gregoires will become the operators of Trapper Fitness. Jim had managed the facility for about four years under the direction of Colorado Northwestern Community College.
The switch in operation is the result of an agreement recently reached between college administrators and the Gregoires.
Gene Bilodeau, CNCC vice president of administration, said the Board of Control for the CNCC Craig Campus had owned Trapper Fitness since the mid-1990s.
Bilodeau said the college paid for the operation of the building, including employee salary and maintenance, to provide a location for the college’s physical education program and for students to have gym access.
However, in the face of mounting budget concerns, the college began to look for someone else to operate the facility so administrators could allocate those funds elsewhere, Bilodeau said.
“We decided that we wanted to try to get out of the health care business and focus on what our real mission is, which is the education,” he said.
After Nov. 1, the Gregoires will take over the day-to-day operations of the fitness center and be responsible for the well being of the business, Bilodeau said. However, the Board of Control will still own the fitness center building and the majority of the equipment inside, Bilodeau said.
“We are comfortable with Jim and Barb being the operators,” Bilodeau said. “We are comfortable that we are still going to be able to keep the health club as a viable entity for the community and for our students, but we won’t be responsible for the day-to-day management and operation of it.”
However, the change in management doesn’t mean the college and the fitness center will sever ties completely, Bilodeau said.
CNCC will still use the facility for physical education classes it offers, in addition to continuing to pay for student access.
For the Gregoires, the switch means they will have more control and flexibility over things like physical activity classes and trainings, staffing, and the general direction of the center, considering they won’t be “tied” to the rules and regulations of the college, Bilodeau said.
“Gene has pointed out, and we agree, that it is a win-win for everybody in this situation … because it would be sad not to have this facility,” Barb said.
Although the Gregoires are excited about the switch, Jim, who is also in charge of CNCC’s physical education department, said it should be mostly “business as usual” around Trapper.
But, the couple is looking to add more classes and services in the future, Jim said.
“We are still going the same direction, because we have been very happy with what has been happening here,” he said. “We just want people to be fit.”
The 24-hour per day fitness center, which has a membership of about 200 people, offers a variety of classes in addition to weight lifting and aerobic exercising equipment, Barb said
The fitness center started housing Zumba Fitness over the summer and is soon looking to bring programs like Pilates and yoga to complement its other classes such as spinning and CrossFit.
Although the change in operation is a somewhat daunting and exciting combination, Barb said she thinks she will be happy working with her husband at the center for some time.
“Can you imagine a better job to go on and on and on than to be in a fitness center?” she said. “I mean, you are around healthy people, or people that want to get healthy.”
As for Jim, the time when he will want to step away from Trapper Fitness and his new operating role is anytime but soon.
“There is no retirement,” he said with a laugh.