Cindy K's Fitness for Women, Iowa City, Iowa, is the result of one woman's American dream.

Cindy K's Fitness for Women Iowa City, Iowa; 319 339-7435

Cindy K's Fitness for Women, Iowa City, Iowa, is the result of one woman's American dream. In February 2001, Cindy Duwa (a.k.a., Cindy K), owner and personal trainer, started the facility with one elliptical, two treadmills and two cycles. "I was the owner and only employee. I was only able to be open limited hours, since I continued to work at my full-time job," says Duwa. Five years later, she had to move to a larger location, and has 18 part-time employees. "My first month, I had only 12 clients. I didn't know how to market to get them. [Now], with 400-plus clients, we were able to move to a facility twice the size, and add showers, lockers, a sauna, classes and a massage therapist."

The idea for the fitness center was "to create a gym that was full-service, non-threatening and non-intimidating for women. I wanted women to feel comfortable the minute they stepped in the door," Duwa explains. "One of my clients said she likes working out here because it is like working out at your own home." Cindy K's is small and intimate and, "even with 400-plus members, I know all my clients' names," Duwa says.

This at-home atmosphere doesn't mean that the fitness center looks like home. Says Duwa, "It was important for me to create an atmosphere that grabs you the minute you walk in the door. Cindy K's is brightly decorated in purples, red and black …, many plants and a large aquarium. … My club had to be different from all the rest."

The decór isn't the only thing that makes the fitness center different. Personalized attention and all-inclusive pricing make Cindy K's popular with members. "Classes, ongoing personal attention and all the other amenities, with the exception of yoga and massage, are included in the membership dues. There are no hidden or additional charges," Duwa says. That means that "personal training and continued goal achievement are part of our services," she says. Payment schedules are flexible to fit different needs, and there are no long-term contracts.

As a personal trainer, Duwa is "always looking for ways to keep my clients motivated. I am constantly changing routines and plans." She is certified by the American Council on Exercise (ACE), and teaches most of the classes herself. Duwa does have part-time staff who run the front desk, but she is at the facility "much of the time."

Some of her experience comes from working at other fitness centers. "I knew what I liked and what I didn't like," Duwa explains. She also visited other fitness centers and researched what they were doing before starting Cindy K's. "After I opened, I listened to my clients," she says.

Listening to members has worked for Duwa, as word-of-mouth and client referrals are her No. 1 marketing tool. Also, it doesn't hurt that Cindy K's is the only women-only full-service facility in Iowa City. "I have seen a steady increase in numbers, [and] have women of all walks of life. My age range is 14 to 84, and we assist 80 to 100 clients per day," Duwa says. Compared to its humble beginnings, Cindy K's has certainly proven its success.

FACILITY STATS

Date fitness facility opened: February 2001

Fitness facility size: 3,800 square feet

Number of members: More than 400

Strength equipment: Precor Multi-Station weight machines, Fitness Plus Multi Hip, Fit Express Hydraulic Circuit, Hex and Bollinger dumbbells

Cardio equipment: Precor, Landice and Lifestride treadmills; Precor elliptical trainers; Schwinn recumbent and Airdyne cycles; Concept2 rowing machines

Group exercise classes: Free Weight & Strengthening, Abs & Butts, Stability Ball, Aerobic/Strength Combo, yoga, Senior Free Weights, Senior Strength Training

Extras and amenities: Sauna, massage therapy, personal training, consultations, Yoga Body stability balls