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Courtney Cascella, left, the regional manager for Planet Fitness, and Melissa Squillante, the manager of the new Planet Fitness in Wakefield are pictured in the facility that is scheduled to open today.

SOUTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. — Exercise fanatics, gym rats and others looking for a daily dose of fitness will have a new place for workouts starting this week when Planet Fitness opens in Wakefield.

Just off Old Tower Hill Road in a shopping plaza shared with other businesses, the gym will offer more than 75 pieces of cardio equipment in its sprawling space and join a group of other gyms in the area that cater to the vibrant fitness regimen of an area with an aging population. “We chose Wakefield because we felt it was underserved with fitness options and it’s the type of positive community the Planet Fitness brand was built on,” said Steve Venezia, franchisee owner for the Wakefield Planet Fitness.

“Our goal is to increase access to high-value, low-price fitness for everyone and throughout this process, it’s been wonderful to work with Wakefield civic and business leaders. We are looking forward to officially becoming part of the Wakefield community,” he said.

Planet Fitness joins among others Luxe at South County Commons, The South County YMCA on Broad Rock Road and Anytime Fitness at the Salt Pond Shopping Center in Narragansett, to give people an indoor setting year-round to get physical exercise.

Benefits of Exercise

“The health benefits of regular exercise and physical activity are hard to ignore. Everyone benefits from exercise, regardless of age, sex or physical ability,” according to the Mayo Clinc and area cardiologists, mental health practitioners and internal medicine doctors.

It helps to control weight, combat chronic and serious health conditions and diseases as well as prevent them, improve mood and other conditions affected by stress and anxiety, boosts energy, aid with better sleep, and offer a social outlet to meet friends and enjoy the companionship with regulars do the same.

“At least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes a week of vigorous aerobic activity, or a combination of moderate and vigorous activity” is recommended, according to the clinic.

“The guidelines suggest that you spread this exercise throughout the week...Even small amounts of physical activity are helpful, and accumulated activity throughout the day adds up to provide health benefits,” it said.

Strength training exercises for all major muscle groups are needed at least two times a week. Examples include lifting free weights, using weight machines or doing body-weight training.

“Remember to check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program, especially if you have any concerns about your fitness, haven’t exercised for a long time, have chronic health problems, such as heart disease, diabetes or arthritis,” the clinic advised.

Melissa Squillante, gym manager, said that it aims to provide something for everyone regardless of age or abilities. She pointed out that the cardio equipment include treadmills, ellipticals, ARC trainers, rowers, bikes and Stairmasters.

It also will have areas for stretching with various machines and a specially-designed “30-Minute Workout” that helps time-conscious people to get in stepping and strength exercises while moving through a routine lasting a half-hour of exercise.

It even has flashing green and red lights to show when to exercise and when to stop to drink water while moving to the next station.

In addition, the gym has a variety of cable and Smith machines, free weights and other muscle-building options for people.

With COVID-19 and spread of the Delta variant, the gym staff is focused on keeping the indoor setting sanitized, Squillante, said. While users are asked to wipe down all machines before and after for preventative and cleaning measures, the staff also does the same, she added.

Masks are not required unless the state mandates their use, she said, but all employees are required to wear masks.

“Every 20 minutes staff will be wiping down every machine in the building as part of the effort to prevent the spread of disease,” she said, noting that the facility expects to have 14 full-time people working various shifts.

Gym Offerings

The gym will be open from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, on Friday from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. and on Saturday and Sunday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tier-level and other memberships will be offered. More information can be found at planetfitness.com/gyms/wakefield-ri.

The gym also has lockers, restrooms and showers for general use of customers.

For those wanting more amenities beyond the basic use of the gym, the “Black Card Spa” will be available at a higher price. It has two massage chairs, two massage beds that use rolling water to sooth body muscles and joints, a pair of tanning booths and two tanning beds.

Squillante, 43, looks to herself when thinking about the value of gyms to everyone.

“I grew up in sports. I was always very active. Now I’m getting older and need to keep active,” she said.

Write to Bill Seymour, freelance writer covering news and feature stories, at independent.southcountylife@gmail.com.

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