BREWSTER The fitness center and medical equipment shop on Main Avenue have changed hands, but customers will continue to see familiar faces there.
“It’s business as usual, it’s just new ownership now,” owner Bennie Polvos said.
The businesses were once owned by Three Rivers Hospital. Polvos has managed Advantage Durable Medical Equipment for several years.
“I spent the last six or seven years building this business for the hospital, and when they came to the rough decision to cut the department from the hospital, I wasn’t going to just let my customers go without service. I wasn’t going to abandon them, so the next logical step was to just take over the business and keep it going,” he said.
Three Rivers opted to sell both Advantage and its neighbor, Healthbeat Fitness Center, during budget talks last year.
“I’ll never understand why the hospital decided to cut the DME department,” he said. “I can understand the fitness to a certain degree, but with proper management even that’s showing great improvements already and we’ve only been open two weeks. The community has really rallied behind the gym.”
Polvos purchased both businesses for about $85,000. His ownership went into effect May 1.
“Bennie has put his whole heart into making DME a viable business for the community,” hospital board Chairwoman Vicki Orford wrote in an email. “His main reason for purchasing both companies was to make sure they stayed in this community, which was exactly what TRH wanted to happen.
“We wish him success in this new adventure.”
It has been a bittersweet adjustment for Polvos, who said he enjoyed working for the hospital and will miss it.
His first order of business was to purchase new billing software, which he said should be faster and smooth out the process for Advantage customers.
More changes are coming, primarily for Healthbeat, 537 W. Main Ave.
Polvos has renamed the gym to Gamble Fitness, a nod to the man who started it, former hospital CEO Howard Gamble.
Along with new signs and paint, Polvos has purchased a new treadmill and hopes to provide a home for the youth boxing program and bring in classes such as Zumba. He also plans to open the gym on Saturdays again, on a trial basis at first.
“We’re basically just trying to make it pay for itself right now,” he said. “I know it’s not going to be a big moneymaker, if I can get it to pay for itself, I’ll be happy.
“Basically, I’m putting it in the hands of the community right now. If you support us, you’ll continue to have a fitness center. If we lose our support, then unfortunately we won’t be able to stay open. But it looks very promising right now.”
He credited Dylan Gamble, Gebbers Farms and Crane and Crane Orchards with helping to recruit new gym memberships since he took over the business.
“He’s going to be key in helping us maintain the fitness center,” Polvos said of Gamble.
Physical therapist Mark Miller, whose business is located inside the fitness center, will be staying.
“What’s nice about the business is we all need each other,” Polvos said. “We like to promote good health, and everybody in this building works together to make sure each business is successful.”