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New fitness facility in St. Albans caters to women of all ages

By Ben Calwell, Metro Reporter
Stretch fitness is just one part of the new Defining Women fitness facility that opened April 3 at 64 Olde Main Plaza, St. Albans. Defining Women offers half-hour sessions comprised of 30 second resistance-based workouts that include aerobics and machines.
Sherry Mancarrow of Nitro uses an exercise machine at the new Defining Women gym in St. Albans. Defining Women is in the former Curves for Women location on Olde Main Plaza.
Defining Women owner Larissa Gatens follows along with her class on an exercise machine. Gatens was a Curves for Women member and decided to open her own facility when Curves closed unexpectedly.

When the Curves for Women fitness facility closed suddenly in St. Albans, loyal member Larissa Gatens decided to take the lead in keeping a similar venue in place on Olde Main Plaza.

And she has done just that.

On April 3, she opened her new Defining Women facility in the former Curves location at 64 Olde Main Plaza. A core group of her friends who were also members of Curves are staying with Gatens as the St. Albans resident embarks on her new business venture.

Gatens said she and her fellow Curves members were caught off guard when the facility closed.

“When Curves closed, all the women here were just so upset about it closing, including myself. I tried to figure out a way to keep it open, so I decided to go into business for myself. We couldn’t keep it open as a Curves, so I decided to open it up as a different gym,” Gatens said, at the conclusion of a recent morning workout session.

When Gatens decided to continue the gym as an independent facility, she let her new members choose a name for it.

“They voted on the name ‘Defining Women,’” she said. “I didn’t choose it -- the ladies did.”

As its name describes, Defining Women is strictly for women. Each half-hour session includes a series of 30-second, “resistance-based” workouts, using various machines, with aerobics and stretching as part of the program.

“Each class I have is with the machines and with aerobics,” she said.

Members have the option to stick around after their classes to work out on exercise bikes and treadmills in the back. There is also an “Ab Circle Pro” machine for the members to use.

“It’s really fun.”

Defining Women offers classes at 8:30 a.m., 10:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. On Fridays, classes are only offered at 8:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.

“Each day of the week, I have a different workout that focuses on a different part of the body.”

The fee to join Defining Women is $35 a month.

“And if you only want to do one month, it’s $40,” she said.

There are no start-up fees, cleaning fees, maintenance fees or cancellation fees.

Before starting her own gym for women, Gatens was a fitness enthusiast, who worked out at other gyms, including Curves.

“I worked out pretty regularly before I joined Curves. When Curves closed, I thought, ‘What am I going to do?’”

Gatens is working to become certified in Yoga. The Defining Women regimen includes a Yoga-esque “stretch fitness” class.

“If I were certified, it would be a Yoga class,” she said.

Gatens said her classes are suitable for women of all ages and abilities.

“I have them all over the spectrum, and I have a couple of women with disabilities that come in, also.”

Gatens said the Defining Women members plan to be active in the community with charity drives and other outreach programs. Defining Women is also a great social outlet for its members.

“It’s kind of like a little women’s club here at the gym,” Gatens said.

Defining Women member Sherry Mancarrow of Nitro said she’s happy that Gatens is keeping a ladies fitness facility open on Olde Main Plaza.

“It’s a lot better -- she pays more attention to the gym. It’s an intense workout; I always leave with my face red. I would recommend it to anybody,” Mancarrow said.

Lucille McClure of Tornado is a loyal Defining Women member. She praised Gatens for stepping in when Curves closed.

“I’m very thankful that she (Gatens) has taken the risk, and it is a big risk,” McClure said.

The workouts suit McClure.

“They are as much as you can put into them. You can do it without so much stress, or you can push yourself and get more out of the workout. I’m sort of in the middle,” McClure said.

For more information about Defining Women, call 304-395-3116, or visit Defining Women’s Facebook page (Defining Women WV). The email address is


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