Live Well Fitness Health and Wellness Center opened early this year in a new 3,600-square-foot building, but the gym at 661 County Road 120, St. Johnsville, started in a much smaller space.
“I had started doing group fitness classes in my garage,” said owner Kelly Daukontas. “I started with three or four ladies and it kind of grew. After a while I was doing six or seven classes a week and needed to grow the space.”
After a couple of possible locations in Dolgeville didn’t work out, she and her husband, Justin, decided, at her father’s suggestion, to purchase a parcel of land near their home and build a new fitness center.
“We bought the land in May of 2020,” said Kelly Daukontas.
Family members graded the property, and an Amish work crew built the pole barn-style structure. She said her husband, a physics and chemistry teacher at Dolgeville, “learned a lot about carpentry,” during the finishing of the interior. He still helps with behind-the-scenes work at the center.
The building is insulated and features restrooms and showers, she said, adding the high ceilings and open space provide for good air flow, and the garage door on one side of the structure is opened during the summer, providing additional ventilation. The proximity to the Daukontas’ home allowed them to run a line from their own well to the fitness center.
“It was not the best time to leave the job at the Little Falls Veterinary Clinic that I’d had for 13 years,” she said, noting that during the time the building was going up, gyms were still not allowed to open due to the COVID-19 pandemic. She and her husband had been planning this for a while though and decided to move ahead. “I just had to pray this (the pandemic) was not going to be forever.”
When Live Well Fitness opened in January, “I was still a little leery,” said Daukontas, noting that COVID-19 cases were on the rise in Herkimer County. “But we did OK.”
She thinks people were looking at their health and realizing that fitness is part of a healthy and active lifestyle.
To that end, the full-service gym offers trainers, group and small group fitness classes as well as other services. Some of the participants used to go to “build and burn” classes in Daukontas’ garage. “I call them my originals,” she said.
Daukontas is a certified personal trainer and nutrition coach. Dr. Bryan D’Aoust offers chiropractic services and Becky Case, a licensed massage therapist, both see patients by appointment at the site.
“They go hand-in-hand with health and fitness,” said Daukontas.
Charlie Nugent, a certified personal trainer, also provides services at the facility and four instructors, in addition to Daukontas, teach classes that include yoga, step and pound, along with weight-lifting. Gym membership is not required to take part in the classes, but members are issued key fobs that give them 24-hour access to the facility, a plus for those whose work schedule prevents them from stopping in during regular hours.
A group of high school students made use of the center during the summer, said Daukontas, noting that their school weight room was closed. “It was nice we could provide that service.”
Donna Thompson is the government and business reporter for the Times Telegram. Email her at [email protected].