A new Planet Fitness exercise facility officially opened on Nov. 15 at 34 N. Euclid Ave.
National City Mayor Alejandra Sotelo-Solis and Vice Mayor Jose Rodriguez were joined by San Diego County Board of Supervisors Chair Nathan Fletcher, San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Officer Jerry Sanders, One World Planet Fitness Chief Executive Officer Billy Olson and others for the ribbon-cutting ceremony Monday morning.
Sotelo-Solis said the facility is a mechanism for residents to prioritize self-care after over a year of COVID-19 restrictions that saw many people retreat to the safety of their homes, effectively limiting their physical activity.
Fletcher recounted a cross-country flight where he was seated next to a scientist who studies longevity. The scientist, he said, pinpointed physical activity as a key factor in aging well and a long life.
“Wherever you are, it’s not too late to start,” Fletcher said with a smile.
Olson was more emphatic in his delivery, said self-care and community care are absolutely intertwined.
“I believe in every fiber of my body that when you take care of yourselves, you have the ability to take care of everyone around you,” Olson said.
Prior to the pandemic, he said, Planet Fitness clubs saw a high percentage of older teens working out in the gyms. The personal connection of identifying a gym as “my club, where I work out” is important, he said, a sort of community identity that bolsters business while also promoting individual health.
Approximately 33% of adults in San Diego County are overweight and 26% are obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and almost 30% of San Diego County children in grades five, seven, and nine are overweight or obese. Those numbers are skewed even higher for National City and other communities with a high number of Hispanic students— numbers show 21.8% of Hispanic students in the county aged five through 19 are overweight, compared to 17.3% of their white peers.
The club on N. Euclid was designed for the post-COVID world with ventilation that circulates three times an hour, Olson said and is spread out over 20,000 square feet with different areas that can be closed off for sanitization.
In addition to serving as a catalyst for physical activity, Sotelo-Solis also said the new facility also serves to bolster post-pandemic business recovery throughout the city.
“Anytime we can have that balance, we welcome it as a driver for personal and business prosperity,” Sotelo-Solis said.
The gym, positioned near schools, might serve as enticement for local families to increase their activity, Sotelo-Solis said, but more significantly “is right by all the nurses at Paradise Valley Hospital so we have two hubs” and a wider population that can join the gym, ostensibly in a convenient location.
The new gym is part of a larger push, Sotelo-Solis said, for a healthier lifestyle throughout the city, which was recently recognized as one of ten national prize winners of the 2020-2021 Culture of Health Prize awarded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
Currently, the mayor said, city officials are focusing on partnering with local schools for COVID-19 vaccine clinics as well as encouraging community engagement as public events open back up.