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Staff Writer

DEVENS — Health came to Devens Common on Friday, Jan. 12, as Anytime Fitness, one of the latest in a nationwide franchise chain, conducted what owner/operator Valerie Fournier describes as a “soft opening.”

She and her partner, husband Al, officially opened the 24-7 operation Jan. 19.

“We’re gym rats who together have about 40 years in gyms, and we’ve learned what clubs don’t have,” said Valerie.

“This one is modeled after the one in Clinton, a perfect model for here,” said Al.

Residents of Lancaster, the two have a married son, Christopher, 24, who works in the high-tech industry and is helping to wire the office and workout floor. Their daughter, Rachel, 17, is a dual-enrollment senior at Nashoba Valley Technical High School and Quinsigamond Community College.

A Nashoba Tech graduate herself, Valerie is a corporate survivor. She worked as a field service trainer for Digital Equipment Corp. for 10 years, moved to the now-defunct All America Financial Services as a medical insurance trainer, then acquired an insurance broker’s license. She is leaving the employee-benefits business that she owns.

Valerie will manage the fitness spa and do billing for the magazine.

Al Fournier is a graduate of Massachusetts Bay Community College and associate publisher of New England Construction Magazine, one of 14 such magazines and the largest in the business.

The facility uses cardio equipment manufactured by Star Trac and Life Fitness Hammer Strength. Inventory includes tread mills, elliptical cross-trainers, steppers, bikes, multi-gyms, spin bikes, free weights, plate-loaded machines, two tanning booths, and a fitness studio. The studio is a separate room fitted with a cushioned floor, mirror wall and television. It’s used for stretching and stability work such as yoga and Pilates.

Six high definition 42-inch televisions are mounted on the main workout room walls. There are two wall-mounted emergency buttons and personal emergency buttons worn around the neck for after-hours protection.

Anyone aged 16 or older is welcome to join, but members must be 18 to have an electronic key. Those aged 12 to 15 who are already on an exercise plan will be taken on in a case-by-case scenario.

Staff members are present during normal business hours Mondays through Saturdays, but access can be had at all hours every day of the year, Valerie said.

“This is a great fit for me because I wasn’t crazy about the brokerage job, and I have a very healthy concern about what I eat and how I work out,” she said. “Our goal is to serve people who have a goal. Not everyone has a program in place from day one. We want to find the right fit for everyone.”

Anytime Fitness has one female trainer and is looking for a male personal trainer.

Monthly rates are $39 for the first person at an address, $29 for a second and $20 per month for a third. Anyone who joins by Saturday, Jan. 13, pays a one-time registration fee of $18 — The regular fee is $60. Corporate membership is also encouraged.

Electronic access keys can be used in any of 300 franchised spas across the country.

“We got the keys to this building Dec. 15. We were really nervous when only a couple of people showed up,” Valerie said.

As of Jan. 8, that was 111 signed customers ago.

According to its national Web site, Anytime Fitness is ranked 21st in the Franchise Times FAST 55 ranking of the fastest growing new U.S. Franchises. An industry-wide effort is underway to enroll 50 million members by 2010.

For information or to sign up for a membership call (978) 772-0722.

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