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This article by Kathleen McGinn Spring was prepared for the March 15, 2006 issue of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
Real Estate Notes
This has been a good winter for the home gym business. Yes, a big warm-up started in February, but it was freezing cold well before the winter solstice. "We had our coldest spell in November," notes Peter Sharpless, manager of Omni Fitness at the Princeton Shopping Center. The combination of cold and short days is what drives people from sidewalks and tow paths into showrooms full of treadmills, exercise bikes, and weight training machines.
"Our busy time of year is October through the end of April," says Sharpless. But summer can be good too. "We pray for heat waves and rain."
The home gym business is booming for reasons totally unrelated to the weather, too. Managers of area fitness stores say that time-pressed commuters are among their best customers. But an even bigger segment of business often comes from new moms. Neither a 12-hour day in Manhattan nor an infant on a schedule make it easy to get to a gym. The alternative is often some sort of home gym set-up. In newer homes, there is often an entire room full of aerobic and weight training machines – and sometimes multiples of each type of equipment, says Sharpless, who has observed that a number of central New Jersey families "have dedicated fitness rooms that put gyms to shame."
But who hasn’t been to a home with a garage full of cast-off elliptical machines and NordicTracks? Who, in fact, has never – not even once – lived in a home where a treadmill served as a coat rack or storage platform for boxes of out-of-season clothing?
Are there ways to make sure that exercise equipment will not become a poor excuse for sculpture? Are there ways to try out the at-home fitness option without spending a fortune?
The Gym Source, with a showroom at 1325 Route 206, has a New York City division (212-688-4222) that offers an alternative to the straight-out purchase of an aerobic exercise machine, a piece of equipment that can easily cost $3,000. "We rent out treadmills, bikes, and elliptical machines," says Helen Duggan. But, interestingly enough, she is not enthusiastic about doing so. "It’s expensive," she says.
The rental for one piece of equipment is $495 a month, plus delivery and pick-up. Still, she says, there are some people who are willing to take on the expense. "It’s good for a short period of time," she says. Again, new mothers are big customers. While they can put their children into gym nurseries when they are older, few gyms will take infants, and almost all gyms promptly summon mom as soon as her baby starts to howl – a not uncommon phenomenon in the very young.
Other rental customers are people who want to keep exercising through the worst of the winter, but who don’t want the equipment hanging around all year long. For them, says Duggan, a three-month rental can make sense. Anyone who wants two pieces of equipment can get the second piece at a discount. If one month is enough to convince a rental customer that he loves his machine, and wants to keep it, one month’s rent will be subtracted from the sale price.
Another option for those who know themselves well enough to guess that the thrill of jogging in front of the TV will not last forever, is buying used equipment. Fitness Lifestyles (www.fitnesslifestyles.com), which has a 50,000 square-foot showroom in a former department store in Asbury Park, is one of the few fitness stores that does a big business in used equipment. The store, the largest on the East Coast, according to fitness consultant Jacki Franz, does a big business selling to commercial customers, including schools and corporations. When these customers are ready to trade up, their equipment is often for sale in the store.
The stuff often isn’t pretty, says Franz, and it may be noisy, but for some people, it fills the bill. "I had a gentleman just before the winter," she says. "He needed a treadmill. I thought it was loud, but he said `sounds great! I’ll take it!’"
Strength training equipment may be banged up after a stint in a school weight room, but, says Franz, "it will last through the next Ice Age." Cardio equipment, on the other hand, is more of a risk when purchased second hand. "A lot depends on maintenance," she says. "Did they lubricate it? Did they keep it clean? Was it kept in the garage?"
"We get the thing going," she says, "but we don’t do a nose to tail. It would cost too much." And cost is the appeal of the used equipment. It’s possible to buy a gym-quality treadmill that has seen better days for as little as $200, she says. New it would cost anywhere from $3,000 to over $6,000.
The store doesn’t always have a deep selection of every type of fitness machine, so Franz suggests calling ahead before driving over.
Whether an exerciser is buying new or used, Franz says that it is extremely important to talk with a fitness expert first, and to try out the equipment. "It’s sort of like buying shoes," she says.
Who hasn’t fallen for a pair of stunning pumps, or exalted in finding a hugely discounted pair of wing tips, only to find the wretched footwear unbearably uncomfortable after just one evening? It’s the same with treadmills and elliptical machines and exercise bikes, says Franz. They have to fit well and they have to be comfortable. Franz is convinced that the whole treadmill-as-hat-rack thing has its roots in a bad match between man and machine – or a machine that is so badly made that it would not be a good match for anyone.
A treadmill, for example, has to be bouncy, or running on it will be like running on concrete, and shin splints could well occur. But if it’s too bouncy, using it will be like running on sand, and legs may become so fatigued that running will quickly become torture. One good test for a treadmill, says Franz, is to bounce a ball on it. If the treadmill shakes, it may be too bouncy. It if holds fairly steady, just dampening the impact, it may be just right.
But is a treadmill, any treadmill, the best thing to buy if an exerciser wants to keep up an indoor fitness routine, but has room for only one piece of equipment? If a choice between an aerobic machine – in the form of a treadmill, bike, or elliptical machine – and a weight training machine must be made, which is best?
"It depends on your goals," says Franz, "but if you have limited space, I’d say go with strength." Few people want to hear this, she finds. "They think weight is work, it’s boring, it’s just up and down, up and down. They think cardio is fun." But, she points out, "you can go outside and do cardio." For a well-rounded fitness routine, strength training, which increases lean muscle mass, is important. There are now weight training machines that will fit easily into a 4′ X 6′ room, she says. Space does not have to be the deciding factor.
Still, each exerciser is unique, and not everyone will want to follow Franz’ home gym advice. Franz, herself, likes to visit a commercial gym after a full day of selling gym equipment to homeowners, offices, and schools. Many of her customers tell her that they like to exercise in private. But Franz, who also has some exercise equipment at home, really likes going out to a gym. "I like being in a place where everyone is exercising," she says. "I like not hearing the phone ring or worrying about having to read the mail."
Crowded parking lots at every gym in the area prove that Franz is not alone. It’s harder to see the home gym movement, but area fitness stores confirm that it’s going strong. Until azaleas replace every last trace of ice and the sun stays out long enough to greet the crowd detraining from the 7:18 from Manhattan, home gyms are likely to be alive with the sound of whirring treadmill motors and clanking weights.
– Kathleen McGinn Spring
Countrywide Home Loans (CWD), 3705 Quakerbridge Road, Suite 110, Mercerville 08619; 609-584-7644; fax, 609-584-8151. Daniel Guest, branch manager. www.countrywide.com
Countrywide Home Loans has moved from 1 Nami Lane in Mercerville, nearly doubling its space to 5,000 square feet. Loan officer Katherine Roche says the company has increased to 18 loan officers.
Countrywide’s loan products include purchases of up to four units, refinancing, and investment properties. Roche attributes recent growth to the inhouse operations staff, which allows Countrywide to turn over loans quickly, sometimes in as little as three days.
The national independent mortgage company has nine offices in New Jersey and is headquartered in Calabasas, California.
Countrywide Home Loans Inc. (CWD), 20 Nassau Street, Suite 20, Princeton 08540; 609-683-1165. Richard M. Zeller.
Countrywide Home Loans’ Mercerville office has opened a satellite in Princeton. With an initial staff of four employees, the company expects eventual growth to six or eight.
Gloria Nilson GMAC Real Estate, 800 Denow Road, Suite N, Pennington 08534; 609-737-9100; fax, 609-737-1215. Susan Van Selous, manager. Home page: www.gnrgmac.com
The Pennington office of the residential real estate firm moved at the end of February from 2 Route 31 South in Pennington to Hopewell Crossing.
Dana Funding Inc., 114 West Franklin Avenue, Straube Center, Suite K-1,9, Pennington 08534; 609-730-0893; fax, 631-865-0700. Frank Leone.
Frank Leone has opened a residential and commercial mortgage loan office at the Straube Center. The firm is based in New York.
Carduner Valuation Services, 2 Canterbury Drive, Suite 100, Robbinsville 08691; 609-223-4911; fax, 609-223-4922. Scott Carduner.
The commercial real estate appraisal firm moved from 8 Princeton-Hightstown Road in East Windsor to Robbinsville. Founded in 2001, it has three employees.
Moderate Income Management, 1911 Princeton Avenue, Lawrenceville 08648; 609-989-8500; fax, 609-802-0148. Mildred Blaine Gershen, president. www.gershengroup.com
Moderate Income Management, also known as the Gershen Group, moved from 1675 Whitehorse-Mercerville Road to Princeton Avenue in Lawrenceville, and it has a new phone and fax. It does property management, planning, and development.
Help-U-Sell McGann Advantage, West Franklin Avenue, Straube Center, Suite K-1, 1&2, Pennington 08534; 609-737-7777; fax, 609-737-7331. Tom McGann, owner. Home page: www.husmcgannadvantage.com
Tom McGann has opened a flat fee real estate listing service at the Straube Center.
740 Parkway Avenue. Leonardo Vitulli to Floyd DuPont, Jr. $254,000. Closing: December 5, 2005.
72 Sparrow Drive. Pulte Homes to Dominic Longo and Vanessa Glaydura. $349,165. Closing: November 28, 2005.
65 Argonne Avenue. Peter Curran and Carol Moscarello to Charles Hutton. $292,000. Closing: November 23, 2005.
140 Hunter Avenue. Troy D’Imperio to Mavil Baquerfo. $256,000. Closing: November 29, 2005.
95 Haddon Court. Beazer Homes to Sujatha Manivel and Mukunthan Chandrasekaran. $387,180. Closing: November 21, 2005.
32 Carla Way. Giancarlo and Kara Paglione to Jeffery and Nancy Pawar. $610,000. Closing: November 28, 2005.
165 Review Avenue. NP Builders to Ion Popescu. $535,469. Closing: January 13, 2006.
107 Ketterer Road. Randy DeFazio and Sherri Hayes to Trayc and Ann King. $514,000. Closing: January 2, 2006.
90 Drift Avenue. JH Properties to Sreenivasulu Vanaparthi and Parvathi Jajee. $476,000. Closing: January 30, 2006.
41 Easton Court. James and Robin Schweppe to Christina Tavares and Bruno Ribeiro. $307,500. Closing: January 17, 2006.
42 Traditions Way. Ronald and Sandra Dauer to Dorothy Persell. $295,000. Closing: January 20, 2006.
3 Bunker Hill Road. Minnie Copeland to Suffrens and Claire Fleurmont. $290,000. Closing: November 17, 2005.
6 Tompkins Place. Daniel and Cindy Shack to Oliver Sissman. $225,000. Closing: January 4, 2006.
11 Poillon Court. Mary Tofel to Vincente Carrion. $218,000. Closing: November 30, 2005.
309 White Pine Circle. Sherry Lynn Walter, Nicholas Eberle, Diane Eberle to Cathleen Burbank Cunningham. $215,000. Closing: January 30, 2006.
185 Prospect Avenue. Freedberg to Princeton University Trustees. $919,075. Closing: December 6, 2005.
85 Erdman Avenue. Murray to Cendent Financial to Hemphill. $529,000. Closing: November 15, 2005.
14 Cameron Court. Simmons to Vulchi. $462,000.
9 Palmer Square West, Unit D. Bilanin to Werner. $223,000. Closing: November 18, 2005.
34 Maybury Hill Road. Hesser to Wang. $1,500,000. Closing: February 2, 2006.
283 Mercer Street. Djahanbani to Kurtzer. $1,500,000. Closing: January 4, 2006.
52 Constitution Hill West. Marks to Thomas. $1,410,000. Closing: February 6, 2006.
90 West Battle Road. Martha and Lee King to Jonathan and Bentley Drezner. $1,170,000. Closing: December 12, 2005.
57 Potters Run. Cummings to Yu. $1,065,000. Closing: January 20, 2006.
36 Warren Court. Yu to Bari. $1,060,000. Closing: February 2, 2006.
347 Prospect Avenue. Opeke to Bucholtz. $872,333. Closing: January 6, 2006.
169 Meadowbrook Drive. Renton to Trenholm. $835,000. Closing: January 12, 2006.
65 Dodds Lane. Larr to Walden. $823,500. Closing: January 11, 2006.
17 Wilkinson Way. Pasch to Pithani. $542,500. Closing: February 8, 2006.
752 Prospect Avenue. Carlton S T to Transcentury Corp.. $540,000. Closing: January 9, 2006.
286 Alexander Street. Groves to Princeton University. $525,000. Closing: January 12, 2006.
30 Old Orchard Road. Webb to Thompson. $511,000. Closing: January 25, 2006.
82 Valley Road. Mikulic to Fleischer. $440,000. Closing: January 13, 2006.
33 Leigh Avenue. Kehres to Wu. $380,000. Closing: January 18, 2006.
522 Brickhouse Road. Fallon-Booth to Shin. $362,900. Closing: January 19, 2006.
628 Brickhouse. O’Neill to Hare. $346,000. Closing: February 2, 2006.
50 David Brearly Court. Chung to Chen. $324,000. Closing: January 12, 2006.
32 McCabe Street. Sharbell Newtown Inc. to Sameer Kulkarni and Archana Ghatpande. $461,079. Closing: December 7, 2006.
17 Carson Street. Sharbell Newton to Kathleen Bechtel. $441,974. Closing: November 29, 2005.
1 Kettering Court. Dolores McGlone to Judity DiMemmo. $275,000. Closing: November 14, 2005.
32 Rebecca Court. Mark Fulcomer and Marcia Sass to Joseph McNeil and Brenda Ruetschi. $268,000. Closing: December 1, 2005.
722 Strawberry Street. Latney Development to Mariusz Jurek. $200,000. Closing: November 28, 2005.
211 South Clinton Avenue. Duling Restoration to Sean McCourt. $191,500. Closing: December 2, 2005.
104 Robbinsville-Edinburg Road. Martin Yonkowski to John Campbell. $480,000. Closing: June 2, 2006.
10 Huntington Drive. William and Eileen Beam to Shawn and Dana Panson. $810,000. Closing: January 20, 2005.
9 Wallingford Drive. John G. and Jennifer Ginelli to Louis J. Jr. and Jenna Paglia. $624,998. Closing: October 21, 2005.
848 Alexander Road. Gerd and Anne-Kathrin Schilling to Liu Family. $600,000. Closing: August 8, 2005.
114 North Barrow Place. Nathan and Angela Young to Daniel Sternbach. $450,000. Closing: August 8, 2005.
45 Wallace Road. Joshua Drew and Nancy Potts to David and Katherine Hoffman. $392,000. Closing: October 27, 2005.
80 West Shrewsbury Place. Lisa Bianculli to Richard and Taryn White. $355,000. Closing: January 7, 2005.
201 Salem Court, Unit 1. David Baum and Julie Blumenfield to Irvin Urken. $257,500. Closing: August 18, 2005.
119 Commonwealth Court, No. 3. Rusi Brij to Rajendra and Sudhana Gawde. $255,000. Closing: August 5, 2005.
206 Salem Court, Unit 7. Todd and Susan Gasior to Umesh and Maneka Grover. $250,000. Closing: January 28, 2005.
ourt, No. 3. Rusi Brij to Rajendra and Sudhana Gawde. $255,000. Closing: August 5, 2005.
206 Salem Court, Unit 7. Todd and Susan Gasior to Umesh and Maneka Grover. $250,000. Closing: January 28, 2005.
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