After 25 years of fun and fitness, Peggy Keel with Sports Village is throwing a party to celebrate all the clients, employees and friends who have made her business a success.
Keel will have a "Cruise to Nowhere" anniversary party Saturday from 7:30-11:30 p.m. at Sports Village at 1735 West Main St. in Lebanon.
Keel said her love of fitness and her hometown led her to start Sports Village. She credits her success to loyal clients, good staff and a willingness to keep up with the times when it comes to fitness innovations.
"We opened Jan. 1, 1988, and when we started we had 75 family memberships, in the first year we had 350," she said. "Now we're up to 2,500. I started the business here because I've always lived here, and I've always been very active."
Keel knows fitness, and it shows in her slim figure and energetic attitude. She began in Wilson County as the first aerobic instructor around and witnessed the rewards her students were reaping from their exercise.
"I saw the benefits, saw them with my own eyes," she said, adding it was that experience which encouraged her to begin a club to spread the fitness to others.
Witnessing the transformations in her original aerobic clients prompted her to expand her vision of fitness to include a lot more people.
"I decided we needed something all encompassing, not just aerobics," Keel said.
Thus, Sports Village was born.
"I wanted it to be like a retreat from their stressful lives," Keel said. "I want them to come here and feel good and for this place to be fun and nice, like family. The majority of people need a little encouragement to get fit."
She said many clients are tired and stressed, but change was not long in coming once they began to exercise on a regular basis.
"It didn't take anytime for them to begin changing," she said, notingas the inches fell off, her clients began to display different clothes, different expressions and much-improved attitudes. "I was so thankful that I could help so many people."
Keel knows how stressful life can be since she lost her husband, Johnny Keel, to colon cancer. Instead of letting her loss drag her down, she turned tragedy into triumph by starting the annual "Go Johnny Go" fitness run in his honor to raise money to fight the disease. Johnny Keel worked at Sports Village for a time, and a lot of her work is in his honor.
"He will always be an important part of this place," she said.
Keel said Sports Village has continued to prosper and grow because the complex has not stayed static during its 25-year span.
"Now we have indoor and outdoor tennis courts, pools and tracks," she said.
The complex also boasts a weight room full of machines and a lot of fit-looking people using them, aerobic and other exercise classes and just about every type of exercise accoutrement imaginable.
A big part of the club's success is a willingness to change what isn't working and embrace what will work.
"We once had a restaurant," Keel said. "Now it's a spinning room. I like to stay ahead of what's going to be happening in the industry."
She said a big part of becoming and staying fit is not looking for shortcuts and impossible-to-maintain diets.
"People need something they can live with for the rest of their lives and still be happy," Keel said, adding regular, sensible exercise is that thing. "I want people to leave here smiling."
The "Cruise to Nowhere" affair is set to make landfall, featuring a cruise ship theme that includes dancing with two disc jockeys, trivia game shows, a talent show, hor d'oeuvres and drinks, door prizes and a complimentary personal portrait of guests.
The anniversary party is her way of saying "thank you," and she hopes everyone will come over to Sports Village and celebrate with her and her staff.
Anyone who wants to attend the party may RSVP to Sports Village at 615-449-0031 or sign up at the sports complex in person.