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According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, there were approximately 77 million Americans born in the U.S. between 1946 and 1964. Americans within this generation are referred to as “baby boomers,” and are the largest population group in U.S. history.
Tom and Suzy Boerboom have made it their life’s work to cater to this population. Both started their careers in the health care industry, and together owned and operated six Curves franchises in Southern Minnesota between 1999 and 2003. After four years, the couple decided to sell the Curves franchises, and founded their own club franchise in 2009, called Welcyon.
“We had a vision,” said Suzy Boerboom. “This country has such a large number of baby boomers, many of which have a disproportionate amount of health problems. Health care costs have skyrocketed. There needed to be a certain type of fitness club for those over 50.”
Tom and Suzy fulfilled that need when they founded Welcyon, a franchise strictly for Americans age 50 and over. The clubs are designed from the inside out to appeal to baby boomers. Each facility is equipped with air-powered strength machines and is treadmill-free, to reduce noise levels. In addition, the clubs offer programs such as book clubs and classes on how to deal with sleep apnea.
According to Suzy, gyms such as Welcyon are needed, to tackle the struggles that baby boomers face head on. “Unless someone continues strength training, they will lose about 10 percent of their muscle strength per decade,” explained Suzy. “By the time some people turn 70, they’ve lost their muscle strength altogether. During my time in the health care industry as a nurse, I saw people become very weak and have a decline in their independence as they aged.”
According to Suzy, the “pillars” of Welcyon; strength, cardio, social connectivity and flexibility, were created to specifically tackle baby boomer challenges. “We’re focused on getting a real result,” said Boerboom. “We want our members to gain strength and health.”
Tom and Suzy opened three Welcyon gyms over the course of two years — two in Minneapolis, Minn. and one in Sioux Falls, S.D. According to Suzy, the couple’s plan is to open 20 additional franchise locations over the course of this year. Suzy said she believes their goal, to have one millions members, is likely to be attained.
“Baby boomers have the most to lose, are the largest demographic and have the most disposable income,” said Suzy. “If we can help a large percentage of baby boomers, it will really help our country, along with the individual. We really feel like Welcyon can change America. We have a mission and purpose to change people’s lives, and we really feel like we’re on the cutting edge of fitness franchises.”
According to Suzy, the name “Welcyon,” was derived from a combination of the words “well-being,” and the Greek word “halcyon,” which can mean peace and prosperity.
Suzy said she sees the combination every time she visits a Welcyon location. “The clubs are a safe, comfortable place,” said Suzy. “Every time I’m in the club, there’s another inspiring success story.”
By Rachel Zabonick