New York supermarket embraces multitasking, combines gym with groceries

When Ann Lawson strolls into her neighbourhood grocery store, she really gets a workout. That’s because her Hannaford supermarket has a small gym located just past the pharmacy counter. It has treadmills, stationary bicycles, various other cardio machines, even a state-of-the-art Zumba room with a shiny wooden floor.

ALBANY, N.Y. — When Ann Lawson strolls into her neighbourhood grocery store, she really gets a workout.

That’s because her Hannaford supermarket has a small gym located just past the pharmacy counter. It has treadmills, stationary bicycles, various other cardio machines, even a state-of-the-art Zumba room with a shiny wooden floor.

And best of all — it’s free.

“It’s about me getting healthy and losing some of this excess weight,” Lawson said. “And I like the idea of being able to work out and shop in one trip.”

Maine-based Hannaford insists the 5,600-square-foot health facility that opened in October is not part of some shrewd marketing campaign. The Albany store is the only one in the 184-store chain with such a gym, and there are no plans for more.

The idea grew out of a meeting last summer between Hannaford, the local YMCA and the health care provider Capital District Physicians’ Health Plan. All said their goal was to come up with something to improve the area’s health while also being convenient, accessible and free.

The store had the extra space after a recent remodeling, and the Healthy Living Center was born with a goal to target obesity and diabetes.

“It’s been a natural partnership,” said Nancy Gildersleeve, director of healthy living for the Capital District YMCA. “This was perfect for our community. We have got to partner to prevent these chronic diseases.”

The centre has a personal trainer provided by the YMCA, a health care associate from CDPHP to answer questions and enrol new customers, and a Hannaford-registered dietitian to offer advice on healthy eating.

“This is really a first step for people that have never felt that connection and support,” said Gildersleeve, who notes that the YMCA has no other such partnership in the country. “This has become a community centre. People meet folks just like them.”

Store manager Dave Farrell, an admitted “exercise fool” who has dropped 86 pounds in the last year, said gym goers don’t have to shop in the store — they just fill out paperwork on the first visit and are given fobs to swipe when they stop by.

So far, just over 1,100 people have signed up, and the exercise classes are packed.

“Obviously, we’ve had people use it who weren’t customers and have decided to shop in the store,” Farrell said.

“It’s definitely a win for us, but that wasn’t the goal.”

Harry Balzer of the NPD Group, a Chicago-based consumer marketing research firm, thinks it’s a pretty good idea.

“All of us eat and 63 per cent of us say we exercise on a weekly basis,” Balzer said. “I have a ready and willing market with six out of 10 people who walk in the door, but the point that’s most salient is free. I know of nothing that will change your behaviour faster than money. Will it last? That’s the question.”

Margaret Deese, a Hannaford gym regular who doesn’t shop at the store and also has a membership at Planet Fitness, says she likes the concept, in part because of the camaraderie.

“This is wonderful,” she said. “It should be in every grocery store, wherever there’s a need.”

Just Posted

Red Deer man says more cardiac care needed here

Ryan Gillies spent several extra days in hospital waiting to get a stent in Edmonton

Red Deer gets ready for CFR 45

A $20 to $25-million annual injection to the local economy

Former Red Deer teacher going to trial on child porn charges

Charges were laid in January 2017 after a woman came forward

Red Deer agency reports more than 1,000 lives saved with naloxone

Turning Point distributes 5,855 naloxone kits

WATCH: Ponoka residents enjoy first skate on ice path

A community initiative helped create a skate path for families in Ponoka.

Giddy up: Red Deer to host Canadian Finals Rodeo in 2018

The CFR is expected to bring $20-30 million annually to Red Deer and region

Got milk? Highway reopened near Millet

A southbound truck hauling milk and cartons collided with a bridge

Stettler’s newest residents overcame fear, bloodshed to come here

Daniel Kwizera, Diane Mukasine and kids now permanent residents

Giddy up: Red Deer to host Canadian Finals Rodeo in 2018

The CFR is expected to bring $20-30 million annually to Red Deer and region

Ice dancers Virtue and Moir to carry flag at Pyeongchang Olympics

Not since Kurt Browning at the 1994 Lillehammer Games has a figure… Continue reading

Beer Canada calls on feds to axe increasing beer tax as consumption trends down

OTTAWA — A trade association for Canada’s beer industry wants the federal… Continue reading

Central Albertans recall Hawaii’s false missile alert

Former Red Deer councillor Paul Harris was hanging out at the Ka’anapali… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month