Sherrill Lewis – FHF

Contributing Writer

Barbara and Ed Morris opened the Franklin Health and Fitness Center in 1988.

Dr. Ed Morris stands in the lobby of Franklin Health and Fitness (FHF) and surveys the massive, brightly lit room filled with new cardio equipment.  The rhythmic hum of treadmills, stationary bikes, and ellipticals mixes with the encouraging instructions of the personal trainer working with a client.  He smiles with pride as he talks about what it was like 30 years ago when FHF first opened their doors.

“It was much different, much smaller,” he laughs.  “I never envisioned this. I was a young physician who had just finished my residency when we moved to Franklin.  I wasn’t really that involved in fitness, but I had started getting interested for several reasons,” Morris adds.

With three active boys, he noticed there was no swimming facility in the area. And as his practice grew, he saw an increase in the number of patients with heart disease.  He wanted a safe, monitored environment where these patients could exercise.  Thus began the foundation for what was to become Franklin Health and Fitness. 

The health and wellness facility kicked off its 30th anniversary on Aug. 1.  Founded in 1988 by Dr. Morris and his wife Barbara, the center is now owned and operated by his son Rodney and wife Maura.  Rodney, who was a multi-sport athlete at Western Carolina University, took over the reigns 10 years ago.

Ed credits Rodney for the growth and expansion of the 25,000 square foot center over recent years.  There have been major expansions in 2012, 2014, 2016 and most recently in 2018, with the addition of brand new, state-of-the-art cardio equipment.  “When Rodney took over he visited many facilities across the country.  He also did a lot of research into the rapidly growing fitness industry,” he adds.

Rodney’s guiding force in expanding FHF, he says, has been the diverse and supportive membership base which now numbers more than 2,300. 

Our vision statement is ‘Results for Everyone’, he says.  I strive to listen to all of our members….we want to help each individual reach their fitness goals and enjoy optimum health. It is so gratifying to hear the personal success stories of our FHF family  We are one big family here.”

The family connection is a common thread mentioned by members when they reflect on their personal stories at FHF.  

Vicki VanMarter, a Macon county native, began her wellness journey in September 2017.    She started the 20/30 fast track program, a special weight loss program offered at FHF, after hearing a presentation at the hospital.  She also worked closely with one of the center’s certified personal trainers.  “I reached my goal weight in April of this year, and have even lost an additional 8 pounds….a total weight loss of 100 pounds,” she proudly beams.  “My results have been phenomenal.  The FHF staff has encouraged me every step along the way,” she adds.

Linda Brogden has been a member of FHF since 1991, almost the entire existence of the facility. She emphatically says it is the best thing she has ever done for herself. 

“I became a member in 1991, I primarily joined to relieve stress.  As I got into it, I really started enjoying it  and experiencing the benefits of exercise.  I feel so much better…it is the best thing I have ever done for me,” she adds.  

The 55-member FHF staff is composed of certified personal trainers, specially trained and certified massage therapists and swimming instructors, a licensed dietician, and a welcoming support staff whose primary mission is to encourage and meet the needs of each member. 

FHF offers a wide array of services including personal training, small group exercise training, swimming instruction, massage therapy, and wellness and nutrition instruction.  The center also offers CrossFit and more than 70 different group exercise classes.  The smoothie bar is a popular feature among members. The indoor, heated saltwater swimming pool is open year round for lap swimming during fitness center hours.  Swim lessons and water aerobics are scheduled during convenient hours.

The renovations and expansions that have occurred over the years are the result of listening to the needs of the members Rodney stresses.  “We are proud to be a part of the Macon County community,” he says.  “And we take pride in being the premiere fitness facility in the area.”

FHF will be celebrating their 30 year anniversary during the entire month of August with special membership offers.  A social for members and guests will be held Aug. 23 from 4 to 7 p.m. at FHF, 1214 East Main St., Franklin, with live music, giveaways, beverages and hors d’oeuvres, and exclusive offers.