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Iconic Paramus Gym Flexes On 25 Years Of Fitness

Art Carril, left, and Mike Epstein opened Gold's Gym in Paramus 25 years ago May 26.
Art Carril, left, and Mike Epstein opened Gold's Gym in Paramus 25 years ago May 26. Photo Credit: Cecilia Levine

PARAMUS, N.J. — The week after the final episode of "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson" aired on NBC, Gold's Gym of Paramus opened its doors.

May 26, 1992.

Does that put 25 years in perspective?

Owners Mike Epstein and Art Carril were college roommates together and both longtime athletes.

They went their separate ways after graduation — Epstein worked at a New York City consulting firm and Carril built custom homes as an engineer.

They kept their shared dream of owning a business together on the back burner until the early 90s, when they visited the iconic Gold's Gym in Venice Beach, popularized by Arnold Schwarzenegger.

When they returned from California, Epstein and Carril put things into motion for a Paramus Gold's Gym.

"Gold's had a lot of meaning — serious fitness," said Epstein of River Vale, formerly of New City. "Having that California mystique and having a real American brand that stood for strength and fitness was really appealing to us."

The gym's mission is two-fold: to get people in shape and give back to the community. The latter is what the owners say differentiates their gym from all the rest.

Epstein and Carril launched the first Gold’s Gym Bike Team to ride for diabetes, and are now one of the national sponsors of the Tour de Cure Ride for the American Diabetes Association.

Gold's Paramus is a founding partner of the Annual Paramus Weight Loss Challenge, which helped Paramus residents lose a combined 900 pounds in 12 weeks.

It's also been named Franchisee of the Year, Visionary of the Year and top Tour de Cure Team by Gold’s Gym International.

"That drive of using health and fitness as a vehicle to help people get healthy and then use it to help others has been a real blessing for us," said Epstein, a longtime member of the Paramus Chamber of Commerce.

The greatest change at the gym in its 25 years of existence has been the variety in classes offered, the owners say.

In the 1990s, step was the most popular fitness class. These days, members are coming for yoga, Zumba Fitness, kick boxing and even a CrossFit class.

Stroll through the cardio section and you'll see a television screen on almost every machine. Personalized entertainment from movies to competitive stationary bike racing helps keep members on the cardio machines longer, the owners explained.

Epstein and Carril are also seeing a wider variety of people in their facility, specifically the classrooms.

"We've got 88-year-old women doing body combat," Epstein said. "You didn't see that back then."

The gym's Silver Sneakers program has nearly 300 people between 60 to 90 years old enrolled.

"They got woken up," said Carril of Old Tappan. "They want to live longer."

"We just want to provide the best exercise experience we can in a friendly environment," Epstein added.

"We want everyone to feel like they have a place to go where people will care, no one gets judged and we can help them get somewhere — wherever they want to go."

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