BETHANY — When the Oklahoma City robotic exercise chain Tan and Tone America abruptly closed all of its metro area stores in 2012, former member Barbara Brown saw potential.
Along with husband Jerry Brown, Barbara purchased some of Tan and Tone’s exercise equipment and has opened Core Strong Toning Center in a restored historic building in downtown Bethany.
Although she has spent time as a courtroom bailiff and working at a law office, along with stints as a stay-at-home mom, Barbara Brown had always wanted to own her own business.
“I thought I would go to the auction to see just how cheap the equipment was going for and then maybe I would buy some of it for myself,” Barbara Brown said. “I ended up getting a great bargain and bought enough stuff to make a toning center.”
Core Strong features three sets of toning tables—a total of 21 pieces of equipment, as well as recumbent bikes. The Browns hope the toning center will appeal to people who feel like they don’t fit in at a traditional fitness center, or who can’t workout on a treadmill or other machines because of joint or back problems. The robotic exercise machines are designed to strengthen or flex different parts of the body, with an emphasis on the core muscles.
The Browns last year bought a vacant, 104-year-old brick building that now houses Core Strong at 6734 NW 39 Street in downtown Bethany. Jerry Brown, a retired general contractor, completely renovated the building, which was once the home of a print shop. The building is just across the street from Southern Nazarene University.
“The building was literally falling in on itself, but it was just the ideal location for what we wanted,” Jerry Brown said.
Core Strong isn’t the first business to try and make a go of it from the ashes of Tan and Tone America. A former Tan and Tone America manager opened Val’s Sun and Shape last year at the former Tan and Tone America location at Main Street and Eastern Avenue in Moore.
After nearly 30 years in business, Tan and Tone America closed 16 metro area locations in July 2012 and auctioned all of the equipment from the business, including more than 300 toning machines and 275 tanning beds. The proceeds of the auction went toward pay off the business’s debt.
Three of the Tan and Tone America locations that closed in 2012 were in northwest Oklahoma City, and Barbara Brown thinks she could lure some of those stores’ former customers back with her Bethany toning center.
“I’m hoping to connect with all of those clients they had in this area,” she said.