Metro Detroit's Gym Scene Expanding, But Not For Heavy Lifters

Big muscles. Heavy weights. Loud grunts.

Such were the sights and sounds of the metro Detroit fitness club industry in the 1970s, when brothers William and Norman Dabish opened their first Powerhouse Gym in Highland Park.

To build membership, they gave free passes to hardcore bodybuilders, cultivating a “macho” image for their burgeoning gym chain, which, at the time, was synonymous with good business.

But bulging biceps and ripped physiques aren’t nearly so attractive in today’s vastly changed gym business environment. As large national chains continue to expand in suburban Detroit and Michigan with newer locations aimed at casual exercisers and families, having a testosterone-drenched gym floor can be more liability than asset.