Julia Panepinto warming up for deadlifts in September 2020 at Kennebec Valley Health Club in Farmingdale. File Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

FARMINGDALE — When Sharon Roy decided it was time to sell her business, she had one request for the broker: don’t put up a “For Sale” sign.

“I just can’t have this,” Roy said recently. “I can’t drive my members in every day and see a sign. This sows doubt in the community.

For 45 years, Roy ran the Kennebec Valley Health Club at 11 KV Lane in Farmingdale, first with her husband, Kim Brouillet, who died after being diagnosed with cancer, and now alone.

Roy says that as she approaches her 65th birthday, she is ready for someone else to take over the business.

Preserving this community was critically important to both Roy and Scott Coutts, who bought the business. The deal closed on Monday; terms were not disclosed.

“He was afraid someone would buy (the property) and turn it into offices and lose the connection to the community,” Roy said.

For generations of people who have used the facility, she says, the fitness center has been their home and a kind of extended family.

The family atmosphere was a magnet for Coutts, which owns and operates two local businesses with its partners: Coutts Bros. in Randolph, which does utility and power line construction, and Quirion Construction in Augusta, which does residential and commercial earthworks. among others.

His connection to the fitness center dates back to his teenage years and he did his first bodybuilding show there.

“(They) were nice enough to give me a key when I couldn’t make it in time,” Coutts said. “I was able to train during off-peak hours. It is a very good family atmosphere. Good energy.”

Although he never imagined he would own a gym, he said, the Farmingdale club is an established family business, like Coutts Bros. and Quirion Construction.

“I’m not doing this for financial gain, and I know it’s happening there,” he said. “It’s more of an emotional decision on my part because of the community and keeping him in the gym.”

Kennebec Valley Health Club opened in 1977 in a small rental in Augusta. At this time, Roy was enrolled in nursing school and was married to Brouillet.

Brouillet had bought the gymnasium and told his wife that he planned to buy out the owner. Although he earned a degree in criminology, Brouillet was also a natural athlete and competed in the shot put at the junior Olympics, Roy said. He took the opportunity to develop the health club.

The business grew by adding a women’s program, hosting powerlifting competitions, and sparking interest in bodybuilding. With each expansion, they sought other spaces but eventually ended up in Farmingdale. Faced with a new move, they decided to build their own space. They opened the current facility in 1992.

In 1998, Brouillet was diagnosed with melanoma, a type of skin cancer. At that point, she said, he left her to run the operation while he focused on the treatment. He died in 2004 at age 52.

Taking on the day-to-day running of the operation gave her a stronger backbone, she said, but it also tested her, as did the comments she heard from clients expressing doubts about her ability. to continue on its own.

“The naysayers said, ‘I’m giving it six months,'” she said. “I said, ‘Look at me, baby. I did it.'”

But she also ran the risk of overdoing it by working long hours and days in a row without a break; it was then that she hired Ron Gallagher as manager.

Along the way, Roy earned certifications as a nutrition and wellness consultant. She is a personal trainer, senior fitness specialist and golf fitness instructor.

She also developed running teams and Silver Sneakers programs for older clients, which in turn helped build communities of friends. This thread of community is also visible in the photos she pinned to her office door that show the different generations of families in the area who have become clients.

“I live with no regrets,” she said. “I try to look at my options and make the best decision based on what’s best for me and the people around me. I can’t say that I would have liked to have done something different, because it wouldn’t have brought me to this place.

“This place” includes her marriage to Colin Roy, a retired school athletic director who spent 26 years at Hall-Dale Middle and High School, whom she met in 2008.

Although she plans to continue as a coach at the center, she said she hopes to spend more time playing golf with her husband and not getting up at 2:30 a.m. to open the gymnasium to early risers. .

Coutts said he has short-term and long-term plans for the center. First on the list is updating some cardio equipment. He also plans to talk to members about what they would like to see.

“I want to bring in fresh, young blood and transition to involving younger members and some area sports teams at the high school level,” he said.

Coutts said Gallagher would continue as manager.

“It would be a travesty not to have a gymnasium in the Gardiner-Farmingdale area,” Coutts said.

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