RiseVT has been working with Duke’s Fitness Center in St. Albans and recently certified them as a GOLD business. I was able to catch up with Nate Yandow, the owner for the past 10 years, and talk to him about what makes Duke’s so special!
What motivated you to be the owner of Duke’s?
I had a life changing experience at Duke’s as a high school student athlete, when I started training there in 1994. I knew that I wanted to go into the health field. As many people experience when taking on new healthy habits, it flows into all aspects of your life. I felt that Duke’s was my go to, after getting my Bachelor’s of Science in Nutrition and Exercise Science. I had a brief career as a Public Health Nutritionist at the Vermont Department of Health. I had a great group of co-workers, in a great field, but was feeling slightly confined in a “desk job”. Duke’s Fitness Center is what started the passion and I chose to continue and build on it. I got a business plan together and ended up taking over Duke’s Fitness Center 10 years ago, January 13th 2006.

What makes Duke’s unique?
Duke’s has always had this comfortable and welcoming feel. We are not your typical gym. We have great options in classes with certified instructors, a great variety of equipment and additional space from our 2011 expansion. People are friendly and respectful and support diversity.
We have all seen the gym cliche’s of muscle heads or people walking around like “they own the place”. I don’t even walk around like that. I am reminded that I do own it with the bills and responsibility, but this is an environment that I need to make sure people have what they need. Members joke that I take my job too seriously sometimes but I do feel a need to make sure that we offer everything we can.
We are a clean and welcoming facility for a variety of ages and fitness levels and have most everything that one would need for a balanced training experience. I feel a need for our facility to be running at optimal performance at all times. Each person has different goals from reducing stress, gaining strength, rehabilitation, fat loss, to get off medication, to become a better athlete or prepare for events, whether a wedding, vacation or athletic event or any combination. I feel it’s my job to motivate, educate and support people in these goals or in some case help identify the steps and behaviors to get them there.
What keeps your customers coming back?
Our service is top notch and we are always looking to improve. We ask our members for feedback constantly, and although we can’t please everyone, we aim to do so and people see that and respect my efforts, even if I do fall short on occasion, I will never stop doing my best to provide the best service, equipment and environment we can.
What about your business makes you the most proud?
I am very hard on myself when it comes to my performance, but each day I train and help others reach their goals, it reminds me to be grateful of what we have and to work towards improving, while appreciating our progress.
How has RiseVT helped your business?
RiseVT has helped me take a new perspective on my business. I am aware of more resources that I can offer staff and members to improve their lives and families’ lives. I often work with clients that say I want to change our families activities or food habits but “my family is not on board”. RiseVT is a great support in providing ideas and resources to give a family an extra nudge to make a change together.
Is there anything else that you want to share?
Many people wait until there is a health scare to make a change and get active, eat better, take time to rest, meditate or decompress. Don’t let making healthy changes overwhelm you. There are many aspects of getting healthier, but one step in the right direction is a step in the right direction. Excuses for not making healthy choices don’t make much sense to me, “I’m too busy” or “I don’t have time”, “I’m not a gym person”, “I don’t know what to do”. You have to make time before it’s too late. Duke’s is not your typical gym and we can help you get on a clearer path to better health. We are professionals and are constantly learning new ways to improve ones health. Find a reason to get better, in the mirror, by looking at your family and wanting to be around for them at a greater capacity, and being able to enjoy greater health and longevity to be active into your later years. We have FREE babysitting, classes for 8 year olds and up, 24 hour access, personal training…free for new members to get them started. We try to eliminate the barriers.
Photo: Nate Yandow and Michleen Wright, owners of Duke’s Fitness