The Times West Virginian

January 13, 2013

Nautilus Connection raises bar for fitness, wellness

By Jessica Borders
Times West Virginian

FAIRMONT — Nautilus Connection in Fairmont has “raised the bar in Marion County for fitness and wellness,” said owner Steve Dodd.

The facility, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this month, has been redesigned and now features brand new equipment. Dodd said this is the biggest change that the club has made in its history, and is the result of more than a year and a half of planning and research.

Dodd, who has a background in art and architecture, did all the remodeling and redesigned the place using a contemporary style. The project included replacing everything from the floor to the ceiling, which he said has given the gym more of a homey feel.

“Stronger than Ever” is the universal slogan for the fitness company Nautilus, but this saying especially works well for the Fairmont gym. Nautilus Connection is now stronger than ever in its offerings for physical fitness and also business-wise, Dodd said.

“There’s no local competitor that’ll compare to what you see (here),” he said. “I challenge anyone to come in and see our facility and find something that’ll beat it and beat it at our price. I’m giving you a better atmosphere, a better facility, better quality equipment, better service, but at a better price.”

Rather than having a big, open room where everyone can see everyone else working out, the gym is segmented for the type of exercise that its clients want to do. While the members are friendly and interact well together, they love having their own separate spaces, Dodd said.

Nautilus Connection has quality, top-of-the-line equipment that customers have never seen before and can’t be found anywhere else in the state, he said.

“I picked the best, user-friendly, accessible equipment that gets great results,” he said.

Dodd said the universal programming of the new Technogym cardio equipment makes it easy for clients to learn how to use different machines, from a stepper or treadmill to a crossover unit or bike. Clients can quickly and conveniently change the speed or intensity of their workout by pushing the buttons on the handles. The machines also monitor heart rate and are very quiet.

Nautilus Connection has a couple thousand square feet of just leg equipment, including standard free weights and multiple leg presses and other pieces that are popular with clients, all from top companies, he said. The gym also has a new line of strength equipment called Star Trac Leverage that is adjustable and designed for full-range motion, and dumbbells of up to 150 pounds.

Clients can do their workout at their own pace without having to stand in line, and the gym is laid out nicely so they have space to move between machines, Dodd said.

In addition, the facility features Kinesis Stations from Technogym that allow for a total body workout and 360 degrees of motion, he said. For instance, swimmers or golfers can strengthen the muscles used in their sports by doing complete strokes with resistance.

In addition to athletes, this equipment is good for people who need rehabilitation and can’t do much leg or arm work, and seniors who have difficulty using standard exercise machines. There’s no size requirement, so younger clientele can get a safe, effective workout, too, Dodd said.

“Your imagination is the limit to the movements you can do,” he said. “It fits the size of any person. It’s three-dimensional movements the way you want to move.”

Another unique offering at Nautilus Connection is Fitness On Request. At a touch-screen kiosk, clients can select a beginner, intermediate or advanced class in yoga, Zumba, aerobics, weight training, spinning or other exercise programs, and it plays on a big-screen TV.

The classes are taught by top fitness and aerobic professionals in the country, and the company sends new sessions every month. Clients can schedule times to take classes, or they can use the room during open times, Dodd said.

Nautilus Connection’s pool area is in the process of being finished. He said the flooring around the pool has been redone and is being topped with oiled teak wood. The walls will be repainted and adorned with mirrors, and a waterfall is in the process of being built. A Jacuzzi and sauna are available.

Located behind the gym in a separate building is a private training studio for groups of up to 16 people, which opened about two years ago. The studio has 22 TRX training stations and is used for kettlebell and circuit training classes, Dodd said.

He also works with clients on a regular basis as part of The Diet Doc Permanent Weight Loss Program to help them live healthier with their lifestyles.

Mike O’Hearn, one of Dodd’s Diet Doc clients, said he has lost almost 20 pounds in about six weeks. He and his wife, Nadia, are doing the program together.

Mike mainly swims at the Nautilus, where he has been a member since 1994. He said the facility is really nice, and the redesign is beautiful.

“I like it here because it’s just a friendly atmosphere,” he said. “I know everybody that comes in here now. It’s just a nice, relaxed attitude, and if you want a supervised workout, you just have to ask for it. For the price, to me, you can’t beat it.”

Doug Bunner, another Diet Doc client, has been working out at the Nautilus for a little over year. He enjoys walking on the treadmill and doing the resistance machines, and he also takes advantage of the hot tub and pool.

He said Dodd is very knowledgeable about nutrition and has helped him maintain consistent eating habits with his diabetes. Bunner, who is retired, said he’s more physically fit now than when he was working, and being in shape has helped with all aspects of his life.

“It gives me a good mind set,” he said. “It’s positive. I love it. This has really been great.”

Dodd, from Fairmont, said he owes the success of his business to the community, which has supported him over the years. He wanted to do something to show his appreciation to Fairmont, so he decided to make this considerable investment in his facility.

After bringing in new machines, he also gave back to the community by donating approximately $100,000 worth of used equipment to North Marion High School. He thanked all the teachers who put in the effort to haul the machines away, and the Marion County Board of Education thanked Dodd for his generous gift at a recent meeting.

Nautilus Connection is holding a 25th anniversary open house this Saturday, Jan. 19, with several seminars.

Dr. Joe Klemczewski, founder of The Diet Doc, will talk about the “5 Secrets of Permanent Weigh Loss,” and Kori Propst, wellness director at The Diet Doc, will give a presentation titled “It’s All in Your Head! How to Prime Your Mind for Permanent Weight Loss!” Also, Dr. Greg Bradley-Popovich, who holds advanced degrees in exercise physiology, human nutrition and physical therapy, will speak on “Diabetes in the Mountain State: Causes and Cures.”

Anyone is welcome to come to the event. People can call the Nautilus Connection at 304-366-4776 for times or more information.

Email Jessica Borders at or follow her on Twitter @JBordersTWV.