Gym aims to help people achieve optimum performance

Brian Pedersen//October 1, 2019

Gym aims to help people achieve optimum performance

Brian Pedersen//October 1, 2019

Twenty-six years ago, the space served as a gym for women.

Michael Gaugler, co-owner of Optimum Performance Center in Bethlehem Township, demonstrates how to pull a sled. (Photo by Brian Pedersen) –

Today, it’s a gym once more, but this time, aimed at anyone looking to improve mobility, flexibility and strength through specialized training equipment.

Optimum Performance Center marked a grand opening today at 3817 Nazareth Pike in Bethlehem Township.

The gym specializes in powerlifting, Olympic lifting and athletic training in a 5,400-square-foot space in Bethlehem Commerce Plaza, a strip mall.

Michael and Michelle Gaugler of Palmer Township, the husband and wife team who own the gym, recently completed renovations to the interior to add 70 feet of AstroTurf for activities such as flipping tires and pushing or pulling sleds, as well as speed and agility training.

The gym also offers specialized training equipment that includes Rogue power racks, Rogue deadlift platforms and safety squat bars.

In addition, the gym will have two reverse hyper machines that provide traction and strengthen the spine at the same time, and a belt squat machine designed to take the load off the spine while squatting. The gym will also have an inverse curl machine to develop the hamstrings. Jump stretch bands and lifting chains for accommodating resistance aim to help users with increased speed and power output.

It also offers a competitive bench for powerlifting.

The gym offers several levels of membership, including adult training and fitness classes, youth training for sports and athletic performance, and general membership and personal training.

Michelle Gaugler said it was important to allow for open gym membership, so members can come in and train whenever the gym is open.

For new members, the gym uses technology that has a functional screen that examines the seven core movements of a person’s body to determine where each person’s strengths and weaknesses lie.

Gaugler handles the business end of the business while her husband conducts the training sessions.

“He can identify where your vulnerabilities lie and fix it and accelerate them [clients] through a program,” she said. “He’s always teaching athletes how to move through a movement.”

Whether they are top athletes or simply people who want to become more agile and mobile, Gaugler said the gym strives help people determine whether they are using proper form by feeling, rather than by sight. Most commercial gyms have mirrors throughout, but Optimum Performance does not have any.

“A lot of our equipment is meant to mimic how your body actually moves,” she said.

“He wants to get to the root causes of injuries,” so people can train to the best of their abilities, she said. “When I met his clients and they tell me how he helped them when no one else could, I was touched.”

Using evidence-based tools, Michael helped her get stronger because of his style of training, she added.

Before starting this venture, Michael, worked as a strength and conditioning coach with Coordinated Health for almost 13 years, and he started doing more research on sports performance. Gaugler, who has experience in working in business development, works locally as an administrator in the health care field.

When they began to find it difficult to find a good gym in the area to train the way they wanted to, they talked about starting their own.

“We looked at each other and thought, can we get a small business loan?”

They got some help from Lehigh University’s Small Business Development Center, an organization that helped the couple with their business plan.

“It’s a humongous risk, but we believe there’s a market for this in the Lehigh Valley, and we believe in it,” Gaugler said.

While their gym does compete with the sports performance gyms of the large health networks in the region, Gaugler said she believes Optimum offers a more individualized experience.

As an example, class sizes are limited to 10 to 12 people.

For general membership the cost is $70 per month, for unlimited classes and general membership, the cost is $120 per month and for unlimited classes and six personal training sessions, the cost is $140 per month.