Is Get Fit a good fit?

TUPPER LAKE – The joint planning board approved special-use permits for two Park Street businesses at Wednesday night’s meeting.

Jill Parent applied for a permit to operate her hair salon, Hair Connection, at 291 Park St. The business is currently at 85 Park St.

The board approved the permit with little discussion other than a requirement recommended by board member Bob Collier that the address be clearly displayed on the front of the building to make it easily visible to 911 personnel.

Britni Casagrain also applied for a permit to run her dance and fitness studio, Get Fit with Brit, at 111 Park St.

The board made the same stipulation about the business’ address being clearly displayed, but there was more discussion about the nature of the business.

Board member Shawn Stuart said he was concerned that a dance studio might be the wrong kind of business for downtown.

“I really think of Park Street as a retail strip,” Stuart said. “Not that I have a problem with this usage, but it seems like that space is more tailored toward retail, and not a dance studio.”

Stuart then asked Casagrain if she plans on being there long term.

“I hope so,” Casagrain responded. “It’s my business.”

Britni has been running Zumba workshops in Ivy Terrace, the train depot and the basement of the library for about two years. She said people’s steady interest in Zumba inspired her to open a studio.

Barb Casagrain, Britni’s mother-in-law who helps manage Get Fit with Brit, told Stuart the studio would draw people downtown.

“I think it’s a great endeavor; I just don’t know that it’s the right spot for it,” Stuart said. “It’s a large retail space. I just hope, a couple of years from now if it’s a busy retail area, that that would be a big retail store.”

Britni Casagrain explained that the dance studio would appeal to men and women, and it would have a small fitness space in the back, complete with weights.

“There are a lot of people that are overweight,” Britni said. “We have an obesity epidemic. I’ve looked all throughout town, and this is the only affordable space for a dance and fitness studio.”

Barb Casagrain reminded Stuart that the building is for sale and is empty. Stuart conceded that the business would draw people to Park Street.

“I’m all for increased foot traffic on Park Street,” said board member Jim Merrihew. “I think things will work themselves out as the ACR comes about and things really start happening. Right now, foot traffic is important for the people that are down there and trying to hang on. This helps.”

Collier noted that the marketplace would inevitably determine whether or not Park Street is a good location for the business.

The board unanimously approved the permit. Three board members, Jim Larkin, Ben Peets and Jim Ellis, were not present.

After the meeting, Britni said a dance and fitness studio is sorely needed in Tupper Lake.

“People have nothing like this here,” Britni said. “They have to drive all the way to Saranac Lake to get anything like this, and it’s needed. People aren’t happy when they’re overweight or unhealthy, and I think people deserve to be happy.”

Britni said that statement isn’t an assumption. She became a stay-at-home mom after having two kids, and she gained weight. That inspired her to try Zumba.

“I was 60 pounds overweight, and I was miserable,” Britni said. “I decided to try some Zumba DVDs I had at home, and I really liked it. The thing is, if it’s too hard, people aren’t going to do it, but Zumba is fun. It’s like being in a dance club. It tricks people into losing weight.”

Britni said the grand opening of Get Fit with Brit will be in August.