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Armstrong Fitness is 'finally broken'

POULSBO — The owner of a local health club and shoe store is calling it quits after more than a year of tough circumstances.

Ann Armstrong, owner of Armstrong Fitness University, Armstrong Physical Therapy and Kitsap Running & Walking Co., released a statement to the Herald detailing her decision to end operations after nearly 18 years in business.

"It is indeed with great sadness that finally my businesses are closing after such a long and storied run in Poulsbo," Armstrong said.

She cited the Viking Way gasoline spill of 2007, which forced her gym to relocate for clients' health, as well as a following string of moving logistics, medical billing issues, the nationwide economic downtown and this month's tragic accident in which a 7-year-old boy was killed after weight equipment came down on him as factors leading to the closings.

"We have no choice but to close our doors forever," she wrote.

Armstrong Fitness and Armstrong Physical Therapy closed last Friday, and Kitsap Running & Walking employee Ellen Dougherty said the shoe store could be closed before the end of the week. Inventory is currently discounted.

"I know it was a really hard decision for Ann, but it was something that she had to make," Dougherty said. She and Brad Rose, another of Armstrong's personal trainers, will offer their services through Ultimate Performance at the start of next month. Dougherty said Armstrong gave her the opportunity to increase her involvement in the shop, and became a close and inspiring friend, "as close as you could be to being sisters."

"I myself have put a lot into the store," Dougherty said. "She (Armstrong) had a lot of hope in me and a lot of faith in me."

In her statement, Armstrong said she began business almost two decades ago with a house-call oriented practice. She wrote she injected even her personal finances into her businesses, to no avail.

"But we won't forget all those that have come through our doors," said Armstrong, "who have enjoyed the fellowship and community of our small family friendly gym, and those whose lives we have hopefully enriched even just a little."

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