A VIBRANT APPROACH TO FITNESS: Tryon Health and Fitness Club

Published 1:30 pm Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

By Zia Terhune


TRYON—If you are at the Tryon Fire Department or Rogers Park and happen to look up, you will not miss a sprawling, 14,000-square-foot blue metal building that can probably be seen from outer space. 

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

The building’s color has been called “cheerful,” “garish,” and huh?” The paint company calls it “agreeable blue.” It’s the home of Tryon Health and Fitness Club and has been owned by Tina Durbin for 24 years. Tina is a self-confident, inspirational woman who started with $200, a big dream and a little help from this community.  

In 1998, Tina was nearly 50 years old, working at the gym part-time and still raising three school-aged children. One day, Tina learned that the business was in deep financial trouble.  Before long she was offered half ownership of the business.  

What would anyone do with an incredible opportunity like that? Tina turned it flat down. She knew that it was all or nothing.  

Soon, she had negotiated full ownership plus a sizable mortgage—not a leap of faith as much as an extreme pole vault into new territory. Tina’s husband was busy with his career, so he was supportive of her buying “a nice little gym.” He wasn’t really involved until months later when he saw the building and almost fainted.

Within the first six months after Tina took the helm, Tryon Health grew from 88 to over 500 members. Since then, Tina has faced huge challenges, like in 2008 when the economy suffered. And again during the covid pandemic, when she was forced to close for three months (this was when the building went from drab gray to blue). But Tina got through it with determination and always focused on helping her clients meet their fitness goals.

Tina Durbin (right) works with Nancy, a gym member. (Photo by Zia Terhune)

Half of the building is devoted to yoga, dance, body sculpting, weight training, personal training and cardio. A separate business, Sizemore Gymnastics Academy, shares the other half. Tina is a personal trainer with clients like Nancy, whose flexibility and strength are surely that of a woman half her age.

From a child of a North Carolina sharecropper family to a successful businesswoman, Tina Durbin is a role model for many. Whether you agree or disagree with the blue paint on the facility, like Tina, it’s here to stay. When asked if she is ready to slow down, she responds, “No, fitness is a gift to myself. It would be fun whether I was paid or not.”