Andy Baxter of Baxter Fitness Solutions demonstrates some workout equipment in his Ashland gym. - Bob Pennell

Andy Baxter's mission is to get people over 50 healthy and strong

Editor's note: This is one in a weekly series of profiles on locally owned and operated businesses in Southern Oregon.

What do you do and how long have you been doing it? I'm a medical exercise specialist, and I've been doing this for about 21 years. I've been working with the over-50 population going on about 12 years. We opened the Ashland office five years ago.

How long have you lived in the Rogue Valley? My wife, Denise, and I moved here in 2000 from Oakland, Calif.

What inspired you to go into this line of work? I was doing post-rehab training in the San Francisco Bay Area. We were getting patients who didn't know what they were supposed to be doing once they got out of physical therapy. That was the impetus behind creating our exercise system. I owned a gym called New Angle Fitness in Oakland at the time. We honed the system through field application over the years and we got it to the point where we could apply for a patent, and we're patent-pending now.

What decision or action would you change if you could do it again? I would delegate more. Initially, in dealing with the whole concept of quality control, I assumed if I didn't do it myself it wouldn't get done. I learned the hard way the most valuable thing you can do is surround yourself with really good people. That way you trust them and they trust you and you can delegate with confidence. When I went into business for myself I was a one-person show, working as many as 16 hours a day, then you realize there is a ceiling to how much you can do. I went through the hardship that probably most small business owners do, of hiring people and not always succeeding. What I've found over the years, you tend to attract the right people through your own actions.

What's the toughest business decision you've made? Cutting people's hours during economic decline. All of a sudden you realize people are dependent on you and that's a lot of responsibility. It was new for me.

Who are your competitors? We've been asked that over the years. I don't think of us as having competitors because we're in such a speciality niche using medical-based exercise protocols. We don't compete with the YMCA or other private gyms directly. We're more friendly with our competitors than competitive. If we are all trying to help people, we really have the same goal.

What are your goals? As we grow the licensing arm of the business, Ageless Fitness Systems (, the idea is to put more facilities into hospital-based wellness programs, physical therapy offices and retirement homes. More immediately, we have a new equipment line, called the Function Line, which is four pieces of equipment I've invented that tie into a measurement device made by Cybex's medical division. We use Seifit exercise equipment and they're going to build and market my new equipment under their label by the beginning of 2010. We're pitching this stuff to Major League Baseball, the PGA and LPGA tours and probably the National Hockey League, as well. Aside from the medical rehab side, it can also be used for improved performance.

What training or education did you need? My first certification was at the Health and Fitness Institute at Cal State Hayward. In the post-rehab we do I've got certification as a medical exercise specialist from the American Academy of Health, Fitness and Rehabilitation Specialists. When we license a system, the level of the system determines the minimum education requirements. As determined by Michael Jones of AAHFRS and me. Over the years, I've obtained seven certifications.

What's your advice for budding entrepreneurs? I only go with what I know, and that's to attack at 100 miles per hour all the time, and that seems to work.

To suggest ideas for this column, about businesses that are at least five years old, contact reporter Greg Stiles at 776-4463 or e-mail

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