DEREK CARSON, Staff Writer

BENNINGTON -- Off The Wall Fitness Center has announced that it has been awarded a $35,000 loan by the Town of Bennington’s business loan program.

The 12,000-square-foot fitness center, located at 160 Benmont Ave., will use the funding to purchase new cardio equipment, according to a press release.

Huff Templeton, owner of Off the Wall, says the investment by the town is covers only a portion of the upgrades planned for the gym in the upcoming year. "This loan will make it possible to provide the latest treadmill and other cardio equipment technology to complement our group fitness, strength training, and racquetball."

Templeton said that he is looking to purchase six new pieces of equipment with the funds, including four new treadmills. He added that the fitness center hopes to have the equipment in place soon, "to help fulfill residents’ New Year resolutions."

According to a press release, Bennington’s business loan program was developed more than 20 years ago to support business growth within the community. The program currently has 24 active business loans, with a current balance of $552,000. The funds originate from federal grants, and provide applicants with flexible payback options and low interest rates, making it easier to do business in Bennington.

According to the Office of Economic and Community Development, the goal of the program is "to proactively shape the landscape of the Town by assisting with the growth of business and the community in which they exist."

"Businesses who need to upgrade equipment, renovate an existing space, or would like to start a new business are able to use this program to do so, which in turn serves the needs of the greater community" said Michael Harrington, Bennington’s economic and community development director.

While Harrington could not give details on which other companies had taken out loans from the program due to privacy concerns, he did say the program has benefited Crazy Russian Girls Neighborhood Bakery, 443 Main St., which has been open about their involvement with the program in the past.

"The program does what its intended to do: It identifies businesses that are new or growing, who may not have the equity yet, or the financing to grow their business," said Harrington. He added that the program continues to either sustain or boost job growth in the town.

According to Off the Wall’s website, www.offthewallgym.com, the fitness center offers group fitness classes in Zumba, as well as classes entitled BodyPump, BodyFlow, BodyCombat, BodyStep, RPM & The Ride, Sh’Bam, yoga and SilverSneakers. Membership plans start at $19.95 per month, for access to cardio equipment only, and require a 12-month commitment. A $29.95 per month plan with a 12-month commitment gives gym-goers access to all of the fitness center’s classes and racquetball. These new rates were introduced about a month ago.

Derek Carson can be reached for comment at dcarson@benningtonbanner.com. Follow him on Twitter @DerekCarsonBB.