Terry Curry had never really been in a gym before. She credits the Chehalis River flood of 1996 with changing all that.

The natural disaster caused both personal and professional heartache for Curry. Her house had suffered considerable damage and was partially submerged. In addition, her successful dog grooming business was also affected by the natural disaster as she ran the operation out of her house.

windermere centralia“It really devastated everything I had,” Curry said.

Turning to Fitness

Overwhelmed, Curry, who had fought and scraped to create the grooming company from the ground up, understandably slipped into a bout of depression.

“It was stressful. I had gone to the doctor because I wasn’t feeling well. I was running the business, putting my house back together, and raising my daughter at the same time,” Curry said. “It was very stressful. I told my doctor I wasn’t feeling well and I wasn’t sleeping. She said I needed to change something and told me to go to the gym.”

fitscape centralia
Terry Curry took her first step into a gym when she was 40.

Hesitant at first and intimidated by the entire process, she eventually agreed to give the advice a try.

“I was 40 when I first went to the gym. Thorbeckes was practically right across the street, but I had never really gone in before,” Curry said. “I entered and was scared. I looked around and I didn’t even know what to do.”

It’s been 20 years since she first stepped into the gym. She really hasn’t left since.

Curry, who owns and operates FitScape Health Club in Centralia, can be found at her gym Mondays through Thursdays from around 5:30 a.m. until 8:30 p.m. Some of those 15-hour days she’ll train as many as 14 clients.

Life Before FitScape Health Club 

Curry has many bodybuilding titles to her name and has also conditioned others to similar feats. But before that, she bred and trained champion show dogs.

If you go back even further, you’ll find her at Yardbirds, where she wore many hats. “I did everything from scooping ice cream and worked my way up to do office work,” said Curry, who was born and raised in Centralia. “I wanted to open a small business. Instead of going to college for business, every time I did something well, I asked to move on to something new. I would do accounts payable then accounts receivable, then buying, then working with vendors. I got my feet wet business-wise that way.”

Curry knew exactly what her small business venture would be. She had always loved pets. She had even turned her cocker spaniel into a champion show dog in 1984.

“I went everywhere (to show dogs) – wherever there was an AKC (American Kennel Club) Conformation,” Curry said. “I started breeding and the first litter I bred had a dog that went on to win five 3-point majors in a row.”

“I was still working at Yardbirds at the time,” she continues. “People didn’t want to send their dogs to kennel. So, I started boarding my friends’ dogs. No one was doing that back then. I basically went from training to grooming and all from my house. I would clean the dogs up and wash them in my laundry sink at home, and I loved it.”

fitscape centralia
Prior to owning FitScape Health Club, Terry Curry ran a successful dog grooming business out of her home.

Although widespread now, all-inclusive pet centers were few and far between 30 years ago.

Devoted to Pets 

“I had done my research and knew this would be lucrative,” Curry said. “I had a great job with Payless, who owned Yardbirds, but I didn’t want to live my life just for the money. So, I went to school to be a dog groomer.”

But where does one go to attend dog grooming school in 1986?

“Portland,” Curry said with a sigh. “My mom and I went down to Portland and lived down there Monday through Friday. My daughter was three-months-old. My mom stayed with her during the day when I went to school.”

A total of 600 hours at Portland’s Tara Lara School of Dog Grooming later and Curry was now a certified master dog groomer.

Her business would flourish for the next decade.

Impact of the 1996 Chehalis River Flood

Then one of the state’s most damaging floods hit, altering everything.

“The kennel and the house flooded really bad,” Curry said. “I couldn’t get any help. I got stuck between the Small Business Administration and FEMA. Somehow the paperwork got garbled up. I got maybe $21,000 to repair everything. So, I liquidated my IRA. My dad and I spent quite a long time remodeling the whole home. We got the house fixed, but in the meantime I was still running the business in the back. We had to completely strip it down. We lived like that for quite a while.”

While the house was getting renovated, Curry was making similar improvements to herself by making frequent trips to the gym.

“It just felt natural. After three months I made so much progress, not only aesthetically, but also how my body responded to the training,” Curry said. “I just loved it. I remember the first time I noticed I had muscles. I was so happy.” 

She entered her first competitive bodybuilding show in September 1998, winning first overall.

Bodybuilding After Age 40

“I got into (bodybuilding) really late. I was 42, but I was hooked,” Curry said. “It was appealing to me. It was challenging and anytime you challenge me, within reason, I want to overcome it.”

More titles followed, including the 2001 Evergreen State title. She opened her first gym in 1999. For two years, she ran both the gym and her pet center business before selling the later in 2001.

fitscape centralia
Terry Curry is back at FitScape Health Club after she was sidelined by complications from a minor surgery.

Prior to Nationals in 2003 another obstacle surfaced when she went in for minor surgery to repair some scar tissue.

“We still don’t know exactly what happened, but some of the muscles in my abdomen started to die,” said Curry about what happened following the injury. “I had excruciating pain on and off for about a year.”

Although she began training individuals over the last 10 years, the injury sidelined Curry for nearly a dozen years. Once able to complete 400-pound leg extension, she was now restricted to 40 pounds to avoid any risk of further injuring herself.

But the fighter in her continued to push through, and approximately one year ago, at the age of 60, the pain subsided enough to allow her to re-dedicate herself to the sport she loves, while continuing to condition other athletes.

“I just decided to raise the bar with myself again,” said Curry, who opened her current gym in 2009. “There are plenty of times where I go, ‘What am I even thinking?’ There’s a million situations where that happens. It’s such a sacrifice. It’s your whole life. You can’t separate it out when you’re competing. You can quit bodybuilding though. If you get beat down, you can just say you’re done and walk away. The fact that you persevere through it is what makes you tough.”

FitScape Health Club
1610 S. Gold Street in Centralia

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