The Kingston business and fitness communities were saddened this week by the death of MAC Fitness owner and founder Lyle Schuler. Schuler is survived by his wife, Holly, and his son, Colton.
“It is with great sadness and heavy hearts that we inform the community that our founder, owner, and friend Lyle Schuler has passed away after battling an illness,” read a statement on the MAC Fitness Facebook page. “Lyle was incredibly brave and remained very private throughout his fight.”
Schuler had a long history in health club management, ownership and club consulting before he purchased the 40,000-square-foot Gold’s Gym in Kingston in November 2002, rebranding the health center as MAC Fitness and finding enough success that he was able to expand the operation three years later. A second location of MAC Fitness opened in Kingston Plaza in 2008, and after the closure of the 9W location earlier this year, remains active and popular.
Schuler was also in demand as a consultant to other health clubs, traveling to 38 different states to assist in management, personal training programs, club systems and cost-effective marketing.
But he may have done his best work close to home. A 1974 Kingston High School graduate, Schuler was active in the Ulster County Chamber of Commerce, receiving numerous awards, most recently the organization’s Honorary Irish Person of the Year, traditionally given to someone of non-Irish lineage who has served the community at large.
“The entire Chamber community is saddened by the news of Lyle’s passing,” said Chamber President Ward Todd. “He was not only a great local small business owner, but a good friend to all of us. He had great energy and was extremely hard-working. He loved life and lived it to its fullest. He loved getting people involved in his fitness centers and getting them involved in a healthier lifestyle. He felt that was his mission in life.”
Todd said Schuler was an annual participant in the Buy Local Expo, and hosted the Chamber’s annual January Mixer to both promote his fitness centers and give members a chance to network and make business connections. “We extend our sincere sympathies to his wife Holly and son Colton,” said Todd.
Other local business leaders honored Schuler this week, including Jane Garrity of the Kingston Uptown Business Association. “Lyle’s passing has saddened the entire community,” said Garrity. “He represented the spirit of the Kingston business community in his entrepreneurial endeavors with his ability to bring people together in a most generous way. He will be missed and remembered by all. I am sorry he won’t be among us to enjoy the emerging renaissance of Uptown. His spirit will remain ever-present.”
Ralph Longendyke of Glasco was a friend, classmate and teammate of Schuler’s on the powerhouse Kingston High School football teams of the early 1970s. While Schuler went on to stand out in college as a running back at SUNY Cortland, Longendyke said the Tigers were so deep that Schuler could only get on the field as a punter. “That was our thing,” Longendyke recalled this week. “I would say, ‘Hey, punter.’ That was about as bad as hazing got back then.”
While his business acumen and managerial skills were undeniable, his lasting legacy is likely to be felt in how he helped people achieve their fitness and wellness goals. Always There, a Kingston-based agency specializing in home care, gave Schuler its Individual Award in 2011 for his work on the Silver Sneakers Program, a health and exercise program for local seniors.
Schuler’s wife, Holly Snow-Schuler, touched on his love of helping people improve their lives. “Lyle’s death is most painful because he is one of those rare people who made a difference,” she said. “People around him were better because he cared and he made his small space in the world something special. Lyle had the uncanny ability of making everyone around him feel like they were the most important person in the world. His passion and energy were contagious. He was known by all to be an amazing, caring and inspiring leader, who always put everyone first. Lyle will always be remembered for his wonderful kindness, persistence, perseverance, and wonderful energy that he brought to everything he was involved with. He put his heart and soul into all he did, he was loved by all and he will be greatly missed.”
Schuler will be reposing at the Simpson-Gaus Funeral Home at 411 Albany Avenue on Friday, Sept. 29 from 1-8 p.m. A funeral service will be held at the Hurley Reformed Church on Saturday, Sept. 30 at 11 a.m., with Pastor Robert L. Gram officiating. The subsequent interment will be private.