The European Health Spa in Niskayuna opened with Brolin — but without Atlas.
The exercise franchise celebrated its first day in business on Balltown Road on March 7, 1974. The spa owners had submitted plans for a statue of Greek mythology’s Atlas — complete with a model of the world on his shoulders — for the grounds. Niskayuna zoning board members nixed the idea for commercial and artistic reasons.
Town officials had no problem with actor James Brolin showing up to celebrate the opening. Brolin was a rising movie star at the time, thanks to his role as motorcycle-riding Dr. Steven Kiley in ABC’s “Marcus Welby, M.D.” He would star in 1970s movies such as “Westworld” and “Capricorn One.”
Brolin and Miss New York State, JoAnn Miller, posed for pictures and signed autographs for politicians and fans.
Atlas had shown up on the grounds of other European spas, which were licensed by exercise aficionado Jack LaLanne. The spas were later licensed to the Bally company, and the Balltown Road property eventually became Holiday Health and Bally’s Total Fitness.
On a roll
Other people were exercising in March 1974. Roller skaters Audrey Latterick and Dorian DeNegris had just passed a gold medal test for proficiency during Northeast Gold Medal testing in Rhode Island. The skaters rolled at Rollerama on Hamburg Street in Rotterdam.
Bakers and tasters also were on the move, in West Glenville. Members of the local Grange exercised their baking skills for pies and jelly rolls; other Grange personnel exercised their taste buds to determine winners.
Jay Musler and friends in the Capital District Miss Universe Pageant settled for smiling, and prepared for the March competition.