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Starting a new business can be extremely difficult for anyone. However, starting a fitness facility can be one of the more difficult ventures for an entrepreneur.

Currently, Jared Nichols of Spokane, Wash. is in his first few months of opening his first club, Oz Fitness Airway Heights. Previously, Nichols spent 10 years in the fitness industry in the U.S. and Southeast Asia. It’s the experience and customer service knowledge he received working at 24 Hour Fitness that pushed him to open his own facility.

Nichols’ Oz Fitness location has had its struggles in the past — Nichols is the third owner. However, he is attempting a fresh approach to fitness in his club. He removed his kid area and transformed the space into a “media room.” Nichols equipped the room with an Xbox Kinect and P90X.

Members have the ability to check out Xbox games from the front desk, but are also encouraged to bring their own games from home. “My vision is a consistent infusion of technology,” Nichols explained. “Many people invest in home equipment, videos and games, but still lack the motivation to do this at home. As we know, when nobody is watching, it’s easy to cut corners and quit.”

Nichols believes that by adding the P90X to his club it will bring the “in-home gym” to his club. “This adds to our club’s perceived amenities, and leads to a fun sales tour — play someone in virtual table tennis on tour and you have yourself a new member.”

The previous owners struggled to create a profit from the club’s location, so initially Nichols had to trim some fat from the team. “I let go the personal trainer, two front desk staff, eliminated the kids club and dropped two group fitness classes that were not performing,” he explained. “Labor savings have been a main source of quick turn around. In addition, I have found savings in janitorial, supplies and other operational costs that allowed me to break even in my first full month.

“Reducing 70 percent of my front desk staffing has allowed me to personally work the front desk, providing opportunity to get to know my members. This has been a critical component for saving on labor, increased referral generation and stronger closing percentage. This has also opened the door for corporate partnerships, chamber of commerce involvement and better appointment generation for fitness sales.”

In the crucial first weeks of the opening, Nichols said the time he took with new and current members was crucial. “With myself having direct management on a day-to-day basis ensures members are engaged, listened to and the facility is kept clean and organized,” Nichols explained. “I worked the front desk, sold memberships, worked out and took group fitness classes with my members.”

Nichols has partnered with four area hotels where he offers reduced guest fees for their guests. Also, through a member that is the manager of a local chamber of commerce, Oz Fitness Airway Heights has become a cross-promotional partner. “I truly have finally become one of those people where work no longer feels like a job.” -CS

By Tyler Montgomery

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