A Newlywed Take on Upscale Fitness
The Inwood Village shopping center in Dallas, Texas, plays host to a number of award-winning restaurants, unique boutiques and the historic Inwood Theatre, which was built in 1947. A premier destination for everything from entertainment and shopping to fine dining, Inwood Village is known for its blend of the unique and historic.
Sweat, an industrial-style boutique gym, fulfilled the fitness criterion for Inwood Village when it opened in October 2011. Owned and operated by Kegan and Katie Corkill, the couple said they set out to open a gym that was upscale, without the “pretentiousness” that can be associated with being located in a high-end area.
“Our location in Dallas is surrounded by great family-oriented, high-end neighborhoods that place a high value on health and fitness,” said Kegan. “We wanted to offer the amenities of a full-size club, but the more experienced trainers and ‘Cheers’ feel of a training studio, where everyone knows your name. We are upscale without the pretentiousness.”
According to Katie, the local community’s values are part of what she liked best about Sweat’s location. “It’s an affluent area, and people really value fitness, health and wellness,” she said. “It’s nice to see people invested in their well-being.”
The Corkill’s agreed that they picked a tough time to open their small business. “It was 2011 and the market was still struggling to recover,” said Kegan. “Most banks weren’t lending any money for a startup. Fortunately, we were incredibly blessed to have a great group of investors — who also happen to be a collection of great business minds — that stepped up and took a chance on two, 29-year-old newlyweds.”
Sweat, a 10,000-square-foot club, has grown to approximately 600 members. “We saw what other clubs were doing and knew what worked, and what didn’t, and how we could improve on it to create our own business model,” said Kegan.
According to Kegan, personal training is “the bread and butter” of Sweat. Kegan attributed the club’s personal training success to its seasoned trainers who are committed to the facility and members’ success. “[Our trainers] are in it for the long haul and have a genuine desire to help people,” said Kegan. “Along with training, we also have several trainers that offer some form of therapeutic technique ranging from Muscle Activation Technique (MAT), massage and traditional physical therapy. This has really helped to set our personal training department apart from the rest.”
In addition to a strong personal training department, Kegan and Katie knew that hiring a great general manager would be key to Sweat’s success and notoriety in Inwood Village. “You can’t be successful if you don’t have good people around you,” said Kegan. “For us, our general manager, Joe Long, sets the standard and keeps the expectations high. He does a great job developing relationships and maintaining the family atmosphere in the gym, and it doesn’t hurt that he’s great at sales.”
Along with a great team, Sweat offers unique amenities that Kegan said members love, including AlterG, or anti-gravity treadmills, and Fitness on Demand. “Those amenities give us a bit of an advantage over other clubs in the area,” said Kegan.
In addition, Katie said members love Sweat’s unique atmosphere. A garage door remains open during pleasant weather, and large windows provide for plenty of natural lighting. “A lot of people comment on the natural lighting and the open gym layout,” said Katie. “It really increases the energy — it doesn’t make you feel like you’re working out in a gym.”
Kegan said the one thing members love the most is the Corkill’s presence within the club. Both are personal trainers. “I think people love the fact that my wife and I are also trainers,” said Kegan. “The members like that they can easily come up and talk to us if they have questions or issues.”
“It puts more pressure on our end to respond to requests, because we see our members every day,” said Katie. “We’re a part of our members’ workouts much more than we would be if our names were just on the door.”
As for how the couple came up with the name “Sweat,” Kegan said he and Katie tossed around ideas to friends and family until something stuck. “When we started running [our ideas] by our friends and family, everyone had the same reaction when they heard ‘Sweat,’” said Kegan. “We like it because it’s simple, straight to the point and easy to remember.”
By Rachel Zabonick