The city of St. Albans, Vermont, was founded as a railroad town. At its peak, more than 200 trains passed through the town per day. A local gym, Train Station: Fitness in Motion, honors that history with its namesake.
“Train Station: Fitness in Motion has actually been around for almost 20 years,” said Ben Cote, who co-owns the gym with his wife, Lyndsi. “Train Station: Fitness in Motion is a slight play on words due to St. Albans and its railroad history.”
Although the gym has been around for nearly two decades, Ben and Lyndsi are newcomers to the facility. In September 2014, soon after graduating from college, the pair stumbled across an opportunity to take over Train Station: Fitness in Motion.
“We were able to make our dream of owning a local gym a reality much sooner in life than expected,” said Ben. “I guess the thought of being so young and only a few years out of college, I just didn’t think it would be feasible financially. My wife and I sat down and mapped out a plan to get us there and to make it happen. There were a few hurdles and obstacles in the way, but we got through them and were able to become new owners of a gym.”
Now, one of the hurdles is figuring out how to differentiate from big-box, national facilities. As a solution, Ben researched what other gyms were doing, to discover new programs to bring to their business. “That is how we found barre, PiYo and hip hop,” said Ben. “We focused on our core group of members and are working toward catering to their fitness styles as far as equipment goes, while trying to bring in classes that aren’t offered anywhere else in the area.”
As new owners, Ben and Lyndsi take pride in creating a tight-knit and welcoming community. “The main keys to our gym’s success is listening to our members,” he said. “Bringing in programs they wish to see in the area and maintaining a friendly, inviting atmosphere, which makes coming to the gym a little less intimidating.”
The co-owners have been a part of the community since they were kids. Both were athletes, and as a result enjoy supporting local teams by attending games and helping with preseason training.
Although fairly new to health club ownership, Ben said he has already learned a few lessons. “Be honest, personable and pay attention to detail,” he said. “Get to know your members. Oftentimes small gestures can go a long way and make a big impact. Don’t be afraid of change, and listen to members’ feedback.”
The biggest lesson has been learning how to say no. “As new owners we had a hard time saying no,” explained Ben. “We were constantly trying to please everyone, and we soon realized that we can’t. We had to decide which direction we wanted to go and stick to our goals and vision. I think having goals and a vision for your business is something your members will respect, which makes saying no much easier, when it’s a decision to get the club closer to the end goal.”