STUDIO Fitness in Houston, Texas, is a rapidly growing gym focused on intense personal training. But it’s certainly not intimidating — in fact, the gym prides itself on making members feel like they belong.
“People always feel comfortable here,” said Jose Madrigal, the owner of STUDIO Fitness. “We’ve been referred to as the Cheers of fitness, like this place where everybody knows everybody.”
From the start, Madrigal’s vision for his gym has been a “top-notch personal training studio.” And what makes a personal training studio top-notch is its ability to engage members and help them reach their goals.
“I got into being a personal trainer because I genuinely wanted to help people,” said Madrigal. “I wanted to help people lose weight, be healthier and feel better.”
For many years, Madrigal felt unable to achieve this goal. When working at other gyms prior to opening his own, he felt like he was “turning into this person that was just trying to push the biggest, most expensive package of personal training,” he said.
This led to his journey to open STUDIO Fitness. Upon leaving a big-box chain, Madrigal found a small space in The Heights, an area in Houston, and began training a few clients.
His first facility was 2,500 square feet, and by the end of the first year, he had 10 other trainers also using the space. He then expanded into the neighboring property, doubling the size of the gym.
But, the gym kept growing. It wasn’t long before Madrigal realized STUDIO Fitness needed an even bigger home. “In those six months, we realized we needed to move again,” he recalled. “We had no more room to expand, so we moved to the facility we’re [currently] in five years ago, and that’s a 20,000-square-foot facility here in The Heights.”
Today, STUDIO Fitness offers members a place to workout with trainers who will engage them and push them to achieve their health and fitness goals in a judgment-free environment.
It’s not surprising, then, this model has been extremely popular among residents of The Heights. Naturally, word has gotten around the area.
“We’ve spent very little money on advertising and we haven’t ever really needed to because we’ve grown very successfully through lots of word of mouth,” explained Madrigal. “That word of mouth comes from the culture here.”
All of these accomplishments doesn’t mean there weren’t a few bumps in the road. In the early stages of his business venture, Madrigal was just scraping by. “I didn’t have a ton of money when I started, so every step has been financially challenging,” he said. “I’ve stayed poor for a lot of years in order to keep feeding the monster.”
There have also been a few growing pains. As there is with any gym, STUDIO Fitness had its own learning curve wherein Madrigal and his staff experimented with different equipment, technology and spatial concepts in the gym’s “really big, open concept.”
Through all of the obstacles, however, STUDIO Fitness stayed true to its core value of helping people in a personal way. In doing so, it has evolved into a full-service gym, offering CrossFit, yoga, boot camps and cycling classes. And of course, there are still personal training sessions.
With a second location in east downtown Houston set to open before the end of the year, STUDIO Fitness is nowhere near finished growing. The success of the club can be attributed to its culture, which will be paramount anywhere the gym opens.
“I think the biggest thing we could teach another club is to focus on having a really great staff and culture,” explained Madrigal. “We’ve definitely seen for ourselves you can have low-budget equipment, but if you have really great instructors and trainers who are engaging and treating customers really great, that’s what people come back to.”