“We truly want people to be healthy. We are family and we work hard to create community.”
Chris Woods was at a crossroads. After spending the last twenty years as a personal trainer helping clients achieve their goals, he had yet to achieve his own and time was quickly running out.
When the gym Chris had been working at for over thirteen years suddenly closed down, he had a decision to make. “Do I keep bringing in money for someone else or do I finally just take the leap and go into business for myself?” Luckily for Chris, one of his longtime clients, Nikia Washington, thought her husband, William, might be interested in becoming business partners.
Urged on by his wife, William, who works full time at Grand Valley State University overseeing intermural sports, met with Chris and discovered that they shared the same vision—to open a neighborhood gym in an underserved community. Specifically, they wanted to serve the Kentwood/Kalamazoo Street area. They wanted the gym to be family oriented, fun and focused on helping anyone at any fitness level. They also wanted to keep the membership fees reasonable and offer clients a variety of options.
“Most gyms can be intimidating, impersonal boxes, filled with people wearing headphones, doing solitary exercises, I wanted our gym to be different.” said Chris.
Chris and William decided to take the leap together, they shook hands and NO LIMIT FITNESS was born.
The Challenge with Traditional Small Business Loans
The pair quickly created a business plan, found a location, sourced the equipment and then hit a brick wall. “Nobody would give us a loan. Banks kept wanting to know why our gym was going to be different. They just didn’t understand.” Determined to find a way, they kept searching for a solution.
GROW Supports Women and Men Entrepreneurs
One day while at an outreach event for Grand Valley State, a GROW rep connected with William. “I thought, why are they talking to me? I’m a man” William laughs, but as he found out GROW supports both female and male entrepreneurs and were definitely interested in helping William and Chris with their business.
“We went to banks and they didn’t understand what we were trying to do. We met with GROW and they required all the same paperwork that the banks asked for, the only difference was that GROW sat us down and actually listened to us and listened to what we were doing. GROW got behind us and really supported our vision” states William.
Chris and William took classes, applied for a loan and were approved. “Getting a loan from them was critical” explained Chris.
“We were thrilled. We wouldn’t have been able to get the range of equipment without GROW”, added William. “We found them at the right time, we’re fortunate. Because if I had not run into them at that event I wouldn’t have realized that they served more than just women”.
Providing Support and Guidance with Funding Improves Success
In addition to receiving financing, the partners also took several business classes and met with their mentor at GROW who offered invaluable advice. “She really helped us stay on track.” She also put the pair in touch with an accountant who explained how QuickBooks worked.
“I would recommend GROW to other small business owners and tell them to find out what services they offer. Whenever I have needed them they have been there, smiles William, “Whenever we needed help, they have always helped us.”
“I don’t think we would still be here if it weren’t for them. Their support has allowed us to still be in business. We’ve really enjoyed our relationship with them,” states Chris.
With GROW’s help the pair had overcome their financial hurdle and were able to build their business from the ground up. However, the daily grind of running it was just getting started.
The Daily Dedication
Fitness & Business Ownership Require Consistent Action
As a personal trainer and coach, Chris pushes his clients to put the ‘hard work in’ something he knows a little bit about. His day starts at 5am when he opens the doors to the gym to greet early morning clients. And it doesn’t end until after the last class at night when he locks the doors at 9pm.
All day long he’s a whirlwind of energy, teaching, encouraging and helping his clients get in shape. He’s also the in-house DJ, playing hits from artists such as Beyoncé and Bruno Mars and even takes requests.
Relentlessly positive, Chris works hard to make everyone’s day better. He likes to counsel people and make them feel good. He truly loves what he does and strives to always bring out the best in people.
He motivates his clients by smiling and telling a lot of jokes. “Most people don’t like to do cardio but once you’re smiling and talking and having fun, you’re forgetting what you’re doing” he explains.
He’s also innovative, creating new types of group fitness classes such as Hip Hop Cycle and Pumpology, a sexy dance class which has a fun, party like atmosphere all the while burning some serious calories. “The ladies in the group classes are all laughing, sweating and having a good time,” quips William.
Other classes include:
- Hustle and Step with The Queens of J (Tuesdays at 7pm/Saturdays at 11am)
Zumba on Wednesdays at 7pm
Hip Hop Cycling is back in August, Wednesday at 7pm
Zumbini for kids on Saturday at 10am
And a few other special classes this summer. Check them out on Facebook for the latest happenings!
No Limit Fitness charges only $24/mo and has drop in rates, too. They take all forms of payment. “We don’t turn nothing down but our collar!” cracks Chris.
If You’re Here, You’re Family!
Both William and Chris want people to know that No Limit Fitness is serious about helping their members get and stay in shape, but that it’s also a place where everyone can make friends. “We may not be the biggest or the best, but we are a place where everyone knows your name, we are the Cheers of gyms and when you’re in here, you matter.”
Achieving Dreams. Making a Difference
And for Chris who has finally achieved his lifelong dream of owning his own gym, helping others in his community is still what matters most.
For more information on No Limit Fitness and what they offer follow them on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/nolimitfitnessgr, Instagram @nolimitfitnessgr or check them out online: http://www.nolimitfitnessgr.com/
Share Your Story
Do you have a story like theirs to share? As GROW celebrates our 30th Anniversary, we are looking to share stories of every client who’s worked with GROW in any capacity. Did a class change your course or improve your business? Has a loan helped you realize your dream? Have connections to mentors helped you overcome specific business challenges. We’d love to share your story and promote your business. Contact us today.