Sweat Equity Proves Inspiring
Building a dream through marketing muscle
When Tabitha Antoniak and Bill Shimkus approached the manager of Anytime Fitness in Papillion with the idea of partnering their training program with the club, they had no idea that they would achieve their long-term plan in just over one month. But when they were told the gym was for sale, both leapt at the chance to purchase the very place where they had transformed their lives. With little more than the knowledge that they “wanted to change other peoples’ lives and show them [their goals] can be achieved,” Tabitha and Bill took what was a gym and made it so much more.
In fact, one would be hard pressed to find another gym with such an interactive staff and clientele. Before Antoniak and Shimkus took the reigns the gym staff maintained a small presence, but with Tabitha’s years as a Director of Business Development at a staffing agency, that all quickly changed. A big believer in an open-door policy and a member-centric experience, the pair worked closely with Papillion’s community leaders to create a small town gym with a large presence.
"We wanted to change other peoples' lives and show them their goals can be achieved."
- Tabitha Antoniak
Taking their advice and running with it, Tabitha and Bill implemented their training program and created an active presence on social media with members sharing their successes and encouraging others in an effort to create accountability and foster a family atmosphere. Their approach of “working in the business and helping people” has led to a “dynamic change to the whole gym.” After renovations and an expansion, gone are the days of the gym’s cold steel and intimidating formality.
Unlike their predecessors, Bill manages the gym full time while Tabitha still maintains her position with the staffing agency and devotes each night and weekend to the gym. Their hands-on approach is a direct result of the hands-off franchise, a managing style that has allowed this particular branch to flourish in such a way that they have gained recognition from the corporate office. Anytime Fitness is working to implement Tabitha and Bill’s training program and membership strategies to their other clubs across the globe.
Far beyond their enthusiasm for the total gym experience, Tabitha and Bill have put in serious work to get their gym involved in the larger community. Antoniak frequently refreshes her skills by studying how to make ads relevant and how to get the most out of social media. Through active partnerships, Tabitha and Bill have doubled membership in just over a year. The gym nets around $60,000 from personal training alone, and through a sponsorship with Sumtur Ampitheater, that personal training reaches a much larger audience through Free Workout Saturdays in May and quick sessions before events where anyone can discuss their weight loss goals with the gym’s personal trainer.
Within the gym itself the marketing strategies are truly put to good use. Each staff member has their own story on the wall, and members are invited to share theirs as well. Members are more than a number, and when someone is finding it harder to get into the gym they receive an encouraging phone call. While Tabitha is looking to expand, she is careful to make sure she gives members a gym “that’s not too crowded that they can’t get on equipment.” What is most important of all to Antoniak and Shimkus is that “everything we built here is our own.” That is surely a healthy approach to ownership in an industry more interested in the bottom line.
The Firm Deal Review
Inspiration to Buy: To change people's lives
Growth: Doubled membership since purchase
Bank: Great Western Bank
Deal Structure: Asset Purchase Agreement