After seven years growing a personal-training business, Jason Wolfe recently expanded FIT Statesboro to include general gym memberships allowing members 24/7 access.
He and a partner launched FIT Statesboro in 2011, the year that Wolfe attained his master's degree in exercise science from Georgia Southern University. Originally the business was based in a small storefront gym on Northside Drive, and as a personal trainer who met clients for workouts with carefully selected equipment, his space needs were minimal.
"Over at our other location we started with about a thousand square feet and have really expanded slowly but steadily, just adding some more trainers, adding equipment slowly," Wolfe said.
He purchased sole ownership and in 2014 moved FIT Statesboro to its current location, 107 West Main St. There the gym, occupying originally about 4,500 square feet, remained exclusively a place where a growing staff of personal trainers worked with clients individually and in small groups.
But renovations completed at the end of 2017 expanded the gym to encompass 6,000 square feet of the same building. An interior side wall was removed and a half-wall installed. This is meant to demarcate the back area
of the gym as a place where members without trainers can work out when the front area is being used by trainers and their clients.
However, those with general memberships will have access to the front portion as well when the trainers aren't working there.
"During busy times personal training will stay up there, and if we have people coming in for like, the normal membership, they get this space to themselves," Wolfe said.
He was standing in the entryway to the new area, filled with weightlifting equipment and some high-speed treadmills and air-resistance exercise bikes.
The general memberships with 24-hour, seven-day access have been available since Jan. 1. FIT Statesboro never offered this in the past.
"It's a greatly reduced cost because you're just coming in and working out on your own," Wolfe said. "With personal training you're paying for the service as well."
He now leads a staff of nine personal trainers, including Wolfe, Keagan Kiely, Rick Spurgeon, Laura Brannen, David Griffin, Abbie Blackmon, Sterling Jackson, Austin Lewis and Krystopher Thompson. Brief biographies including their fitness-related degrees and certifications can be found on the business' website, https://fitstatesboro.com.
Another page there lists prices and options for basic 24/7 membership; membership with customized plans plus online coaching; and individual, partner and group training sessions.
Barbells, squat racks and other classic exercise apparatus, including dumbbell and kettlebell sets, pull-up rings, ropes and medicine balls, dominate much of this gym's landscape. Jerk blocks - reinforced boxes designed to catch the weight-laden ends of barbells so they don't have to travel to and from the floor - are something you wouldn't encounter at a gym with a more machine-based approach.
"I think the biggest thing that we offer compared to some other facilities is the Olympic lifting equipment as well as Strongman-style and powerlifting-style equipment that might not be available at some of the other facilities in town," Wolfe said.
This equipment, along with the new all-hours general memberships, reveal his strategy to keep his business thriving in a town with increased competition in the fitness sector. With the opening last fall of Statesboro Family YMCA, a nonprofit organization entered the mix, and as previously reported, LOA Fitness for Women changed hands as 2017 gave way to 2018.
"It's always good to have a little competition, but I think that health and fitness are just growing themselves as more people are getting more attuned to that and seeking out experts or different places to exercise, and especially with different types of niche training, such as cross-training or Olympic lifting or powerlifting," Wolfe said.
Herald reporter Al Hackle may be reached at (912) 489-9458.