Fitness center shrinks, perseveres

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Fitness center shrinks, perseveres Service: fitness center Address: 4202 W. 56th Place Phone: (office) 222-4878, (cell) 332-0138

E-mail: rick.james5@live.comWeb site:

Founded: February 2008 Owner: Rick James Owner’s background: James, 37, grew up in New Albany and graduated from IUPUI in 1999 with a degree in biology. Then he spent eight years as a manager for H&R Block Mortgage before the location shut down. Why started business: Without a job, James began to ask his friends -whom he worked out with frequently-for advice. “They started telling me, ‘You’re helping people all the time [when you work out],'” James said. “‘Why don’t you get certified?’ So I did.” After obtaining his personal trainer certification, James opened the first Brick House Fitness location at 5226 W. 56th St. in February 2008. But despite building a reliable client base and offering service worthy of Indianapolis Monthly’s Best Fitness Classes in Indianapolis recommendation, there simply wasn’t enough revenue to maintain the location, and James was forced to move to a smaller space this year.

“I almost thought about closing the place up,” James said, “but the [client] response was incredible. It really made a difference and helped me get going again.”

Competitive advantage: What it lacks in size, Brick House makes up for in intimacy and personal service, James said. All instructors are certified personal trainers (among them two of James’ former students), so in any given class, several people can simultaneously receive one-on-one attention.

In addition, the workout space has been designed with clients in mind. James and his staff encourage clients to speak up about what they’d like to see, whether it’s a case of adding or removing features.

“I even asked them what color walls and what kind of carpet they wanted in one class,” James said.

Startup cost: $60,000

Funding source: personal funds with investment backing

First-year revenue: $45,000

Potential problem and contingency plan: James has already downsized, from 2,500 square feet to 1,900 square feet, due to lack of revenue. His other main concern is the lack of visibility of the studio. Currently without a proper sign and with reflective windows that make it difficult to see inside during daylight hours, James is relying on word of mouth to some degree to assure potential clients that Brick House is, in fact, open while he sees to the issue.

One-year goal: Brick House is releasing an instructional “Budo Khi” martial arts workout DVD in the late summer through instructor L.J. Easley. James also plans to continue to experiment with classes for seniors and children.

Five-year vision: James is considering moving back into a larger location to accommodate two classes at a time again. He also wants to expand to have a location on each side of the city. James mentioned that clients often tell him they “pass a lot of gyms on the way here.” He’d like to make it so they don’t have to.


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