24-hour Fitness Center exceeding expectations
By Robert Williams
Lakes Fit 24-hour Fitness Center in Vergas was a dream of owner Heather Schmid, one she is now living thanks to a level of customer support that blew her initial goals away. ¶ “The community support has been overwhelming. I knew they’d be supportive but it’s been greater than I expected,” said Schmid. “I’ve even been meeting people I didn’t even know were here; you think you know everybody in the community and then all of a sudden you have people reaching out, wanting a membership, and just all the people I have been able to meet. It’s been pretty cool.” ¶ Schmid’s first year in business was not without big changes. ¶ Heather and her husband Tyler have taken over primary ownership. Original partner Wendy Zitzow already had a full slate and knowing the gym was Heather’s dream Wendy left the business after helping set up the accounting. It was a positive change for all parties involved.
“She got things going and was very integral with that,” said Schmid. “I am very grateful for the Zitzows and all they did to get us going.”
After opening on Aug. 8, 2022, the fitness center got off to an early and surprising start.
“The strength classes that I teach; I didn’t know how that was going to go over and if people would want to work out at 5:30 a.m., and that’s been so fun,” said Schmid. “The support for the early morning class has been great and I’ve had to restructure that a little bit.”
Class loads expanded; there were more class offerings; multiple instructors, but the rate of acquiring new members was growing quickly also. Lakes Fit now has a customer base that is more than the population of Vergas.
“It quadrupled my goal; I wanted so many members by this date and we surpassed that goal almost immediately and kept adding to that goal and we’re now over 400 members,” Schmid said.
There is a lot of variety when it comes to customer demographics.
“We have students all the way through silver sneakers—we have all ages; it’s all over the map,” said Schmid.
The silver sneakers group, in particular, has grown to the point where Schmid added extra classes to accommodate them.
It began with one class twice per week, then a second class was added to the Tuesday-Thursday schedule and a second instructor came on board for Monday-Wednesday classes to meet the demand.
Also instructing classes are Patty Jaeger teaching strength and PiYo and primary yoga instructor Shannon Wegner.
They keep the calendar filled. In August, classes are currently available on 21 of the 31 days.
Unlike some businesses that count on summer tourism, Lakes Fit has been consistent year-round after Schmid recently got a first full summer under her belt.
“It’s been pretty consistent, just for different reasons,” she said.
The uptick in clientele that is expected in the summer months is matched by a similar uptick once the weather turns frigid in the winter.
“People appreciate that they don’t have to drive to DL or Perham to work out, especially during the winter months,” said Schmid.
Completing the first year of business and doing so successfully is allowing Schmid to turn her business into her dream. Much of what brought that success was flexibility and working with customers to customize their experience.
“We’ve been learning as we go—finding out what everybody wants and needs and trying to meet those,” said Schmid. “The first year was just trying to figure things out and get things going and now I would love to add more things and provide some motivation when it comes to reaching your goals. My next goal is to add nutrition coaching into the business.”
Schmid specializes in macro nutrition: proteins, fats and carbs.
“Learning how to balance those macros to meet goals,” she said. “I find a lot of people can have the fitness routine down but if that nutrition piece isn’t in place they struggle seeing the results.”
Potential nutrition instruction may be in a class setting pending interest and will definitely be available through one-on-one consulting.
Nutrition coaching brings together much of what Schmid was doing before opening the fitness center. The nurse, instructor and mother has found a perfect medium to expand on those three skills.
Schmid was doing remote lecturing through M-State Moorhead when she opened up Lakes Fit.
She made the leap of faith to stop teaching and nursing and focus solely on her business.
“For me, more than anything, I knew that nursing would always be there and once this facility got going that it would allow me the flexibility to work if I needed to, but so far, it’s been successful enough where I am able to continue this and adding the nutrition piece is really where my passion lies,” she said. “Now that we’ve got things settled with the fitness center and to add that piece in, I’m really excited to be able to provide that service, as well.”
Being in Vergas and off a full-time nursing schedule has also been great at home.
“To do something I love, but also have the flexibility for my family has been huge because nursing did not allow that,” said Schmid.
Looking back to the first day of business, what Lakes Fit has become is a boon to its owner and in turn needed space and services that were missing in the village.
“100 percent—it’s the community and the members that have allowed me to live my dream, pretty surreal,” Schmid said.
More information is available at www.lakesfit.com, including class descriptions and schedules. Memberships can als be purchased online with instant access to the center.
“Call and schedule a time to see the facility—no pressure,” Schmid said. “I’m happy to show people what we have.”