Jordan Rudolph, the founder of Unity Fitness, was often told he had an entrepreneurial mindset. As a personal trainer working out of a “big box” gym, he had been required to build his own clientele and create his own rate structure. Jordan worked with his clients but said he soon found, “I wanted to work with the general population where a small victory was a bigger thing. Seeing people accomplish things that matter to their everyday life was the a-ha moment for me.” That led Jordan to his next entrepreneurial venture.
A pivot from online to local studio
In 2014, Jordan launched an online personal training service, and he was effective with his clients. However, Jordan said, “I wanted to be physically there, building a relationship, not behind a screen or on a phone call.” Plans to open a fitness studio in La Crosse brought Jordan to Terri Urbanek, Outreach Specialist at the Small Business Development Center at UW-La Crosse. Seven months later, in June 2015, he opened Unity Fitness.
The 4200-square-foot facility features free weights and other equipment, large areas for different kinds of training and conditioning, and group classes. A smoothie bar serves up nutritious drinks and snacks. Jordan wanted to create a home-like atmosphere, so chose not to include big-box-gym features like showers and changing rooms.
Jordan’s primary target market is 45-to-55-year-old women looking for improved fitness in a positive environment. “They want a place that’s friendly and motivating that has a sense of community,” said Jordan. He markets Unity Fitness primarily through Facebook advertising. Terri, who became a client of Unity Fitness after consulting with Jordan on his start-up, praises the way Jordan customizes service packages to meet individual needs. “You might want to work on your golf swing or be a competition weightlifter. You might be a grandmother wanting to gain flexibility and mobility so it’s easier to play with your grandchildren. He makes you feel successful no matter what you’re working on,” she said.
Building business acumen with help from SBDC
Launching a new fitness studio meant applying for financing. Jordan needed a comprehensive business plan. He had learned about the SBDC at UW-La Crosse and met Terri several years prior. When he decided to open Unity Fitness, Jordan reached out to Terri again. Her team provided local demographic data and helped with both the content and the structure of the business plan. Jordan said, “Having Terri’s team run financial projections amplified my credibility when I took my plan to the bank.” He received an SBA loan through a local community bank for $50,000, most of which went to a complete remodel of the location he rented.
Terri noted, “Jordan was really focused. I’d challenge him—he was open to digging deeper, to making sure the area would support his business.” Jordan responded, “Terri is very direct, and I like that.”
Terri coached Jordan through his Grand Opening, providing a detailed checklist. Terri also helped Jordan determine his pricing structure. Instead of the typical gym model of a membership fee for basic access with up-charges for classes, trainers, and other services, he offers an all-inclusive price that remains competitive but incorporates more services.
Accomplishments with the SBDC at UW-La Crosse:
- Business planning
- Financial projections
- Guidance for Grand Opening
Unity Fitness prepares for growth
As Jordan’s business moves into its fourth year, he is in the early stages of a search for a location he can purchase. In the meantime, he plans to add thirty to forty more members, pay down debt, and save to prepare for that next step. Terri and Jordan continue to work together—on his business growth and her fitness goals.