First in Kansas City. Greg Justice began thinking about opening a private personal training studio in the mid-1980s after reading an article based on training celebrities in their Hollywood homes. “I wondered if this idea would work in a smaller market like Kansas City,” says Justice. “I mentioned the idea to the owner of the fitness center I managed, and he didn’t think Kansas City was a big enough market to support such a concept.” Trusting his own judgment, Justice finished graduate school and opened the first personal training business in the Kansas City area. “That’s when I put the tunnel vision into focus and literally went door-to-door with a brochure of fitness services I could provide individuals in their homes.” Despite successes, the house calls took their toll on Justice’s time, prompting him to put down roots and invite clients to come to him. “It was all trial and error early on. The main challenges came because AYC was the first personal training facility in the area, and I didn’t have anything to model it after.”

The Fitness Mall. AYC Health & Fitness isn’t your cookie-cutter personal training facility. Since opening the studio in 1987, Justice has expanded to a 3,000-square-foot facility offering a variety of fitness and wellness options, all while preserving the personalized touch of a smaller studio. “I guess the best way to describe AYC is to call it a fitness mall,” says Justice. “The entire facility is made up of six separate private studios. Three of our studios are outfitted with traditional gym equipment (machine and free weights and cardiovascular machines). In addition, we have a fully outfitted Pilates equipment studio, a yoga studio and a licensed massage therapy studio.”

Client Retention. Justice credits much of AYC’s success to listening to clients and making necessary changes. “As AYC grew, I found that the clients really preferred having their own studio; that’s why we evolved the way we did. We’ve become quite good at listening to our clients and giving them what they want.” Justice and his staff believe this type of service is what keeps clients coming back. “My clients are not shy about their feelings,” he says. “I’m the first person they contact if they’re unhappy about something. Open communication sets the tone for a very high client retention.”

Staff Loyalty. While Justice prefers his “old-school trainer ways” (primarily focusing on weights and cardiovascular exercise), his staff provides skills that allow AYC to cater to many needs. Whether in small-group classes or one-on-one sessions, clients can opt for different types of training—from sports conditioning to body building to elder care. All of the trainers hold a degree in exercise science or a related field, giving them a good foundation for dealing with a vast array of clientele. Justice also believes in taking care of his employees, which translates to higher-quality service. “For the most part, AYC associates are employees, not contracted labor. I prefer this because I feel they’re more vested in the overall business. AYC trainers have healthcare benefits, paid vacation, paid continuing education and a profit-share plan.”

The Bottom Line.“I would be remiss
if I didn’t acknowledge the incredible
collection of AYC associates: Nadine Price, Glen Haney, Darin Fletcher, Katie Kincaid, Mike Dalton, Nancy Levin and Stephanie Heschemeyer. Our diversity and customer service are what make AYC thrive after 20 years of business.”