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Bodybuilding.com Gym Of The Month: FLEX Fitness Center.
FLEX Fitness Center!

Congratulations FLEX Fitness Center! We are proud to announce a new gym of the month award where we will be awarding the best of the best! Find out how they got started, services offered and much more right here.

By: Gym Of The Month

On the 'West Coast' shore of Lake Michigan, in the great state of Michigan, stands an Icon in the Brotherhood of Iron, FLEX Fitness Center. The great people at FLEX has been doin' their work, lifting heavy things, and growing lean muscle for going on 25 years and we're excited to feature this great independent gym as a Bodybuilding.com "Gym of the Month."


Vital Statistics

Name Of Gym: FLEX Fitness Center
Name Of Owner: Shawn & Amy Miller, Owners; Matt Barre, Membership Director
Address:

E-mail: info@flexfitnesscenter.com
Website: http://www.FLEXFitnessCenter.com
Phone: (616) 396-2901

Also Active On:

Members: 600+ (Very active members, average attendance is 4 times per week, much higher than most fitness centers)
Size: 10,000 sq. ft. with 19,000+ lbs. of Free Weights and 120+ Pieces of Pro Grade Equipment
Hours: 24/7/365 Keycard access (staffed 6am-8pm)
Trainers: 7

Founders: Founded by Bob Lamb in August of 1985, we are the second owners, having purchased the business and building in September of 2005. FLEX is the longest continuously running fitness facility in West Michigan!


[ Q ] How did the gym start and why did you decide to enter the gym business?

    Bob originally founded the gym because he saw a gap in the market, there was simply no gym in the area offering the environment he wanted and he was not impressed with the customer service provided by 'competitors' in the area. So he built FLEX from the ground up as a bodybuilding gym.

Bob Built FLEX From The Ground Up As A Bodybuilding Gym.
+ Click To Enlarge.
Bob Built FLEX From The Ground
Up As A Bodybuilding Gym.

    When FLEX opened there was not a single piece of cardio equipment in the building, it was a pure barbell club. We've softened a bit over the years and we serve a more diverse crowd today.

    Bob ran the business himself for 20 years and was also the ABB distributor for the state of Michigan; I guess he was tired the day we asked to buy the club and that he was ready to retire!

    Amy and I bought the gym to live the dream of building a passion into a business just the way Bob did. I have a corporate business background and still do private business coaching. Amy was working at other clubs in the area as a professional fitness trainer for several years, we're both athletes and have a passion for fitness, and we saw owning FLEX as a great opportunity for our family and a way to work every day in an environment we love.

Amy And Shawn Bought The Gym To Live The Dream Of Building A Passion Into A Business.
+ Click To Enlarge.
Amy And Shawn Bought The Gym To Live The
Dream Of Building A Passion Into A Business.


[ Q ] What makes your gym different?

    When you walk in the front door and see six squat cages and 40 yards of dumbbells and lots of guys with muscles, you get the idea pretty quick that FLEX isn't like the other "clubs" in this area! It's a weightlifting gym! No childcare, no 'classes', nobody primping in the mirror.

    Our members are doin' work! And they like it that way! There are great friendships and camaraderie for sure, but not much dinkin' around. That's the reality; it's the culture, the members themselves, and the general environment that make FLEX unique.

Our Members Are Doin' Work, And They Like It That Way!
Our Members Are Doin' Work,
And They Like It That Way!

    The vast majority of our new members come as referrals from existing members. Our processes are effective, our people do their work, they see progress, and they want to share their success with their friends!

    We have a lot of obvious marketing advantages as well, that have nothing to do with culture or equipment: We have a very convenient location (right in the middle of our town and very near the main North/South highway), and we support that with 24 hour/365 day access, so there are no excuses for not training.

RELATED VIDEO: FLEX Fitness Center
"Virtual" Tour of FLEX Fitness Center!

Owner, Shawn Miller, takes you on a "Virtual" Tour of FLEX Fitness Center in Holland, MI.

    We are aggressive with our pricing and we offer a "No Contract" monthly dues membership that can be cancelled or frozen at any time. Nobody else around here is so confident and aggressive with their product offering.

    When you combine our great features - 25 years in business, a smallish market with family owner/operators on-site and available, high visibility and recognition in the community - you can see why it's an obvious best choice for anyone shopping for real fitness results!

We Have A Smallish Market With Family Owner/Operators On-Site And Available. We Have A Smallish Market With Family Owner/Operators On-Site And Available.
+ Click To Enlarge.
We Have A Smallish Market With Family
Owner/Operators On-Site And Available.


[ Q ] What sort of people do you attract into your gym?

    We attract people who are pretty intentional about what they are doing and are really looking for effective results for their effort. We have lots of weekend warrior athletes who train hard to hold onto their youth and dominate that softball or basketball league.

    In the summer we train a lot of high school and college athletes. We've got MMA fighters, strongmen (and women), bodybuilders, powerlifters, and a whole bunch of other people who just want to look and feel their best.

RELATED VIDEO: FLEX Fitness Center
FLEX Fitness According To FLEX Members!

FLEX Fitness Center, Holland, MI, USA. A collection of thoughts and comments about the gym by the Members themselves.

    I should also say though that we are a very diverse place; we've got members in their teens and members in their 80's, men and women, and every color in the rainbow. I really think FLEX is the most diverse place culturally, I've ever been. We have good representation of every ethnic group in our community and that really adds to the place.

    Someone asked me the other day if there had ever been a conflict between the different groups that come to FLEX. My answer was yes, we've had a number of near violent conflicts over the years, but it's not what you think... they've all been between the bodybuilders and the powerlifters!


[ Q ] What inspires people to train at your facility?

    They say 65% of the people in Michigan are overweight, if you walk around a bit that may be low. I spend a lot of time at FLEX, so I lose perspective because of what great shape our people are in. I take the environment here for granted, but when new people come in, they are really surprised and excited to see all the people that look like them, but are in great shape.

When New People Come In, They Are Really Surprised And Excited To See All The People In Great Shape.
When New People Come In, They Are Really Surprised
And Excited To See All The People In Great Shape.

    New folks are often intimidated by this at first, but when they find out everybody is really friendly and helpful, they seem to figure out that this is where they want to be if they want to be in great shape too. If you want to be successful, hang out with successful people. If you want to be in great shape, hang out at FLEX!


[ Q ] Do you have any top trainers and why are they so good?

    Amy and I are both CHEK certified exercise coaches and holistic lifestyle coaches, which is a special combination that allows us to treat the whole person and to do so with a basis of what I believe to be the finest 'trainer' training available today.

RELATED VIDEO: FLEX Fitness Center
Mary Talks About Her Awesome Results Training At FLEX!

Mary is getting lean and mean and loving her training and her trainer at FLEX, way to go Mary and Sasha!

    Amy is also an ISSA certified P.T. and she actively practices with clients more than I. She's been working with clients for 9 years now and is really operating at a very high level. Alleviating and preventing low back pain is a real specialty of ours and a very helpful skill to have.

    "Mighty" Joe Stankowski is our top guy; he's an IDEA Master Trainer with about six other certifications. Joe is a training advisor and frequent contributor to Men's Fitness magazine and a regular guest fitness expert on West Michigan's Fox 17 Morning TV Show.

Joe Is A Training Advisor And Frequent Contributor To Men's Fitness Magazine.
Joe Is A Training Advisor And Frequent
Contributor To Men's Fitness Magazine.

    He is also a former competitive powerlifter who trained alongside powerlifting legend Ed Coan for 4 years at Quads Gym in Chicago.

RELATED ARTICLE
Bodybuilding.com Gym Of The Month: Quads Gym.
Congratulations Quads Gym! We are proud to announce a new gym of the month award where we will be awarding the best of the best! Find out how they got started, services offered and much more right here.
[ Click here to learn more. ]

    Rose Boutique has been featured on Bodybuilding.com for her success as a competitor in bodybuilding and figure. Rose trains at FLEX herself and is a trainer of others for competition prep as well as general fitness goals.

    We also have Sasha Sandor, an IDEA Fit P.T.; Trevis Trevino an ISSA P.T.; Mike Gruppen, an ISSA P.T. and youth conditioning coach; and Marcie Smith, an NCSA C.S.C.S.

Sahsa Sandor. Mike Gruppen.
+ Click To Enlarge.
FLEX Fitness Center Personal Trainers
Sasha Sandor And Mike Gruppen.


[ Q ] What special services do you provide?

    We offer everything you'd expect: towels, tanning, etc, etc... But when I think "special services" at FLEX, I think about all of the knowledgeable and helpful staff and members.

    The other day, a young guy asked me about increasing his bench press. I introduced him to a record holding, state and national champion, 'raw' bench pressing member, who spent the next 1/2 hour giving the kid tips and spotting for him just because he's like that and just because FLEX is like that.

    The whole place is just special and if you want to get educated about how to get to your goals, all you have to do is ask! We consistently host events and educational opportunities on all aspects of nutrition, training, and performance improvement.

The Whole Place Is Special And If You Want To Get Educated, All You Have To Do Is Ask.
+ Click To Enlarge.
The Whole Place Is Special And If You Want
To Get Educated, All You Have To Do Is Ask.


[ Q ] Who are your most notable present and past members?

    When you're going on 25 years in this kind of a place, that's a long list! Competitive bodybuilding was huge 'back in the day' at FLEX. Bob Lamb founded the Central States NPC show that still runs today and FLEX put more than 50 competitors in that first show and countless others since.

    Certainly the most accomplished bodybuilder ever at FLEX was Dona Oliveira, who was a World Champion and a consistent top finisher in Ms. Olympia in the late '80's. I know Dona is featured in several places on Bodybuilding.com.

    We have a long list of record holders, professional and top amateur athletes in a variety of sports well beyond bodybuilding and powerlifting. We've had all manner of interesting guests over the years as well, as this is a tourist area in the summer, and FLEX is a great place for a guest workout. There are really too many great people to list and I don't want to leave anybody out so I'm not going to name drop!

RELATED VIDEO: FLEX Fitness Center
Fitness Expert "Mighty" Joe Stankowski Endorses FLEX Fitness Center!

The #1 Health Club in Holland, MI, USA - Well known Fitness Expert "Mighty" Joe Stankowski offers his endorsement of FLEX Fitness Center. Joe know's Fitness and we appreciate his positive comments about the gym.

    Some of our most interesting members to me right now are the Conquerors. We're the 'official training center' for the Conquerors International Strength Team. The Conquerors are a group of strongmen, and women, who are Evangelical Christians and they travel all over the world entertaining people with amazing feats of strength while sharing their message about Jesus Christ. They are outstanding people, freakishly strong, and great fun to have around!

    Check Out The Conquerors Website Here.


[ Q ] What is the hardest part about operating your gym?

    Anytime you try to get several hundred people to agree on something like a radio station or the correct temperature, you're going to have some challenges. But we do an extensive annual member survey and received 100% satisfactory marks this past year, so overall everything must work out to everyone's general satisfaction.

We Do An Extensive Annual Member Survey And Received 100% Satisfactory Marks This Past Year.
We Do An Extensive Annual Member Survey And
Received 100% Satisfactory Marks This Past Year.

    On the other side of the coin, but really tough, is all the government and legal interference with operating a business. So much time, effort, and cash flow is eaten up by taxes, licenses, reports, fees, audits, insurances and related regulatory crap that it really takes away from the ability of the business owner to focus on customer service, marketing and innovation which are the only ways to grow a business!


[ Q ] What makes you competitive over the big gym chains?

    We have no problem competing with big gyms, we're the anti-big gym! If you want that, you won't like us and if you like us, you won't like them!

    Seriously, we know every single member by name. In addition we also provide: high touch customer service, we make great attempts to educate and add extra value to our members so they are as successful as they can be, our place is spotlessly clean, it's impeccably well organized, and we never close for holidays or whatever. We just have a ton of benefits and a unique culture that no big gym can manage.

Our Place Is Spotlessly Clean And Impeccably Well Organized.
+ Click To Enlarge.
Our Place Is Spotlessly Clean
And Impeccably Well Organized.

    We had a huge 'competitor,' owned by a billionaire, open up just about a mile from us about two years ago. We know our niche, we have effective and focused marketing, and we've grown the business consistently since that 'competitor' came to town.

    Everything is not shiny and new at FLEX, but we're highly effective and that's what our people are after. We really don't pay much attention to 'competitors' we just do what we do, as well as we can, and are confident we stack up well if compared to any other place.

    We're also benefiting from a shift in Michigan to "Buy Local" and support local business to help boost our economy and keep dollars circulating in our home town. We're a local family business and people know that and support our effort.

We're A Local Family Business And People Know That And Support Our Effort.
We're A Local Family Business And People
Know That And Support Our Effort.

    We also work very closely with our vendors to offer added value for our customers. They are: Jon Peters from Sports Supplements, American Body Building, BSN, Cytosport, and Paul Delia at AST Sports Science are all really helpful in educating our members, providing competitive opportunities for us, and supporting our business.


[ Q ] How have you been able to be so successful and how do you hope to remain so?

    I would say that from the past our success was really a testament to Bob Lamb's work ethic and commitment to the core values of remaining a weightlifting club rather than chasing fitness fads and trends. We have always maintained a high level of respect in the community by operating with high ethical standards, maintaining the facility to the best of our ability, paying our vendors on time, and giving back to the community when we can.

Our Success Is A Testament To The Commitment To The Core Values Of Remaining A Weightlifting Club.
Our Success Is A Testament To The Commitment To The
Core Values Of Remaining A Weightlifting Club.

    As far as "hope" for success in the future, hope is no better a strategy for business success than it is an effective strategy for fitness training success.

    We are serious students of sales and marketing and we drive growth with creative and effective marketing strategy. We fully integrate marketing with sales and employ a professional sales person as Membership Director. Matt Barre is a real professional in this business; he and his position are key to our success.

    As owners we are actively involved in our sales and marketing strategy and demand successful return on our investment to ensure the viability of this business for the long term.

    Our move to 24 hour access in 2008 was an obvious example of using technology to allow us to provide greater value to our members while saving costs for our business. We're continuously looking for innovative opportunities like that to add value. And we think the growth of popularity of MMA and strongman are not small fads and we are making subtle shifts in equipment and trainers to embrace those trends.

MMA And Strongman Are Not Small Fads And Were Are Making Shifts To Embrace Those.
MMA And Strongman Are Not Small Fads And
We Are Making Shifts To Embrace Those.


[ Q ] Any last thoughts you'd like to share?

    Yeah, two: first, want to say "Thank you" to Bodybuilding.com. We consider this a tremendous honor to be Gym of the Month. We're thrilled to be included among the elite list of gyms from all around the world who have been featured in the past. This is really outstanding of you and we genuinely appreciate your support of our club and others like us. Way to go, and keep up your great work! Thank you again!

    And second, if you're in West Michigan and are a reader of Bodybuilding.com, you need to be training at FLEX! FLEX is the place for serious training in West Michigan, get over here today!


Do You Have A Great Gym?
Sign Up For Gym Of The Month!

If you know of another gym that stands out as supporting our sport and providing an atmosphere that encourages clients of all ability levels to reach their goals please send us an email at gymofthemonth@bodybuilding.com so that we can showcase the hard work our gym owners and managers do to provide us a great place to train.

Bodybuilding.com Gym Of The Month: FLEX Fitness Center!
gymofthemonth@bodybuilding.com

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