Along with the New Year, many people are making resolutions to live healthier lifestyles around this time and that’s where Vitruvian Fitness comes in. But as Vitruvian Fitness owner Tom Wigginton explains, owning a business is hard work.
Being a master of your craft is not enough; you also have to master the art of running a business while seeking out a support system that will help you improve your business for the better.
Originating in the corporate world, and after being laid off, Tom went back to school and searched within himself to find something that he found personally meaningful. “After a lot of soul searching, I decided that I wanted to get into personal training. I went back to school and got an education to become a trainer” he said. After making this big life change, he still felt something was missing. After being unsatisfied with his experience in big-box gyms, that is when his dream of Vitruvian was born. “…I realized that the big-box approach to fitness was very generic, not personal and more about building their revenue and less about the clients’ experience and personal improvement, so I decided to open up my own studio…” Tom said.
Vitruvian Fitness opened its doors in Wheat Ridge on August 1st in 2015. Originating in lower Highlands in 2010, the location was a busy street corner which gave them great visibility but Tom said that eventually they ran out of space. When the lease was up, it was the perfect time to relocate Vitruvian. “It’s been a phenomenal experience and a phenomenal ride,” he said. They open at 6 am and feature customized individual workout plans and group workouts that run throughout the day.
Tell me about Vitruvian Fitness – What got you or the business started, how did the idea for your business come about?
After being laid off after many years in the corporate world, it was time for me to find something that was much more meaningful and impactful at an individual level rather than in a big corporate type of environment. After a lot of soul searching, I decided that I wanted to get into personal training. After a couple of years in ‘big-box’ gyms, I realized the big-box approach to fitness was very generic, not personal and more about building their revenue and less about the clients’ experience and personal improvement, so I decided to open my own studio and I’ve never done anything more difficult in my entire life [laughs]… Running a business and also being a personal trainer is a lot of work. 80 percent of what I do is not being a trainer – it’s the business, marketing, management, accounting, it’s community relations – all of that stuff, you know? It doesn’t matter if I’m making pie or if I’m making cars, 80 percent is the same in any business you go into. So, that’s been a big eye opener and one of the biggest challenges.
At Vitruvian, we specialize in getting people back to their previous active abilities. Our target clientele is 35 to 70 years old. We’ve had great success with people who’ve had some type of injury or chronic disease, hip replacements, should reconstructions, or people who’ve had sedentary lifestyles due to their commitment to their careers and families … That’s our specialty and we do it in a semi-private environment for people who need that focus or in a group environment for people who prefer a larger setting. And by large I mean 12- 16 people total.
We had wonderful success and a great location in LoHi. The space was just too small. When our 5-year lease was up, we decided we wanted to expand and among the reasons we choose Wheat Ridge was the cost of commercial space being significantly less than it is in the Highlands. We got our new place, which is 3 and a half times bigger and has better amenities for less rent than we were paying before. The unfortunate part of the move is many of our previous clients didn’t follow us so we were starting over again at a level less than we projected. Now we’re 6 months in and we’re back on track.
Could you describe one of your typical workdays? What do you find most enjoyable?
We open up at 6am for personal training and group classes. Training clients work on programs that have been designed specifically for their needs and goals. Group classes are a little less individualized but the groups are small enough that everyone gets a lot of attention. We train until around lunch then we take a break and it starts back up again around 3pm through the evening.
The most rewarding part about this is when somebody presents us with a problem and we help them solve it. For example, when a client’s bone density improves and is able to stay off the meds, or watching a client with a joint replacement begin to thrive again, or when a client is able to continue going to concerts at Red Rocks, or is able to run pain-free . . . I love that. It’s the most amazing thing. So getting to share in those experiences with our clients, getting them newly capable of something they couldn’t do before, that’s amazing.
How long have you been located or have lived in Wheat Ridge for? Or why did you move/relocate to Wheat Ridge? Why do you stay?
I’m a Denver native and moved to northwest Denver in 2003. We moved the business to Wheat Ridge after 5 years and opened August 1, 2015.
How do you go about marketing your business? What has been your most successful for you?
Our old address in LoHi was good for about 25 to 50 percent of our new business. We were highly visible on a corner where people were walking by all day long, biking and driving cars by all the time. It was a very vibrant, pedestrian and bicycle friendly street corner so we had a lot of activity based on our address. Here, we have an awesome parking lot but we are set back from 44th Avenue and our street exposure is greatly diminished, so we still need to solve for that.
We’ve had great results getting new clients from professional referrals such as physical therapists, chiropractors and other medical professionals. Many people also find us via online search on Google and Yelp.
One of the things we know will be good for business is by engaging with Localworks, engaging with the Wheat Ridge Business Association and getting involved in other community events so people can see what we do, recognize the value to them, before they actually come walk through the door.
Does your organization have any big plans for 2016?
We have 3 events planned so far and we’re working on more. We love riding bikes and so we like to help people experience the awesomeness of going on big long rides. Our first event is a June bike ride called the MS150 which is a benefit for multiple sclerosis. Participants ride 150 miles over 2 days and it’s a fun, great community event, and phenomenal cause . Our second is the Courage Classic which is a benefit for Children’s Hospital. Our third one is the Copper Triangle and that’s a benefit for the Davis Phinney Foundation which has programs for Parkinson’s Disease. All three of those events have some personal connections with staff or clients.
If a young entrepreneur walked up and asked for your advice but you only had a few minutes to give them your best tip, what would it be?
Being a master of your craft is not enough; you also have to master the art of running a business and to seek out a support system that will help you run your business better. I totally encourage people to own their own businesses, but it’s not easy.
Do you have any hobbies or special interests? What is your favorite thing to do while in Wheat Ridge for fun?
I have 3-year-old twins who have enriched my life more than anything. So, every opportunity I have to be with or play with them, that is what I enjoy doing the most. I also love riding bikes, fly-fishing, playing golf and sailing.
If you had the power to solve one and only one problem in the world, what would it be and why?
I don’t think that we as a global community are happy and I would love to change that.
If you could high five, handshake or hug one person, living or not, who would it be?
I will go with Robin Williams playing Patch Adams. [laughs]
Ready to start living a healthy lifestyle or maybe you have a new or old injury that needs some attention? Whatever may be holding you back, Tom and Vitruvian Fitness have the solution. Vitruvian fitness is open Monday through Thursday from 6am to 8 pm, Friday from 6 am to noon, and Saturday from 8 am to noon. Stop by to see Tom and his team, we think their future is bright in Wheat Ridge and we can’t wait to grow along with them.
To learn more about Vitruvian and to see their class schedule, please visit their website online at: http://www.vmfit.com/