Two Gym Owners and a Tattoo: How a Lucky Break Became a Dream Business

  • /
  • Two Gym Owners and a Tattoo: How a Lucky Break Became a Dream Business

Welcome to our  gym owner business profile. These monthly profiles are created to build vision and share stories of what it takes to start, run, and own a gym. Each privately owned gym tells a new and interesting story. We hope you find their experiences as inspiring as we have! 

Gym profile: The Kage Gym, LLC — Mundelein, IL

Don’t talk to The Kage Gym owners about luck. Although Gonzalo Sanchez and Omar Sanchez (no relation) may use the term to describe their jump into owning a gym at ages 25 and 20, it has nothing to do with what’s happening now.

This newly renovated former powerlifting gym is ready to launch its grand opening September 10th, and if hard work is any indicator of success, they are on their way.

Gonzalo and Omar are running a “name the mascot” campaign. Why a panda? Why not?

Sheer passion. That’s what drives these two.

Sanchez and Sanchez are young by any standards. Yet, it is their personal experiences that led them to seize this opportunity. Both Gonzalo and Omar come from a background of door-to-door newspaper subscription sales — sort of the bootcamp of outside sales. Yet both stayed with it for years – Gonzalo for nearly five, and Omar for two and a half.

Simultaneously, they fell in love with powerlifting during high school and committed to altering their self-described “chubby” bodies into holy grails of health. Shortly thereafter, Gonzalo won second in a bodybuilding show and the stone was set. 

A random text changed destinies.

Gonzalo is a man who likes to stay busy. While recreating his body and discovering his life’s work, he began designing virtual training programs for individuals interesting in transforming their own bodies. As an online coach, he built a community of followers also embracing healthy, fit lives. One day, a client sent him a message, “Hey, would you like to buy a gym?”

Well, why not?

Turns out the original owner (then called Iron Fanatics) was ready to move on. Life’s complexities were taking root and it was time to hand the tool over to a younger set of adventurers. Through face-to-face negotiations, the three settled on $32K. Like most new business owners, they tapped family, bank accounts, and prayers to pull it all together. But when the handshakes stopped, they were the proud owners of a fully equipped, 3,000-square-foot gym with a member base  hovering at 60 — enough to power the lights, and a future.

A few before and after photos…

First move to making it your own gym? Clean the rubber mats.

There’s nothing romantic to taking over someone’ else’s gym.

Nevertheless, the two owners started with a leaf blower to rout out the dust bunnies and tapped friends to drag 70-pound rubber mats outside for power washing. They moved equipment to paint walls, covering up what were, admittedly, some pretty cool illustrations, in order to create a seamless, finished matte black look.

A little creative equipment shuffle blended the hodgepodge of equipment colors, padding and styles so that today’s gym resembles one friendly to every kind of exercise fan. Remarkably, the gym never closed. Clients continued to train through the renovations. 

Taking advantage of good location.

One of Iron Fanatics’ selling points was its location, Gonzalo admits. The gym sits at the intersection of three small, growing towns — yet the nearest competitor is more than five miles away. Kage is surrounded by new home developments within a five-minute drive, and dead center of three high schools.

Their marketing plans capitalize on this advantage, as well as their familiarity with what young fitness buffs want. In addition to a heavy use of social media, the owners are reaching out to select high school students, giving them free-pass cards to hand out to friends at school. Turns out entire teams are interested in training. They are also hoofing it in the neighborhood – passing out flyers to neighbors and setting up an aggressive pre-opening sales campaign with the help of their Gym Insight software.

Currently, they are signing up about one person a day — a good start to their goal of 400 members within a year.

Gonzalo, the former owner, and Omar sealing the deal!

Here’s a tat for the future

The two friends have a running bet – when they make it to 400 members they get tattoos of the gym. But realistically, they are not in a hurry. They are tied to a three-year lease. After that, they’d like to own a location. So for now, Gonzalo explains, “we are going to use this three-year (lease) to make as many mistakes as we can. So when we want to scale, we know what to expect.”

In the interim, they plan to bring on up to 10 personal trainers. The mornings are slow and a roster of older adults guided by trained professionals is one strategy to round out their gym’s business. Opening up their minds and gym to every type of exerciser is also on the agenda. The Kage Gym welcomes both bodybuilders and building bodies – their foundation is about community, they explain. 

“That environment that you create for your members is a determining factor of whether you are going to succeed,” Gonzalo explains. We suspect they are right on track. 

Gym Insight

We hope you’ve enjoyed our client profile. All of our software users run unique, fresh from-the-ground-up gyms, and we are here to make sure each one runs to its optimum capability. Call us today at 1-855-FOR-GYMS to learn how our easy-to-use, affordable gym management software can change your facility for the better. Ask for Anthony, our sales specialist and host of the “Gym Owner’s Podcast.”