Brian Dokter is manager and personal trainer at the East Grand Rapids CoachMeFit, a Michigan franchise that is rapidly expanding
Unlike a general membership fitness clubs where hundreds of people work out each day, CoachMeFit prides itself on providing personalized training in a semi-private setting. Its clients come in all ages, abilities and fitness levels.
Lindsay Bogdasarian founded CoachMeFit in the basement of her home in 2001 and opened the first CoachMeFit studio in Ann Arbor the following year. The company started franchising in 2008 and opened studios in Birmingham, West Bloomfield and East Grand Rapids between February and May.
Bogdasarian owns the Ann Arbor CoachMeFit studio. Two studios are privately owned and the third is owned under a private/corporate partnership. Six more studios are being planned for development, she said.
“I wanted to expand the business and take it to the next level to reach more people,” Bogdasarian said. “We had worked on opening corporate locations but that didn’t seem to be as good a model to us: We found that people really did a better job when they had an ownership stake in the business. It took a number of years before we perfected the business systems enough to go ahead and franchise.”
CoachMeFit studios offer a more private workout environment. Bogdasarian said a lot of people have become disenchanted with the big gym environment because they feel intimidated and self-conscious. There are typically no more than three or four people working out at one time in a CoachMeFit studio. She said the majority of clients are looking for help with weight loss and body toning. Typically, they’re people who have tried other programs in the past but have not stuck with them.
“Our trainers are really focused on designing individualized workouts for clients, so no two people do the very same workout. It’s very much about what the individual needs and what is going to work for them.”
Each CoachMeFit sets its own fees. The East Grand Rapids facility charges $65 an hour for a 10-session package of personal training and $60 an hour for a 20-session package, but sessions can be purchased individually, said Manager Brian Dokter. He said most clients chose a package so they can work toward their fitness goals over a period of time. A package also tends to make them more accountable for keeping up a fitness routine.
Dokter previously worked at a sports training facility in Holland and found the CoachMeFit model very appealing. He said that from a corporate franchise standpoint, CoachMeFit offers owners guidance in developing sales and marketing programs and in the financial aspects of the business. A CoachMeFit studio has a different feel to it than any other fitness center he’s ever been in or worked in, he said.
“It has a one-on-one private kind of feel to it. It’s a semiprivate environment so there are only a few people working out at the same time,” Dokter remarked. “It’s not intimidating like a huge big box gym can be; it’s very personalized. Our clients don’t come here to show off or be seen by people; they come here to actually get results. From a trainer’s perspective that’s great, because I know the people that are here are here for the right reasons — they want to achieve their fitness goals.”
The CoachMeFit studios are about 2,500 square feet in size and have basically the same equipment, including cardio, weight, free weights, balance, yoga and Pilates equipment. The company also offers nutrition counseling, healthy lifestyle coaching and customized group training services for an additional fee.
The East Grand Rapids studio has five personal trainers, all of whom hail from the metro Grand Rapids area. Dokter has a degree in exercise science from Cornerstone University and is a National Strength and Conditioning Association certified strength and conditioning specialist. The other four trainers also have bachelor’s degrees in exercise-related fields and personal training certifications.
CoachMeFit has been making itself known in the East Grand Rapids community by participating in health and fitness events, such as sponsoring booths at the Fifth Third River Bank Run and the Reeds Lake Run.
“We’re part of the Gaslight Village Business Association. We try to get out in the community as much as we can to support healthy events,” Dokter said. “We advertise locally in Cadence. We are trying to be involved on a much more local scene as opposed to big-scene Grand Rapids marketing. We really call East Grand Rapids our home.”