Leaning on years of experience in the fitness industry, Rey Perez opened Fitness Authority in Honaker last year. When the longtime trainer needed a business coach in his own corner, he turned to the Southwest Virginia SBDC.
“I’ve worked in gyms and trained a lot of people over the years — including world champion boxers,” Rey says.
His vision for a gym in Honaker, a small town of 1,500, contains all the accouterments to entice the novice gym-goer. Even if some members of Fitness Authority aren’t competing for titles, Rey’s ambition is to provide everyone with the tools to pursue and surpass their own fitness goals.
“In Honaker our goal is to get the average person off the couch to exercise,” he explains. “We have ellipticals, treadmills, a free weights section, and full-circuit training equipment.”
To help purchase equipment and outfit his gym, Rey applied for a Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority (VCEDA) grant and contacted the Southwest SBDC for advice. The SBDC helped him secure that funding, reviewed his business plan, and offered additional guidance as Fitness Authority became more established.
“Director Margie Douglass, a wonderful person to work with, assisted with the application,” he says. “I put a lot of capital into the gym, but that $6,500 grant helped.”
Now with plenty of momentum behind him, Rey is continuing to advance on new targets.
“The SBDC gave us a clear vision of what our goals should be,” Rey adds. “This year’s goal is to increase membership and offer corporate packages.”
Those goals are coming to fruition as Fitness Authority has grown steadily since its 2021 opening. The gym recently signed its 100th member, and Rey added another employee. He also purchased $3,000 in equipment without incurring debt and projects to add more positions within the next five years.
And even with the success Fitness Authority has experienced, Rey still relies on the guidance of Margie and the SBDC to continue moving toward future goals.
“I give the SBDC five stars across the board,” Rey says. “Margie did a great job of explaining things to us — and her friendliness was unsurpassed!”
Rey thinks every small business should start with a visit to the SBDC. That’s high praise from a championship trainer who knows the importance of a good advisor.
“I highly recommend the SBDC to anyone starting a business,” he concludes. “I’d advise every new business owner to go the SBDC route first. There’s a lot of help behind what they have to offer.”