A fire that destroyed a historic building in De Pere in April did not destroy the growth plans for XO Fitness, a tenant in the building.

“We were in the process of renovating our new location at 115 N. Wisconsin Street (De Pere) when our operating studio in the building burned to the ground with all our equipment.  In the mad dash that ensued to re-open, we found ourselves to be fortunate beyond belief,” commented Ryan Jennings, business owner.

The former Green Bay SCORE client and his wife, Karin, have seen their business evolve since opening about 12 years ago.  What started as a personal training business now includes circuit and cardio training and a bar class.

“The biggest change came when we moved into our new space because we finally have the room to expand beyond personal training,” Karin explained. “It was big picture so we could serve a broader number of people; not only those who want personal training but also those looking for a more flexible and affordable option.”

Although the move was planned, the space was being remodeled when the fire occurred and was a few months away from completion.  The reaction of their clients reflected the sense of community they have developed.  To get open, the Jennings said that clients loaned equipment, bought lunch, and even paid dues in advance so they would have the resources needed. 

Within a few days, XO Fitness was open for business in the new location. 

The building, former home to a church, includes a 4,000 sq. ft. studio and three tenant spaces.  By purchasing the building, the Jennings said they are able to reduce expenses while modifying their business plan.

Karin noted, “We admittedly have doggedly stuck with our general business plan since we opened just before the great recession during which our business plan was HODL (Hold On for Dear Life).  Our venture into our new space is because we realized that even in a booming economy our revenue would be limited because our offerings were limited by the available space.”

The new plan was years in the making. Changes in technology interested them, and as they considered adding circuit training, the machines were becoming very high tech.  By the time the move was planned, they were able to purchase machines that have video-screen programs that can be changed daily. That allows for continuously new challenges and prevents boredom.

The circuit can handle about 10 people at a time and takes about 15 minutes to go around once, but people can add circuits if they are motivated and able to do so.

With this equipment and the addition of stationary cardio equipment, the gym now includes options for personal training (done by the Jennings and three part-time instructors), monthly memberships, daily passes, and punch cards.  Pricing was based on a competitive analysis of the market.  Now their challenge is to get the word out and increase the number of clients by promoting the gym’s niche.

Karin stated, “XO Fitness is smaller and less crowded that the big box gym.  We’re kind of like “Cheers” where everybody knows your name.  It’s one thing to say your huge gym isn’t intimidating and then there is us. There’s no comparison.”

The friendly feel is enhanced by an active Facebook page and email newsletter that offers information on classes, new programs, and fitness tips.  But you won’t find any trendy nutrition or exercise articles.

“We are wary of diets and trends and cautious about bringing in things that might be tossed out.  Whatever we do needs to be tried and true with the science behind it.  We recommend a very fundamental approach to diet and fitness,” Karin noted.

The basic approach means doing an assessment of a client’s current condition with a focus on strength, balance, and flexibility.  They stress that their gym isn’t for body builders – it is for people who are looking for a place to gain fitness that will allow them to have more energy for day-to-day tasks. 

“It’s important to be consistent and set aside a time and place to exercise,” Karin encouraged.  “Setting goals and writing them down is a great place to start. ‘Someday’ is not a day of the week.”

Tina Dettman-Bielefeldt is co-owner of DB Commercial Real Estate in Green Bay and Past District Director for SCORE, Wisconsin.


Green Bay Press-Gazette

Ryan and Karin Jennings