Downtown Springfield business owner sells after 15 years of growth

3:00 p.m Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017 Business
Pat Frock, second from right, is selling Springfield Health and Fitness to, from left, Jeff Fourman, Alexis Fourman and Blake Shaffer after more than 15 years. It started with 250 square feet in the Bushnell Building and grew to 4,300 square feet and more than 40 employees at the former News-Sun building. Bill Lackey/Staff

Pat Frock was skeptical at first when a friend encouraged her to buy Springfield Health and Fitness, a 250-square-foot space that was part of a cardiac rehab center in the Bushnell Building downtown.

Frock, a regional vice president for Burger King at the time, originally planned to buy it just to sell off the gym equipment for a quick profit. Instead, she spent more than a decade building it into a 43,000-square-foot fitness center at 202 N. Limestone St. where she hosts national and regional power-lifting tournaments.

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Now she has decided to sell the gym to a group of Springfield business owners with plans to relax on a small farm in New Carlisle. However Frock said she still plans to provide training services for her clients throughout the week.

Many independent gyms fail due to competition from national chains, she said. But her staff and customers in Springfield went out of their way to make the business work. The gym also doesn’t require contracts, which she said can be a financial burden for some customers, particularly if they later decide they’re not interested in being a member.

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“I can’t tell you how many friends have gotten locked into a three-year contract,” Frock said.

Instead she said she had to cap the gym’s membership three times while it was located in the Bushnell Building because it kept outgrowing the available space. The gym now has about 45 employees, including trainers and class instructors, she said.

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And she said she’s been on hand every day to talk to clients and run the day-to-day business, which isn’t always the case at some larger gyms.

The new owners include Jeff and Alexis Fourman and Blake Shaffer. It’s been Alexis Fourman’s dream to own her own fitness center, the couple said, and both sides had been talking about a possible sale for the past year. The new owners aren’t anticipating any major changes, Shaffer said, and will continue to provide a venue for power-lifters.

The business also provides a variety of classes, including boxing fitness and spinning, and Shaffer said it’s possible additional classes will be added.

“For me, it’s a no-brainer and I want to be part of this,” Shaffer said.

Springfield residents often go out of their way to help a local company succeed, Frock said, which helped her business thrive downtown.

“It is really surprising how local people will step up and support a local business,” Frock said.

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