ANN ARBOR – Sponsored content
A local business owner is using his lifelong experience in the “big-box” gym industry to carve a different path for his budding boutique fitness chain.
Michael Stack, a resident of Saline and UM graduate spent 10 years as a personal trainer at Bally Total Fitness before launching his own enterprise-Applied Fitness Solutions; in Ann Arbor in the fall of 2007.
“I always joke with our staff that you can learn a lot from your experiences. Most of the time you learn how to do things, but sometimes you learn even more about how not to do things!”
Growing up in gyms, Stack said he noticed several shortcomings in the traditional “gym” model and became increasingly frustrated with the disconnect between the general public and the education they needed to get themselves healthier.
“I didn’t understand why guidance was always an afterthought, when I started AFS I wanted it to be the foundation of our service.”
Stack set out to create a fitness option that was less focused on amenities and more focused on education.
"When I was doing personal training I became sort of known for giving my clients a lot of behind the scenes support, I'd grade their food logs, write workouts they could do at home, call them throughout the week to check in, I'd basically just stay more involved than what was expected," Stack said.
"Opening AFS, I wanted to keep that guidance and accountability going, but I wanted to give it to all my clients, not just the ones who paid extra for personal training, so I created sort of a hybrid between group classes and one on one coaching," he added.
At AFS, clients pay $35 per month to have their own degreed and certified coach help them with lifestyle and habit change, and in addition they attend a few trainer guided group exercise classes per week (each with their own affordable price point). This was the concept that convinced Devin Tarrant, co-owner and operating partner of Applied’s Plymouth location, that he wanted to be involved. Tarrant, an Aquinas grad and former personal trainer, cited human connection as the most fulfilling part of being involved with AFS.
"I knew how close I was with my personal training clients, so to have the opportunity to have that kind of relationship with every single person that comes through your doors, that's just something you don't see anymore."
To further connect with their clients, AFS recently introduced their own proprietary software and mobile application that allows members to send messages to their trainer, track their progress, schedule classes, and access educational content. Stack and Tarrant credit the technology updates with maintaining a consistent experience:
“We don’t aim to serve our clients, we aim to delight them- A call when you miss a class; a card from the staff when you’re sick. Being organized with the technology allows us to never miss an opportunity to show someone we care,” Tarrant says.
Applied Fitness Solutions of Plymouth opened for business in February of 2015 and has seen steady growth, now boasting over 1300 clients. Located on the corner of Ann Arbor and Haggerty Road, the 15,000 sq. foot building is the same one Stack worked in as a personal trainer in 2002! Sixteen years and lots of lives changed later, Stack’s journey with fitness has come full circle and he’s landed in a position he describes as ultimate fulfillment.
“I’m a type-A person, so I don’t slow down and reflect very often, but every now and then I have to pinch myself. I get up every day, go to work with my best friends, and we have a blast broadening our wellness reach with relationships. I can’t see myself doing anything else!”
“I credit much of our growth to the amazing community of clients we have, they make AFS feel like home, which I think really permeates the entire experience and makes it worth sharing.”
In addition to their popular “weight loss solution” classes, AFS also offers a guided strength training class, a high intensity circuit called “fitness solution,” a mobility class for increasing flexibility, massage therapy, and several specialized programs for young athletes.
For more information on Applied Fitness Solutions, visit 4afsfit.com.
This story was sponsored by Applied Fitness Solutions.