Howard Magazine - Page 16 - Free fitness

Howard Magazine
- Page 16
Free fitness
By Valerie bonk For Howard Magazine

A Columbia gym finds unusual success in turning donation-based

After one local couple fell in love over fitness, they were excited to open a gym in Columbia.

But it wasn’t exactly the success that they were hoping to find in a new business. “It ended up being just another gym in Columbia,” said Michelle March, 29, who opened the Point Fitness in December with her boyfriend, Jacob Haiss. “We had no customer flow and went months without anyone coming in.”

So they had a drastic idea: Take away the $15-a-month membership fee and become a “free gym.”

In March, they started running completely on donations.

“I figured if we went out of business because our gym didn’t work, that’s one thing, but if we went out of business without anyone ever knowing we’re here, that would really be a shame,” March said.

And going free is working out.

Between December and March they made a total of $90 in membership fees. Since turning donation-based, the gym has made more than that every week in donations.

“We’ve had more people coming in than we ever had before because we’re different than other gyms now,” said Haiss, 27, co-owner of the Point Fitness. “People hear ‘free gym’ and they wonder what the catch is, and once they find out that there are no strings attached they tell their friends and word of mouth just keeps spreading.”

Use of the equipment, the open space and taking classes like Zumba are completely free and on the donation-based system.

The only services that cost money are one-onone training programs.

Both March and Haiss are certified personal trainers and offer their services for a fee out