Owning a gym wasn’t a calculated business move or something I had ever planned to do. In 2006, I started training two people, and we worked out at 10:30 p.m. in my basement. Our only rules were this: you HAD to be there no matter what, you had to do your best, and you couldn’t force others to come. Our training was open to all, but it wasn’t for everyone. Two turned to seven, and soon we were working out at 12:30 a.m. too. Time went by and lives were changing, bodies looking different. People gained self-esteem and better lives. It was awesome, and it opened my eyes.
In 2007, Shelby flooded and our basement gym was destroyed. I was walking through downtown Plymouth one day, and I saw a store for sale. I put in an off er and received an answer: my offer wasn’t enough. The very next day, I got a call: the pipes had broken and flooded the store. My offer had been accepted. A friend and I gutted the building, blocked the doors and windows, and remodeled in total secret. We worked all day, every day. It was a disaster. Before long I was broke and asking myself, “What am I doing?” When I revealed that I was opening a gym, I was surprised to find that many people were skeptical. But I was determined. Over 1,000 people came to see the gym during our open house in 2010. I had no idea what I was doing, but there I was, days away from opening. I did what I could to make people feel comfortable, to make the focus solely on the people and what they wanted to accomplish.
I remember getting our first member on opening day: it was Charlie Doan. He paid for the whole year, right then and there. It was one of those moments that relieves you but makes you nervous at the same time. Someone had faith in me, faith that I’d stay open for a year! Each day, a new person came in and signed up. People weren’t lined up to get in, but as membership grew, I strove to help them as much as I could. I was there all day, every day. People were seeing results and making friends. It was a great feeling, and I loved it! Years went by again and my small gym was again bursting at the seams. I made the decision to stop taking new members since we had outgrown our space. I looked for a larger space in Plymouth, but I couldn’t find anything suitable. I purchased a building in Willard to open Levels’ second location.
Starting Levels has been the most rewarding experience of my life. While all my friends have gone on to get married and have children, I literally have spent almost all my waking hours working on the gym and its members. They have become friends, and I’d even call them my family. While many now thank me for starting a gym and helping them get healthy, I would have to say that I thank them for adding a special value to my life that I can’t convey with words. So if you are looking to get healthy and come to a place that can change you, we would love to have you here at Levels!
- Bruce Tanner, Owner