By Susan O'Keefe
Imagine your preacher and pediatrician pumping iron in your gym. Throw in your banker building his biceps. Add a few folks from the neighborhood, a college buddy or two, and maybe even your hair stylist. If you can see the mental picture in your mind's eye, then you have a glimpse of the personal fitness zone Ty and Tori Miller have been diligently creating this last year. They attribute the quick growth of 24/7 Fitness, in part, to simply paying close attention to the customer.
"I focused on every member. I want every member to be comfortable and well taken care of," says Ty.
"He's on the floor visiting and giving personal time," adds Tori.
24/7 Fitness bills itself as the club that never closes. It wants to cater to a certain niche of fitness fanatics that seek a cozier workout setting or merely need a gym's schedule to match their own.
"Some people like the smaller, quaint setting," says Ty describing the 4,000 square foot location on Salem Road. Call Salem the firstborn and the Meadowlake location the second child and still an infant. Meadowlake's 24/7 Fitness opened just a couple of months ago and is already reaping the benefits of a face lift.
"While about 30% of our members are college students, we have another consistent group of seniors, industrial workers with odd hours" and then a mixed bag of members that make up the roster of Salem's 24/7 Fitness. Grinning, owners Ty and Tori like to think of the always open gym akin to giving every member a key to their own personal gym. Giving credence to its name, it's no surprise that a trainer shows up at 3:30 in the morning for a client!
As they look forward to celebrating the first birthday of 24/7 Fitness in September, the Millers look back on what's easily dubbed a whirlwind year. Just a year ago, this young, energetic couple was building a house, caring for twin two-year olds plus preparing to jump head first into a new business venture.
Without even consulting her calendar, Tori recalls with a laugh "We moved into our house the same weekend we opened this place!"
Both Millers have always had an affinity for fitness. He's a UCA baseball alum with an Exercise Science degree. Originally from Plainview, Texas, Ty speaks highly of his experience as an employee of AXCIOM's Wellness Center and a personal trainer at Conway Regional Health and Fitness Center. Both of those job opportunities came before his career in medical sales, which often demanded Ty spend time on the road, away from home and family.
Tori's sports resume includes high school track, basketball, and volleyball. For almost a decade, she coached volleyball in Greenbrier. She has a marathon under her belt and is always eager to learn a new skill to share with her kids, both the ones at home and at school! Tori beams with pride when talking about her kids at Marguerite Vann Elementary where she teaches physical education. Not so long ago, his work in medical sales and her work as a teacher made for smooth, steady sailing. So why rock the boat? Why open a new gym in Conway?
It started with a visit to Monroe, Louisiana, similar in size and makeup to Conway. Long-time friends Wade and Sissy Collins invited the Millers to Monroe to peruse the fitness center they were operating, a cousin to 24/7 Fitness. You might say the Collins put out the bait and the Millers were hooked! An answered prayer resulted in a partnership between the Millers and Collins who now jointly own 24/7 Fitness.
"It worked there so it could work here," Ty says, after visiting Monroe, adding that Conway's economic status is in better shape than Monroe's plus the couples have a deep sense of commitment to community.
"We value our roots here. In our business decisions, we aren't sole decision makers. We live, interact, have relationships with lots of people here," says Tori.
As any small business owner realizes, in the beginning, there is certainly a season of wearing a multitude of hats. Being the boss means processing payroll plus taking out trash. For the Millers, this business deal is long-term and one they believe will pay off in ways other than just financial. They anticipate flexibility which will offer a chance to coach their kids' ball teams or snag that front row seat at a dance recital.
Ty envisions the future with anticipation. "We're in season right now to get this small business up and off the ground. We'll be in off season one of these days."
To know where you're going, it's helpful to know where you've been. And for Tori, thinking back means a picture with Mom when "she was teaching an exercise class and I was 6 or 8 years old." For Ty, it was "asking for dumb bells and ankle weights for Christmas" as a kid!
So it seems the fitness seeds were planted at an early age and are now continuing to be sown! Ty and Tori speak of blessings and business growth exceeding their expectations.
"I like to give Ty some credit but God gets the real credit," and not only in this case, but 24/7.