FastFitness expands, hailed as small business success

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 31 July 2015 at 12:00 am

Photos by Tom Rivers – Kim Lockwood, owner of FastFitness in Medina, recently added a tanning business, FasTan. Lockwood, right, is pictured with FasTan manager Danielle Waters at the site, which was a garage and has been renovated with five tanning booths.

MEDINA – In 2004, Kim Lockwood wanted to start a women’s-only gym. She was working as an occupational therapist for the VA in Batavia at the time.

But Lockwood believed there was potential in a business that catered to women with their own gym.

She brought passion and lots of energy to her goal. But she didn’t have a business background. She took a 10-week class through the Orleans Economic Development Agency, a class that helped her develop a business plan and also included insights on taxes, marketing, legal issues, computer skills and other issues.

Lockwood also used a low-interest loan through the EDA’s revolving loan fund to open FastFitness in 2004. She started the business in Albion and added a FastFitness in Medina in 2010. (She sold the Albion location which is now XPress Fitness.)

In 2013, with the Medina site on Main Street crammed for space, Lockwood moved to 627 West Ave., in a former hardware store. She tripled the space for the gym, and six months later opened a fitness room next to the gym for women to take Zumba and other exercise classes. During her winter peak, Lockwood has more than 400 members at FastFitness.

Kim Lockwood, left, gave up a job as an occupational therapist with the VA in Batavia to start FastFitness, a gym for women only. Lockwood credited assistance and ongoing expertise from her business advisor through the Small Business Development Center. Lockwood is pictured with her advisor Sam Campanella, third from left, and another business advisor Dick Pettine, left. Both serve as instructors with the Microenterprise Assistance Program, which is directed by Diane Blanchard, second from left. Lockwood graduated from that 10-week program in 2004 and continues to get advice from her business advisor.

When she was in the MAP program in 2004, she worked with Sam Campanella, one of the class instructors and a small business advisor with the NYS Small Business Development Center.

Campanella has been a frequent resource for Lockwood, connecting her with consultants for marketing, legal issues and accounting. He pitched an idea to Lockwood. He thought a tanning business would complement FastFitness.

Lockwood researched the issue and crunched the numbers with Campanella. She opened FasTan in March at 627 West Ave., in the same building with FastFitness. She already has more than 200 tanning clients using five tanning booths, including a stand-up booth, a 10-minute tanning booth and a 12-minute tanning booth.

The quick tanning sessions give people a chance to swing by on a lunch break, Lockwood said.

Lockwood is considered one of the biggest success stories in the small business training and assistance program through the EDA, said Diane Blanchard, MAP coordinator.

Lockwood said the small business assistance has been invaluable, and critical for her to grow her business.

Campanella said Lockwood has the key qualities for a successul entrepreneur.

“You need the ability to work hard and work smart,” he said today while visiting Lockwood at FastFitness and FasTan. “You need to have vision and determination and a don’t-give-up attitude. You need to understand the business you’re in.”

Kim Lockwood has a stand-up tanning booth at FasTan, which has five tanning booths at 627 West Ave.

Campanella and Pettine are both part-time certified business advisors. Campanella works out of GCC in Batavia and has 48 clients while Pettine works out of Brockport State College and has 58 clients.

Diane Blanchard, the Microenterprise Assistance Program coordinator, said the two are great resources for business owners. They can help get a business off to a good start and help as business owners grapple with other issues later on.

“They are an advisor forever,” Blanchard said.

Lockwood has grown from using 1,200 square feet on Main Street in Medina to 7,500 square feet at the current location, a former hardware store and garage.

She said the success of the business has her thinking about adding more locations. She has applied to be on the Shark Tank show for a big capital investment to turn FastFitness into franchises. She is waiting to hear from the show.

In the meantime, she may add another location nearby. She said she is grateful she made the decision in 2004 to start the business, and see the hundreds of people who have improved their health and confidence through FastFitness.

The EDA is starting another MAP class on Sept. 8. The program runs through Nov. 17. For more information about MAP, call Blanchard at (585) 589-7060 ext. 101.