Wise, VA (July 2, 2018) – For lifelong friends Jordan Smith and Tyler Castle, there was always tennis and cross country tossed in with a little basketball and baseball as the two grew up together, attending Lebanon High School. They also lifted weights and along the way, they talked about what it would be like to own their own gym.
Earlier this year, Smith and Castle took it to the next level, and turned the talk about owning a gym into actually owning and operating a gym as they opened Next Level Fitness Club on Main Street in their hometown of Lebanon, Va., in early March.
With the assistance of an up to $10,000 seed capital matching grant from the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority (VCEDA), Smith and Castle have been able to add equipment, signage, and more.
“Assisting small business entrepreneurs like Jordan Smith and Tyler Castle to be able to realize their plans of owning and operating a business in the region is a primary goal of the VCEDA seed capital matching grant program,” said VCEDA Executive Director/General Counsel Jonathan Belcher. “The Next Level Fitness Club fit right into the program, as not only does it help to build and grow one of our VCEDA communities, but according to the owners, it also anticipates providing two full-time and two part-time jobs within five years.”
Now, four months after opening the doors, the pair have refurbished the space on 1363 E. Main Street, cleaning, painting, installing new floor mats and bringing on new equipment to make the gym what they always envisioned.
“We still have a little work to do, but it’s coming along,” says Smith. “The VCEDA seed capital matching grant really sped up the process for us and Margie Douglass at the Small Business Development Center at Southwest Virginia Community College has been a lot of help to us through this process as well.”
“We’ve talked about doing something like this since middle school,” Smith adds about his conversations through the years with Castle. “After we got out of college, we started lifting together and talked about it some more. It seems like we talked about it forever, but now the dream has become reality.”
The pair have been lifelong friends. After graduating from high school, Smith went on to King College where he ran cross country and track and ultimately finished up with a Masters Degree in Business Administration. Castle also went to King and earned his bachelor’s degree in business. That background, coupled with their own sports backgrounds, has helped in the day-to-day operation of the new business.
They opened the gym as a fitness club which is always open — 24/7 — with members having a key to access the space if it is after normal daytime hours. They have signed up 202 members thus far and continue to grow the business.
Memberships are $40 per month – just a little more than $1 per day. A discount is offered for students, lowering the rate for students to $35 per month. A couple’s membership is offered for $70; a family of three membership for $95; and a family of four membership is available for $105.
The gym is well-equipped with Life Fitness strengthening equipment, squat racks, leg presses, dumbbells, weight benches, chest presses, shoulder presses, treadmills, a rower, stationery and elliptical bikes, crunch machines, cardio fitness machines; chin dip/pull-up bars and more. Plyometric jump boxes, medicine balls, kettle bells and jump ropes round out the equipment offerings.
Three different cleaning stations are set up throughout the gym.
Plans call for the addition of a fitness trainer option, which both agree will appeal to some of the gym’s members looking for additional help in strength and fitness training. Spin bikes are also on the list and t-shirts, decals, blender bottles and more are already offered at the front desk store.
Both note that having grown up in the Lebanon area, community is important to them and to that end they have become involved in the community with Next Level Fitness chipping in as a sponsor of various Russell County events from search and rescue to school events.
“We feel it is important to give back to the community,” Castle says.
Next Level Fitness is working on a website now, but in the meantime may be found on Facebook at Next Level Fitness Club and may be reached by email at email@example.com.
About Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority and Virginia’s e-Region: The Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority, created by the Virginia General Assembly in 1988 to enhance and diversify the region’s economy and help create jobs, markets Virginia’s e-Region and its focus on electronic information technology, energy, education and emerging technologies. VCEDA is a unique economic development organization that manages funds for economic development projects from a percentage of the coal and natural gas severance taxes paid by coal and natural gas companies that operate in the region. Located in southwestern Virginia, the region includes Buchanan, Dickenson, Lee, Russell, Scott, Tazewell, and Wise counties and the City of Norton. www.vceda.us or www.e-Region.org.