Just Keep Moving Fitness - Manhattan, NY
Tauris McBride relied on his own experience with weight loss and getting in shape as the springboard for his business, Just Keep Moving Fitness in Manhattan. He sifted through those programs that were not working for him at other fitness centers, and used the successful ones as the foundation for his own program.
McBride had lost 150 pounds in a year by taking a variety of group classes at local fitness studios. He loved the encouragement and camaraderie that the classes offered, but he was spending a lot of money each month so that he and his children could take part in those activities.
"It was costing literally thousands of dollars a month for me and my kids," said McBride, who at the time was making a generous salary as a technical director at a local trade school. "I realized that most people couldn't afford that."
McBride used his own money, a loan from a friend and a small business loan to open his first Just Keep Moving Fitness studio in January 2012. A year later he opened a second exercise studio, four blocks away from the first location.
Both Just Keep Moving studios were building a steady clientele, and McBride needed to hire more instructors to meet demand. That's when he turned to NYBDC and the SBA's Community Advantage loan program. The Community Advantage fund focuses on small businesses in underserved communities, with a goal of driving economic growth and creating jobs. The targeted program was launched in early 2011 and provides 7(a) loans up to $250,000 for business acquisitions, leasehold improvements, financing debt, equipment and working capital.
McBride used his $50,000 Community Advantage loan to cover payroll and expenses through the down time. It took some time to get approved for the loan, McBride said, because he first had to straighten out a glaring financial error made by his accountant. McBride took the opportunity to learn bookkeeping skills that helped him keep a tighter rein on his finances.
"My experience with NYBDC was like a crash business course. I would not have known that I had a problem with my financials, or that my credit score had fraudulent reportings. They really helped me to become a better businessperson," he said.
He has since consolidated to a single location. The first location, a basement of a co-op building, became problematic because it was difficult for most clients to access. The second location was also problematic because the activity in the studio was disturbing the tenants below.
"Plus, I decided I couldn't have two separate messages under one brand," McBride said. One location was accommodating classes in martial arts, boxing, Boot Camp and similar strenuous workouts, and the other was offering instruction in yoga, Pilates and dance.
McBride is also increasing brand awareness through a fitness product and instructional video that he expects to have on the market by the end of this year. The equipment was designed for home use and serves multiples purposes as a punching bag, aerobic step or accompaniment for yoga or Pilates.
"It's important to reach people outside of this space," McBride said. "This will help me get to the next level."