What makes me wake up everyday to go to the gym & be a The Little Gym owner is the team excitement to go & teach these kids every day. To have the ability to open the door & create the energy for a team that then provides that energy to the children.
We chose The Little Gym franchise because we wanted to improve the lives of children and we felt like that was the best franchise opportunity to do so.
Do you know anyone who eats, dreams, sleeps, and breathes The Little Gym? My family does just that. It’s been twenty years since my brother suggested we look at a family business. He was 23 and had been out of college for several years and was developing into a fantastic sales guy. I was in college, immersed in college life, with no plans to get involved in a family business; my dad was a successful corporate executive; my mom owned her own consulting business—we all had our own areas of interest.
And then my mom and brother discovered The Little Gym. The rest is history, because we all became engaged in the business of The Little Gym. Funny how things happen—I worked for the gym after I graduated college, taught high school English, then fell right into the entrepreneurial dream when we opened our third location where my husband and I lived. Today our family proudly owns and operates five The Little Gyms.
Having children changed our lives in more ways than one. One of us came from a secure Corporate Banking background that included a good salary and benefits yet was not ‘family friendly’. The other owned a successful business for 10 years that included managing 40 employees 24 hours a day. Two children, 15 months apart, opened our eyes to how important it is to “be there” for our children and be able to raise them in a positive friendly environment around other people. As new parents, we didn’t know a thing!
When we looked for programs for our kids, we could not find anything that met our high standards. Big competitive gymnastics facilities offering recreational programs “on the side”. City-run programs that were inexpensive, but not very good. Places were dirty. Programs didn’t start until the kids were 18 months old, and then children were expected to “stay with their group” because of multiple classes going on at the same time. The ‘leaders’ didn’t seem interested in what they were doing or have a desire to find out about us or be able to provide us with information on where our kids were developmentaly. We saw a need and decided to fill it!
Ten years later—and a third child!—we absolutely LOVE what we do! The smiles on the kids’ faces, the pride in the parent’s faces, watching kids take their first steps, hearing their first words, seeing them beam when they accomplish a new skill and grow their confidence, season after season and year after year. Then their baby siblings start and the cycle continues. Members become friends and friends become “family”. There is nothing like it!
Two of our kids continue to come weekly and love to show their friends what they can do on at school on the playground. They have a new-found confidence that is evident. Our eldest was our first member ever. She is currently a competitive springboard and platform diver, trains eight times per week, and finishes regularly in the top six in our country nationally in her age group.
We just don’t think this success would have been possible without the foundation that was laid during her The Little Gym years, which began when she was very little. That is our message to our community: Children have a ton of potential – and we give them that springboard to success in whatever it is they decide to do with their lives.
I believe there are two types of The Little Gym owners: those who find The Little Gym, and those where The Little Gym finds you. In my 11 years with The Little Gym family, I have seen both. I was amongst the latter. I went to school for theater; I wanted to entertain for a living. During college, I did an internship at Walt Disney World. It was there I realized how much I truly loved and was energized by working with children. It's also where I met my husband Peter, who's been on this crazy journey with me since then!
After Disney, my good friend told me, "You're going to work at The Little Gym. It's perfect for you." My interview was in a wild and crazy 3-year-old class. I ran around, I dried tears, I laughed so hard it hurt, and I left with a huge smile on my face. That class started my The Little Gym career, and a whole new portion of my life.
I worked at the gym in Scottsdale, AZ, for the next 5 years, and reveled in the successes and confidence that The Little Gym program built in children and their families. I then worked at The Little Gym International as a Training Specialist for 5 years, opening up gyms around the world and training teams both new and seasoned. Those 5 years built my business acumen and showed me the characteristics and work ethic distinguishing a successful The Little Gym from an unsuccessful one.
I learned that The Little Gym concept works anywhere. It's the individuals who own and run those gyms that make or break the business. I wanted to be able to implement the great ideas I had seen from hundreds of gyms around the world to give families the impactful, meaningful The Little Gym experience they deserve.
After 10 years in The Little Gym system, Peter and I purchased our very own The Little Gym in Fenton, MO. Every day, I am rewarded by the successes children and parents have every week, the self-confidence we build, and the relationships developed between children and their parents. Our daughter loves growing up at The Little Gym; she climbs the rock wall every chance she gets, and cries when she can't go into each class. Her confidence has grown by leaps and bounds and talking to children and parents are natural for her both at the gym and anywhere else.
We love watching her friendly, happy personality shine through as she gains more and more comfort and confidence every day. Although I couldn't have anticipated owning my own business when I started this journey 15 years ago, The Little Gym has helped me become a better person, parent and mentor to my team and parents.
In April 1999, Bill began working at The Little Gym. He was in college and was looking for part-time work on the weekends. Being an education major, he always enjoyed working with kids, like pretty much everyone that works at The Little Gym. He immediately found himself enjoying the positive atmosphere.
In February 2000, Katie was hired to work birthday parties while still in high school. Katie and Bill began working birthday parties together every weekend! Quickly, they began teaching classes as well, and soon after, moved into manager positions at The Little Gym. They enjoyed working together and shortly after began dating, got engaged, and got married in 2005—Bill even worked with Randy to write a song to Katie, "TLG style,” as a surprise wedding gift that was presented during the reception!
Even in the early part of their relationship, Katie and Bill talked about one day opening up their own The Little Gym. They always felt that part of it was real, part was fantasy. In 2007, Katie and Bill were approached by someone that wanted to be partners with them and open up their own TLG. They thought long and hard and decided to go for it. The situation was perfect because they could stay close to home and family. Finally, fantasy was becoming reality!
On April 6, 2009, their dream came true! Katie and Bill opened up TLG of Brecksville. They started their gym with an amazing team and were successful from the beginning. Soon after, they knew they wanted to become multiple gym owners. On April 3, 2013, they took over ownership of The Little Gym of Westgate and on June 15, 2015, they became the newest franchise owners of The Little Gym of Twinsburg.
On top of living life as successful multiple gym owners, they have three beautiful girls who come to The Little Gym with them each and every day and now have a 4th child. Anjali, Jaz, Kailiana, and their newest addition have become the "mascots" for their The Little Gym! Although both Katie and Bill work many hours in the gym, they are living their dream!
The most rewarding part of owning a The Little Gym is being together as a family in such a family-friendly atmosphere and being in an environment where kids want to learn and have fun. They also love the freedom of being their own bosses!
Thank You TLG!
To be part of The Little Gym franchise to me has truly meant the world for many different reasons. One is that I get to be my own boss, set my own schedule, and be in my children’s life events.
As a The Little Gym owner, I am excited about being a part of Unleashed Brands. I think it is going to give us an amazing opportunity to look at the things we were doing well but not doing excellent, and really hone in on some of those things.