Two thousand dollars and an idea.
That was the foundation to the beginning of Mountainside Fitness. In those days I called it Mountainside Gym. It was a little 4,800 sq. ft. fitness center located in Mountainside Plaza (hence the name) founded in Ahwatukee, AZ. It was 1991, I was a 23 year old Junior at Arizona State University, and simply put, I thought it would be great to own my own business. With a loan from a local credit union and a family friend I had a grand total of $32,000 to start Mountainside. My roommate and I built some of the equipment ourselves. We welded, painted and even upholstered all the free weight equipment. My family helped paint, hang mirrors and even sell memberships. True sweat equity in every sense of the word. In March of 1991 Mountainside Fitness was born. With three hundred pre-sold memberships and the excitement of owning my own business, my goals were clear. If I could stay open for two years that would be better than most first time business owners. Our motto was to be “the friendliest gyms in town” and our logo was a cactus named Spike, drawn by my sister. Our signature was free towel service to everyone! This would have been easier if I could have afforded a washer and dryer. In the beginning my routine was set. I closed the gym at 11PM; I would then clean the gym and take all the dirty towels home to wash and dry. At 11:30 PM I would start the wash and put the last load in the dryer by 2AM. Grabbed some sleep in between and get back to the gym by 8AM and do it all over again. On Saturdays I’d work in the morning usually till about 10AM and then go paint houses the rest of the day and also Sundays. Painting houses was the way I paid my way through college and saved enough money to start Mountainside. Fast forward to when I finally had enough money to buy a washer and dryer for the gym. What a great day! It was too bad we had to put it in the Men’s locker room. Oh well, it worked, and sometimes the male members would even help do a load. With the combination of good fortune and some strategic business moves, I was able to open my second location in 1994. Two years later, I purchased some real estate with an SBA Loan and built my first ground-up Mountainside Fitness Center, replacing the 4,800 sq. ft. gym with an 18,000 sq. ft. facility. Fast Forward – 25 years later and Mountainside Fitness is the largest locally owned health club chain in the state of Arizona. With 14 fitness centers across the valley and more to come, membership will increase to just over 60,000 active members. Yes, Mountainside Fitness has changed over the years, but our foundation has not. We are still the “friendliest gyms in town” still offering free towel service never forgetting our roots. This is why I thank all of our members that have been so supportive these past 25 years! You have truly shaped us from the beginning and are what makes it possible for Mountainside to continue to grow and strive to be the best value for your fitness needs.
In good health,