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ZANESVILLE — Bill Schimmel has spent most of his adult life using sports psychology and exercise science to make activity a way of life for his clients.

The 1985 John Glenn graduate began his path to personal training while attending graduate school at the University of Miami in 1990, where he worked part-time at Bally’s in Cincinnati. It was there that he customized individual fitness programs for over 1,000 people, from children to seniors.

He eventually earned his master’s degree and returned to Zanesville, where he opened his own gym, Schimmel Fitness, in 1997. Nearly three decades later, he’s still serving the community.

Schimmel Fitness, located at 35 N. Fourth Street, is currently celebrating its 25th year in business. It remains unique in a city with no shortage of fitness facilities. He specializes in the same thing Schimmel did in his youth – custom workouts for clients with fellow personal trainers Jason Brock and Karen Hoppstock Svab.

Schimmel bought the old Henneberg Furniture building across from the old Masonic Temple. Over time, he transformed it into a multi-faceted fitness center, whose humble beginnings started with a treadmill and some weights.

Now it offers everything from free weights and traditional workout machines to spinning, massage, and a golf driving range. The locker rooms are spacious and suitable for professionals who might need to hang up a suit while slipping into an afternoon practice session.

The trio of trainers bring their own niche.

Schimmel, who holds a master’s degree in sports performance and behavior, focuses on the mental aspects of training. He started working with golfers and later formed the Ohio State women’s soccer team.

“Exercise is behavior change,” Schimmel said. “It’s no different than quitting smoking, or quitting drinking or whatever. It’s not about quitting, it’s about changing your behavior. exercise is the same thing. I focus more on that.”

Svab, from the Akron area, is a certified athletic trainer and physical therapy assistant, while also holding certification from the Titleist Performance Institute. She is also a Level 1 Functional Movement Screen and Spinning Instructor.

Brock, who was a track athlete in Heidelberg, is an accomplished weightlifter and a certified Olympic lifting instructor and personal trainer who helps train local athletes. He also trains older clients in the gym.

“I’ve had people here for almost 20 years now,” Brock said. “I have six to eight people who are 15 years old. These are the people I see every week. It’s not work. I love it. I like to balance sports and hobbies, and build those relationships .”

Schimmel said they all work with patients for pre- and post-rehabilitation following surgeries, such as joint replacements.

“That’s the thing a lot of people don’t realize about joint replacement. It’s just as important to get that joint in as good shape as possible before you go in because once you go out you’re going to lose something. thing. If you lose everything, it will be really difficult,” Schimmel said.

The three have worked together for 20 years. Experience along the way has been key in finding programs that work.

“I know the mistakes I made wearing down my joints and the same with Karen and Jason – we didn’t come that late,” Schimmel said. “That’s what we’ve always done. We’ve worked with so many generations of people. We have a group of 12-year-olds who come with Jason.

“We have people in the 90s coming in, a band in the 80s,” Schimmel added. “It’s about being able to make your body work as well as you can make it work, whether it’s on the football pitch getting in and out of a chair. We all want to stay independent as we I see it a lot more on the back end where people’s quality of life can be so much better if you don’t have to ask for help When you start doing that your quality of life starts to go down lower a little.

Their membership never exceeds 100, something Schimmel said is by design. Unlike most national chains, its personalized training and individual guidance are the bread and butter that keep the company profitable.

Coupled with the fact that the gym is rarely crowded, Schimmel has found a niche that remains effective. It’s about building relationships and knowing what motivates people, he said. This is where the 1v1 formation works its magic.

The company’s journey has not been smooth. Gyms were among those that suffered the most from state-mandated closures during the early stages of COVID-19 in 2020. While some businesses were allowed to reopen, gyms were among the last to get the l authorization – 10 weeks after the original closing date.

Like many businesses, it used federal PPPs and disaster loans to stay afloat. It was only part of the battle, however. With many of his clients being elderly and considered at high risk for major complications from COVID, many have opted to stay home until vaccines are available. The strict mask mandates he has backed have driven some customers away.

The Masonic Temple fire was another hurdle that threw a curve ball at him, although he admits his business escaped a much worse outcome than those who lost everything in the Temple.

Schimmel called it “a tough few years”.

“Fifty percent of your new business comes in January and (the fire) was in January,” Schimmel said. “We were closed most of January. It’s been almost four weeks since they cleaned things up. It was almost worse than COVID, because at least you got some (federal) help from the COVID side. But compared to what these people we were lucky that the wind was not blowing in that direction.They said that if there was no snow on the roofs many buildings downtown would have burned down.

Despite the struggles, Schimmel has no intention of doing anything else.

“I don’t see any reason to quit,” Schimmel said. “It’s not that hard to come here, hang out with my friends, talk to them and give them advice. I just encourage them along the way.”

[email protected]; Twitter: @SamBlackburnTR