In his 20-plus years working in the fitness industry, Steve Pirt rapidly ascended from a personal trainer to upper level management.
He and his teams’ success hinged on an ability to build relationships, listen to fitness professionals about the problems they faced and work to provide efficient and effective solutions, he said. Along the way, he realized that one of his longtime desires – to be his own boss – was something most fitness professionals also wanted, and he believed his years of experience could be used to refine a concept that would make it possible for more of them.
After seven years of planning, FlexWerk opened in early April at 885 Monon Green Blvd., Suite 120, in Carmel City Center. It contains several private spaces with premium fitness equipment and integrated technology that fitness professionals can reserve hourly to train clients or create fitness content that can be streamed to viewers online.
“In one day, you could go from employee to your own branded entrepreneurial business, and you’re going to pay for it as you go, like an Uber ride, instead of a long-term lease or contract or rent,” Pirt said. “We’ve created this massive migration opportunity for millions of professionals around the world to take that step.”
While the FlexWerk headquarters in Carmel doesn’t have room for that many clients, Pirt isn’t exaggerating his goals. He built the concept to grow and had already signed a franchise agreement before the first location debuted, and he is in the early stages of opening the brand’s second location in downtown Indianapolis. In addition, his primary investor in the company lives in Japan and has secured the rights to build the brand there. Others have expressed interest in bringing FlexWerk to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Australia, Pirt said.
As FlexWerk expands, all locations will include several concepts – identified and refined by Pirt over decades working in the fitness industry – that make the brand unique. It all begins when clients walk in the door, entering a sleek but simple lobby where they are greeted by an undistracted employee.
“(We) use technology operations designed to minimize the menial tasks to improve the ability for humans to do what humans do best, which is engage,” Pirt said.
Guests use their smartphones to reserve a space at FlexWerk, unlock doors at the facility and connect to a TV that can stream music or videos during the workout. The lighting in each space can be customized to create the perfect atmosphere for individual clients. The technology ecosystem was brought to life by The Premier Group, a firm located less than a mile north of FlexWerk that Pirt discovered during a nationwide search.
The spaces at FlexWerk contain lifting racks and modular systems custom built by an Italian company Pirt discovered while consulting on the design and construction of gyms in Israel. Even the floor is a “first of its kind innovation,” Pirt said, describing it as a seamless lifting platform that will safely absorb the impact of heavy weights dropped on its surface.
Pat Charette, owner of Elite Fitness Systems, had been primarily working with clients in their homes, often spending a good part of his day in his vehicle traveling between appointments. He now schedules approximately 20 sessions a week at FlexWerk, a space that he said still provides privacy for his clients but offers an upgrade with premium equipment.
“I’ve been locked into my car, and it’s been harder to network traveling from house to house, town to town,” said Charette, a Westfield resident. “FlexWerk gives me more networking opportunities, and if you’re looking for a wow factor, I saw an easier sale at FlexWerk.”
Hourly rates at FlexWerk start at $16 to reserve space. The facility is open to the public, not just fitness professionals and their clients, and Pirt said the cost can be split between two to four people using a space at the same time. FlexWerk is openfrom 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday to Friday and 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Learn more at FlexWerkFitness.com.
A local ‘phenomenon’
Althought FlexWerk founder Steve Pirt expects the brand to branch out globally, he plans to keep its headquarters – and his family – in Carmel. He and his wife, Janis, who co-owns FlexWerk, are native Californians, but they knew they wanted to launch the brand elsewhere.
A needs analysis narrowed their future home to two cities: Carmel or Southlake, Texas. After visiting both locales, the Pirt family decided to relocate to the Carmel area, purchasing a home “sight unseen” in a city where they didn’t know anyone. They haven’t looked back.
“I want to – from Carmel, Indiana – grow this thing to a phenomenon. I want to be able to provide the tools and the resources for fitness professionals to be their own boss,” Pirt said.