Schimmel Fitness celebrating 25 years — with no plans of slowing down – Zanesville Times Recorder

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 started his path into personal training while attending graduate school at Miami University in 1990, where he worked part time at Bally’s in Cincinnati. It was there he customized individual fitness programs for more than 1,000 people, from children to the elderly.
He eventually earned his master’s degree and returned to Zanesville, where he opened his own gym, Schimmel Fitness, in 1997. Almost 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 not short on fitness facilities. It specializes in the same thing that Schimmel did back in his younger days — tailor workouts for clients with fellow personal trainers Jason Brock and Karen Hoppstock Svab.
Schimmel purchased the former Henneberg Furniture building across from the former Masonic Temple. Over time, he transformed it into a multifaceted fitness center, one whose humble beginnings started with a treadmill and few weights.
Now it offers anything from free weights and traditional workout machines to spinning, massages and a golf practice facility. Locker rooms are spacious and geared to professionals who might need to hang up a suit while slipping in an afternoon workout.
The trio of trainers bring their own niche.
Schimmel, with a master’s degree in sports performance and behavior, focuses on the mental aspects of training. He began working with golfers, then trained the Ohio State women’s soccer team.
“Exercise is a behavioral change,” Schimmel said. “It’s no different than quitting smoking, or stopping drinking or anything else. It’s not about stopping, 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 spinning instructor and Level 1 Functional Movement Screen.
Brock, who was a track athletes at Heidelberg, is an accomplished powerlifter and certified Olympic lift instructor and personal trainer who helps train local athletes. He also trains older clients in the gym.
“I’ve got people in here that I’ve had for almost 20 years now,” Brock said. “I’ve got like six to eight people who are 15 years in. Those are the people I see every week. This is not work. I love it. I love balancing sports and hobbies, and building these relationships.”
Schimmel said they all work with patients for pre- and post-rehabilitation from surgeries, such as joint replacements.
“That’s the thing a lot of people don’t realize about joint replacement. It’s equally important to get that joint in as good of shape as you can before you go in, because once you go out, you’re going to lose something. If you lose everything it’s really going to be tough,” Schimmel said.
The three have worked together for 20 years. The experience along the way has been critical in finding programs that work.
“I know the mistakes I’ve made with wearing out my joints and the same with Karen and Jason — we didn’t come to this late,” Schimmel said. “This is what we have always done. We’ve worked with so many generations of people. We’ve got a group of 12-year-olds that come in with Jason.
“We’ve got people in their 90s that come in, a bunch in their 80s,” Schimmel added. “It’s about being able to get your body to perform as well as you can get it to perform, whether it’s out on the soccer field getting in and out of a chair. We all want to keep independent as we age. 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 slide a little bit.”
Their membership never exceeds 100, something Schimmel said is by design. Unlike most national chains, its personalized training and individual focus is the bread and butter that keeps the business profitable.
Coupled with the fact that the gym is rarely crowded, and Schimmel has found a niche that remains effective. It’s all about building the relationships and knowing what makes people tick, he said. That’s where the 1-on-1 training works its magic.
The business’ journey hasn’t come without bumps in the road. Gyms were among those that suffered the most from the state-mandated shutdowns during the early stages of COVID-19 in 2020. While some business were allowed to re-open, gyms were among the last to get clearance — 10 weeks after the original date of closure.
Like many businesses, he used federal PPP and disaster loans to help stay afloat. That was only part of the battle, however. With many of his clients being elderly and considered high risk of major complications from COVID, many elected to stay home until vaccines were available. Strict mask mandates that he supported drove some customers away.
The Masonic Temple catching fire was another obstacle that threw him a curveball, though he admits his business escaped a far worse outcome than those who lost everything in the Temple.
Schimmel called it “a rough couple of 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 was almost four weeks by the time they got things cleaned up. That was almost worst than COVID, because at least you got some (federal) help from the COVID side. But compared to what those folks went through — we’re just lucky the wind wasn’t blowing this way. They said if there wasn’t snow on the roofs that a lot of buildings in downtown would have burned down.”
Despite the struggles, Schimmel has no plans of doing anything else.
“I don’t see any reason to ever quit,” Schimmel said. “It’s not that hard to come down here, and hang out with my friends and talk to them, and give advice. I just encourage them along the way.”; Twitter: @SamBlackburnTR


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