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Meet Neil Tews of ARC Performance in Northwest Suburbs

Today we’d like to introduce you to Neil Tews.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
Shortly after getting married, I quit my job in the pharmaceutical industry to pursue my dream of opening my own gym. I jumped into the health and fitness industry wherever I could to gain the experience I needed to run my own training facility. I spent about 2 years gaining experience and growing a network of people and companies that would help me achieve this. With the love and support of my wife, family and friends we opened ARC Performance in the spring of 2011. I had a few trainers opening with me that provided a lot of the excitement in the beginning. Aaron Reed, who runs his own personal training business called ASAP Fitness out of ARC Performance, is still on board with us as our head trainer and “unofficial business partner”. He brought a lot of direction in the beginning that still works for us today. He’s one of the hardest working people I know, the best trainer I’ve ever worked with, and one of the few people that understand the ups and downs of running your own business. I partnered with a company specific to my industry about 2 years ago that helped me with my sales, marketing, and management. It changed the way we did business and put into place a lot of systems that we needed to be successful long-term. It was a difficult transition, but a necessary one. At the same time we went from our biggest year to one of our lowest years because we lost most of our trainers for various reasons in a very short period of time. It’s all part of the ups and downs of owning your own small business. In light of the peaks and valleys, I also believe that owning my own small business has been the greatest ministry opportunity of my life. I’ve been able to help people beyond their physical goals and needs and help them in their priorities and purpose in life, find jobs, work through difficulties and hardships, listen to them when no one else was willing to, provide an encouraging environment where people feel like they belong, and even help guide them into a deeper relationship with God. It has sharpened me as a person and has prepared me for greater things in life. The excitement is in waiting for what lies ahead!

Has it been a smooth road?
No, it hasn’t been a smooth road. We invested 6 figures of our own money and barrowed some from both of our parents and have yet to pay anyone back. I took a small salary when the business peeked for a year and then had to reinvest all of it the next year when the majority of my trainers left. Don’t get me wrong, the business is incorporated and we take advantage of our business expenses we would otherwise have to pay for ourselves. So we’re grateful for that and we anticipate the business will grow to the point in which everyone is making the money they are hoping to make, to either provide a little extra income for the trainer or to provide a fulltime income for their families. With the major changes we made a couple years ago, it positioned us to better predict everyone’s cash flow, allowed us to set goals more wisely, and it increased our value at the gym, which helped to justify our price adjustments and packages that we now offer.

After a year or so, we had the opportunity to move our business location just down the road and have my neighbors pay for most of it, $100k+. The month we made the move I remember looking at the bank account and seeing less than $1k in there! We slowly grew into our best years, but after the time the majority of trainers left we dipped down pretty low and overdrew and had to reinvest 1 last time with the help of my parents. We’re at the point of do or die, but I’m not worries about it. I’ve seen the ups and downs enough time to see that we’re on an uptrend and we’ll be in a great position come the end of the year. “With God, all things are possible” is written above my desk in the office and it reminds me that God is truly in control, nothing is impossible with Him, and when I trust Him with everything it brings me peace of mind and soul.

There were a few trainers that I thought were a good fit, but turned out to be quite a headache. Fortunately, that has only happened a few times in the last 6 years. I’ve become a better judge of character from it!

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the ARC Performance story. Tell us more about the business.
ARC Performance stands for Athletic and Recreation Center for Performance. We’ve always had this idea that we would work with athletes and adults to enhance their performance and fitness. We stay focused on getting results through our comprehensive services and innovative programs lead by our experienced team of trainers in a supportive community. We’ve had the privilege to work with Professional Athletes in the NFL, Division I, II, III Athletes in College, and aspiring athletes in high school and junior high. We also have the privilege to work with adults who want to work hard, set goals, and improve their health and fitness. That might look different for each person and so we don’t specialize in just one or two things, but pride ourselves in the diversity of who we can work with. I personally enjoy working with the adult population trying to get into shape for their first Obstacle Course Race or get back to when they used to be flexible and strong. We have amazing trainers that are really great at what they do. 2 of them specialize in working with athletes of all kinds. We have a powerlifting coach that is competing at the national level while training state record holders. We also have a couple trainers that are truly focused on mastering their craft and getting the best educational experience in their fields of nutrition, postural restoration, corrective exercises, etc. Our clients would say that they love the small community atmosphere, personal attention, and fantastic results!

How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
One shift I see in the industry is the use of apps and technology to test, measure, track, motivate, communicate, etc. This includes a range of tools for the clients and trainers to use with a high level of frequency. I’m sure Fitbit and other Smart Watches will continue to improve and expand their capabilities. Apps for the phone have become increasingly popular, tracking heartrate, steps, activity, intensity, etc. The user becomes more motived by the numbers and the trainers can increase the value of what they do by bringing the best and most relevant tools to the table to assist in their training. On-Line Training is growing too, bringing people all across the world right to your computer to work with. Supplementation has always been huge, but I see a growing trend with probiotics, enzymes, rapid weight loss (which has always been around) etc. We’ve partnered with The Juice Plus Company when it comes to what we recommend for a whole food supplement (a reduction of actual food rather than an extraction or creation of something particular – that’s what a multi-vitamin is). It is one of the best decisions a person can make to improved their nutritional intake and overall health (you’re getting the nutritional benefits of over 30 fruits, vegetables and berries on a daily basis). This company does an amazing job at getting customers into a community of like-minded people on similar health journeys, creating an environment of accountably, support, and education. This is a big tread I see growing with other companies as well. CrossFit will continue in business I’m sure. Yoga seems to be growing in popularity, especially with the franchises popping up. Obstacle Course Racing still seems to be on the rise, Spartan leading the way. More and more athletes and parents are realizing the value in optimizing the athlete’s sport through strength and conditioning and sports specific training. Injury prevention and developing proper movements are major contributors to the value of training at any level at any age. One final trend I’ve seen arising is personal trainers being hired by schools and teams as their strength and conditioning coach. Some have the personal trainer hired as a full time position while others are used as sub-contractors. In either case, the demand for excellence in sports continues to increase.


  • Private Training starts at $299/month and includes Unlimited Group Training/Classes, an Open Gym Membership and Nutrition Coaching
  • Semi-Private Training starts at $199/month and includes Unlimited Group Training/Classes, Open Gym Membership and Nutrition Coaching
  • Group Training/Classes start at $119/month and includes Open Gym Membership and Nutrition Coaching
  • Open Gym Membership is $49/month
  • 1 Week Trial for $1 includes 2 Comprehensive Private Training Sessions, Unlimited Group Training/Classes, Open Gym Membership

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Jolie Images

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