The story of Rage Fitness and Brandon Davis begins with one word: stress.
Davis owned and operated an auto collision shop in Nixa for a decade, and the pressure of working with insurance claims and pleasing nervous customers often sent him to the fitness gym down the street on his breaks.
“Running a body shop is really stressful,” Davis says of what operated as French-Davis Collision Inc. at the time. “I’d go work out at lunch and come back feeling better for the afternoon.”
The routine at Rage Fitness – and the connection with the guy running the gym, Sylas Shores – snowballed into a business venture between the two and Davis’ wife, Heather.
Davis says he bought the Nixa gym from Rob Moon in 2018 and two years later sold the body shop, which has since become Crash Champions.
In five years, the trio have added two Springfield locations – the latest opened a few months ago – and grown membership to roughly 3,000. The business model, they say, is to offer a wide variety of exercise equipment and free weights in a 24/7 environment for members with upgrade options, including personal trainers.
“We maxed out Nixa. Then we went to Springfield,” Shores says. “We needed to grow from there as well.”
The gyms have almost doubled in size with every new opening, going from 8,000 square feet in Nixa to 27,000 square feet in southwest Springfield, at 2404 W. Kingsley St. Declining to disclose the investment, Davis says he and Heather bought the property under D4 Holdings LLC after the IPA Educational Supply store closed last year.
In 2021, a Campbell Avenue location opened in two stories at the Camelot Shopping Center.
While the Davises are majority owners, Shores is given freedom to run the gyms as he best sees fit, Brandon Davis says, noting the gyms in Springfield were Shores’ vision. Shores has a 20-year history in the fitness industry.
“It’s something that I’ve done since I was 15 years old. I never went a week without working out,” Shores says.
He says it’s given him an inside track on what equipment to purchase – each gym is equipped with its own brand, Axom and Hammer Strength in Nixa and Arsenal Strength in central Springfield, for instance – as well as what the members need to know to properly use the machines.
“It’s very user friendly, beginner to advanced,” Shores says, noting some pieces have QR codes for workout demonstrations. “No corners cut on equipment.”
The machines are organized by muscle groups, so if a member is on a leg day, “You don’t have to walk all over the place,” Davis says.
On a recent Friday afternoon at the new gym, Dr. Dre and Eminem beats are pushed through the speakers while a member pulls a rope sled on one side of the gym and a group of college-age guys on the other end max out on an Atlantis weight machine. At the counter in the center of the gym, muscular staff members recommend cookie-flavored protein shakes.
The co-owners, who still train together almost every day, structured membership to give access to all three gyms.
The individual rate is $35 a month, while the VIP level with access to locker rooms, showers, a sauna and tanning is $50 per month, according to RageArmy.com. Family memberships and “hero” plans for military, law enforcement, teachers and health care workers also are available.
Personal trainers have access to the gym’s members for a flat rate of $350 per month. Shores says about 12 are on board.
“We allow them to build their own business inside of our business,” he says. “They set their own schedules. They can make as much or as little as they want to make.
“It is another source of income for the gym, but it’s really giving them an opportunity to launch their own business in the gym industry. And it makes it affordable for the members for training.”
Destiny Lines has been coaching at Rage Fitness for three years and built her business to about 30 of its members.
“The flat fee arrangement allows entrepreneurs like myself the ability to start a successful business while achieving the maximum results. You have the ability to grow and succeed – keeping the rates affordable for clients,” she says via email, noting her prices vary based on client budgets.
Shores says one of his goals in the business is to push people to become better.
“The best investment you can make is in yourself,” he says. “It doesn’t mean you have to be overly muscular, just some sort of fitness. If you’re consistent with that, it means you’re going to be consistent with other things in life.”
Davis says he and others have found community through working out – and that stress relief.
“At the collision shop, nobody wanted to see you there,” he says. “At the gym, everybody wants to be there.”
SBJ interviews the associate dean, vice chair and professor of the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Pharmacy at Missouri State University.