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Business Spotlight: Sharing Strength

Jackie Stiles starts another chapter with NexGen Fitness

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Jackie Stiles may be best known for her basketball skills she displayed at Missouri State University and later professionally in the WNBA, but nowadays, she’s a local business owner.

After her playing career ended due to numerous injuries, Stiles began coaching at Loyola Marymount University, MSU and University of Oklahoma. She stepped away from coaching in 2021 and a new door opened.

“I was kind of in this limbo spot,” Stiles recalls. “Do I just continue coaching? I sold three homes in two and a half years and was tired of moving. The way college athletics had changed, it just didn’t fit my ‘why’ anymore.”

After meeting Brian Andrews, who is a multiunit owner with the NexGen Fitness franchise, Stiles says she was drawn to the company’s boutique-style gym concept, focusing on one-on-one training. She felt that sharing her passion for fitness by opening a franchise in Springfield was a way to give back to a place that felt like a second home. Stiles is originally from Claflin, Kansas.

Still, the idea of starting a gym was daunting.

“I thought, ‘You know what? I’m just going to jump off the cliff and go for it,’” she says.

Stiles currently owns Missouri’s only NexGen Fitness, a Proper, Texas-based company founded in 2012.

Starting up
As Stiles entered into a franchise agreement with NexGen for $45,900 in 2021, there were challenges on the horizon. The COVID-19 pandemic was still in swing, and she had to find builders to adjust her space at the 27,000-square-foot suite in the Southern Hills Shopping Center. The renovations cost her $220,000, and equipment, all purchased new, was a $110,000 investment.

“It was a lot more than I ever dreamed, but it’s been worth every penny, just to impact one person’s life,” Stiles says.

For her new business venture, Stiles used proceeds from her one-day camps for kids, which are managed through her other business entity, 14-year-old J. Stiles Total Training LLC. The camps held in Missouri and Kansas provide training and motivational speaking for kids in second-12th grades. This past summer, Stiles conducted 35 camps.

Dealing with construction of the gym and trying to run her camps, as well as looking for the right manager, caused some delays in opening. Although her franchise was founded in 2021, the doors didn’t open until March 2022. Stiles declined to provide revenue for 2022.

NexGen’s manager, Chelsie Keller, brought business experience from co-owning a salon along with a passion for fitness.

“We met playing pickleball,” Keller says. “And we became really good friends. Fitness was always my passion throughout my life, and my biggest focus is building relationships with clients. Having that as the forefront of everything, all the other stuff just falls in line.”

Keller helps run the facility and steps up when Stiles is out of town running camps.

Stiles says part of the reason she chose NexGen was because of the independence and guidance offered as a franchisee.

“I like to have freedom and not be put in a box in regards to the workouts,” she says. “But it gives me structure, as far as the build out. I would have never taken this on if I didn’t have some structure. NexGen gave me the blueprint from everything to the paint colors to our operating systems.”

To work out at NexGen, clients purchase a training package. The gym has private suites, where clients can have the privacy of working out with a trainer to reach their goals. They can pick the music they want, and the workouts are set for their individual needs, Stiles says. The shared cardio area can be accessed at any time.

On the flexibility of workouts, Stiles uses what she calls the Yahtzee method. Clients roll a die, and the number that turns up determines their full-body workout session for the day. It might include two minutes of cardio, bar pullups, a ball slam or pushing a weight sled. Stiles says it keeps the workouts fun and different every time for clients, who are just as varied as the workouts.

“My youngest client is 11 years old, and my oldest is 88,” she says.

Pushing through
Kerri Cuff, the 62-year-old owner of Accounting Taxes & Management Services Inc., is one of Stiles’ clients. They had met previously through a mutual contact, and after Cuff experienced a stroke, she was looking for a trainer in March of this year.

“In rehab, physically, they still didn’t get me off my walker,” she says. “Jackie and Chelsie wanted to know what I wanted to achieve. I said, ‘I’d like to be able to walk without a walker. I don’t want a cane. I’d like to be like a normal person, like I was prior to my stroke.’”

Cuff signed up for a yearly $4,000 package at NexGen and she says now she’s up to 20 minutes working out on a StairMaster. She said using a trainer one-on-one was the best fit for her.

“I highly recommend to anybody as you get older (to) have a trainer because you won’t believe the little things that you can’t do anymore, like putting a bowl on the third shelf in your cabinet or when you can’t carry your Walmart bags in,” she says.

Workout sessions run for 50 minutes and are scheduled between 5 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. Monday-Saturday, Stiles says. The facility has training suites, for privacy during workouts, a sauna and a cardio room. The sessions cost $30-$80, depending on whether they’re private, small group or couples training, Stiles says.

Currently, she says she has 90 clients, but she expects it to grow. The gym has a retention rate since its opening of 92%.

Stiles says the biggest thing she’s learned between her basketball career and her latest business venture is to just go for it.

“You know, I made a thousand shots per day, but I learned that the only way to be good at it was to do it,” she says. “You make a mistake, you fix it, and you go on. So many people think you have to wait until that perfect time or until they think they are ready. You’re not going to be ready until you do it, and you’ll learn as you go.” 

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