By day, Michael "Mike" Ross is the director of operations for several restaurants in metro Atlanta. His wife, Cheryl Ross, is an attorney specializing in worker's compensation law.
But, the married couple of 26 years had other dreams outside of those gigs. They wanted to go into business together -- the health business. The pair have been big on fitness since they met in their early 20s.
Now, the Rosses have opened a Snap Fitness franchise in Lilburn, an area they have lived in for 20 years. They also have dreams of expanding it, and one day creating an entire shopping center dedicated to fitness.
Patch stopped in to talk to the Rosses about opening their business in Lilburn and the importance of fitness.
Patch: Why open a fitness facility here in Lilburn?
Michael Ross: "We actually made the decision to open up the fitness center for two years actually. I had specifically been looking in this area, and there was an old Hibbett Sports location at the corner of this strip mall. And, I'd been looking in that window for about two years and visualizing having my own fitness center right here at that location specifically.
"Through that process, I started researching some of the different franchise concepts and Snap seemed to be the right concept, and the right fit for us, so we decided to take the plunge and become business owners, so here we are. We opened up our Snap Fitness right here in Lilburn, in our community, and we're glad we did."
Patch: Why do you support the Snap Fitness concept, as opposed to other fitness facilities?
Cheryl Ross: "We are kind of used to community-type gyms where you go in and at least people acknowledge you, and it's kind of a smaller environment where most of the community attends. But, once our gym closed down on Lawrenceville Highway -- the Golds Gym -- then the only choice was LA Fitness, and it was just so big, so impersonal, and you know, they just swipe your card, never look up at you, never say hi, and the equipment was kind of disjointed as to where it was. There was no natural flow to things, so that was one of the bigger reasons."
Michael Ross: "You go to a place for years, three - four days a week, and no one even says, 'Hi, Mike. How you doing? How's it going?' No one looks up. You think someone might say, somebody might say say something to you, but it was just so impersonal.
"We felt there was an opportunity. We wanted to feel like you're a part of our community, and have members who felt that way, too, and felt a connection, so that was the big reason. It actually motivated us to say, 'You know what? We're going to do our own thing.'"
Patch: Why is fitness important?
M. Ross: "For me, it's helped to really kind of shape my life in many ways, bringing balance and focus. It's helped me to set goals. And, you know, the obvious benefits of health and wellness -- I mean, never sick. I'll be 50 years old in December, and you know what, I feel like I'm in the best shape of my life, and I've got a lot of 20-year-olds I feel like I could run circles around as a result of having a lifestyle of wellness.
"And, I think Cheryl and I believe in it so strongly that we want to share our passion with the greater community. We feel that there's an opportunity when you hear all the statistics about our country and obesity and diabetes and hypertension, and all those ailments, you know they can all be so easily cured with an ounce of prevention. That ounce of prevention is just a lifestyle of wellness and some exercise. You don't have to be a fanatic about it, but it is important that we do something that connect in all those areas, so we can live a more healthy, vibrant life."
Patch: Why this community?
M. Ross: We've always appreciated the diversity of the neighborhood and really, the sense of community. For a long time, I was a neighborhood association president. There was always just the sense that your neighbors, they look out for each other. And, I think that kind of keeps us connected and rooted here, too. We never had a desire to live anywhere else."
About the Lilburn Snap Fitness:
It is now open to the public and will host members of the community Aug. 17 for a special meet-and-greet evening. (Contact the store for more information.) It officially opened on Aug. 1, and has been in an introductory phase until now. The address is 375 Rockbridge Road, Suite 148, inside the Lilburn Corners shopping plaza one store down from the Publix anchor.
The facility is a 24-hour location with security, including cameras, locked doors that open to gym members only, and panic alerts for those times when gym is not staffed. However, the Lilburn location is staffed well into the evening many nights. Don't want to work out alone? The gym has several personal trainers, as well, who are ready to help members move toward their goals.
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