When mechanical engineer and Vanderbilt MBA graduate Ryan Stitt discovered that “sweating out the corporate workday in a cubicle” “didn’t fit his personality,” the West Coast native and five-year D.C. resident began ruminating on an alternate career path. The only things he knew for certain were a desire to work independently and hoping to “not end up living under a bridge.”
The 35-year-old entrepreneur-at-heart would wind up discerning an opportunity and a little more than two years ago set out to develop a unique business enterprise from personal observation of an unfulfilled need. It’s the type of idea that causes observers to slap their foreheads while exclaiming, “Why didn’t I think of that!”
Following a short stint between college and graduate school as a nuclear fuel engineer, Stitt had subsequently begun working post-degree in a marketing position in the airline industry and later as a strategic development and marketing executive for a major telecom business. He found little fulfillment in the jobs, eager for a new direction.
Stitt ruminated on “being the guy at house parties casually chatting with other guests about health, fitness and nutrition topics.” It was a natural avocation and potential professional discipline meriting closer examination. He decided to pursue certification as a fitness trainer, figuring he could train clients part-time while deciding on a longer-term undertaking. He would eventually work for more than a year as training and programming manager at a premier local fitness company, learning valuable lessons.
Stitt noticed that the fully equipped gym available for use at the apartment building where he lived at the time with his now partner of 11 years and husband of four years – marrying Steve Lang in D.C. shortly after local legalization – was often unused and without fitness training assistance.
Stitt realized this was common at area rental properties. Rather than simply utilize this tenant amenity to train personal clients, the observation sparked him to network his way to management personnel at prominent local housing developer JBG.
His proposition was simple – adding value to an existing resource standard at many new rental housing developments and encouraging building residents to make use of it.
By promoting resident utilization of a signature feature, Stitt’s KICK Fitness “offers a strong value proposition for both tenants and landlords.” Eliminating tenant anxiety regarding amenities not accessed and allowing building managers to coordinate external vendor-driven asset-utilization by appreciative tenants presents mutual three-way benefits.
Under exclusive arrangement at select JBG developed or managed residential buildings at three current locations in the District, Virginia and Maryland, Stitt and four employees are available for personal training by appointment on a fee-for-service basis, along with creating scheduled workshops and group classes based on community interest, including among non-tenants at some properties by special arrangement. KICK enlivens the well-appointed fitness facilities – resulting in a more conducive and energized environment for workouts and increasing usage. Stitt hopes to add additional new rental buildings once completed in coming months.
Stitt has additionally developed a companion business model designed to offer service at workplaces – representing a significant growth opportunity. Similar to apartments, many large office buildings feature on-site gyms available for tenant business employee use. Supporting popular corporate health and wellness programs, Stitt’s recently formed affiliate company LIFT Fitness Center offers the same personal training and auxiliary services provided to residential tenants. The first service property is the landmark One Franklin Square building at 13th and K streets, N.W., managed by international real estate firm Hines.
The early success of both endeavors bodes well for continued expansion. Stitt’s robust enthusiasm and able leadership portend muscular growth.