Amy Zimmerman is the owner of Vital Fitness on the corner of Prairie Road and Lowe’s Drive. Originally from Leesburg, Ohio in Highland County, Amy grew up on a farm and has a degree in Agriculture Communications from The Ohio State University where she developed a love for fitness. After college, Amy and a friend jumped into teaching group fitness classes in London, Ohio (without any prior experience) and they would pack the facility with 60+ people a night because nobody in town offered anything like that at the time.
Amy worked as the Communications Director for the largest livestock marketing co-op east of the Mississippi River for over a decade in addition to starting her own Agriculture PR firm with her college friend. At the same time, Amy continued to teach group fitness classes at different gyms around Columbus, where she lived at the time, and then out of her barn and the old YMCA when she moved to Wilmington. Even with no plan or finances to build her own gym then, Amy would envision how that might look and feel.
At that time, DHL and Airborne were big employers in Wilmington and one of Amy’s friends ran their fitness facility. The companies eventually sold the gym and leased the space to Amy’s friend who ran the business for about a year then decided she didn’t love it, and asked Amy if she wanted to buy it from her. Amy was a single mom of two children, but said yes and decided to make it work. She knew the location of the gym wasn’t going to be great because it was hard to find and DHL had already left the Airpark, so she bought the land where Vital Fitness is now with the intent to build.
Amy finished her original 9,000 sq/ft building in 2014 and quadrupled the 115 members she transferred over in about 3–4 months. The old gym was called ‘Built For Fitness’, and Amy knew she wanted a new name. After brainstorming a few ideas and praying about it, she decided on “Vital” while running on her treadmill and listening to Joel Olsteen talk about how “your health is vital”. Amy is a firm believer that fitness is way more than just the physicality of it, and that it encompasses everything—”when you exercise, it mentally makes you stronger across the board for life”, says Amy. “When you push yourself through a workout, even if it’s not the hardest workout in the world, you’re still making yourself get to the gym and following through—all which takes mental focus, consistency, and builds capacities for when harder things in life come, like break-ups, divorce, death, or loss of job.”
Amy got divorced in 2008 and remarried in 2015, so she was single mom through all of the building and financing of Vital Fitness. This posed many challenges for Amy, who had never done construction before, including getting her all male contractors to talk with her about decisions. During this hard time, Amy fondly remembers taking her son, who was 8-years-old, to one of her construction meetings where money was being discussed, and then when they got home her son pulled out $10 from his piggy bank and said, “here mommy, I want to help you pay for your building.” Then, within just 2-years in her new building, Amy had the great problem of having to build-out and expand.
When asked what keeps people from going to the gym, Amy said the biggest reason is self confidence—people feel like others are judging them. However, Amy says that a funny thing happens when people get in a room full of mirrors is that they focus on themselves, not those around them. Amy designed her facility so that those who are uncomfortable with a gym can walk straight in to a class or locker room without ever entering where the machines are. Amy also hears some people say they want to reach a certain fitness level before going to a gym, but she encourages everyone to just start where they are—she sees the most success from people who don’t go all-in for a time then stop, but from those who are consistent.
Vital has something for everyone, including cardio/strength machines, classes, and events. Membership is $43 a person and just $5 more to add a spouse. Get 1-month free through March 31, 2024 by mentioning “real change” when signing-up.