by Ashley Flynn
As pants sizes shrink, the client list grows, and already, the Sweat Factory has outgrown its current location in the former Radio Shack on North Cass Street.
Having just opened in April 2013, business partners Shelly Ruch and Jill Vigar are pleased with the membership. Their space will double when they move down the road into the Shopper’s Mart on Cass Street on Oct. 15.
“We’ve been fortunate and blessed with a good membership so far. We outgrew that place and that’s nice,” Ruch told The Paper.
Ruch is certified with the American College of Sports Medicine, and has been in the group fitness business for 20 years.
“My education and certificated have all led me to this point. I worked at the YMCA taking care of group fitness as the coordinator, and before that, I worked at Kokomo Sports Center,” Ruch said.
After realizing her growth potential at the Y had come to a stop, Ruch decided to step out and build her own group exercise business.
“After my sickness (Ruch defeated breast cancer in 2010), I was thinking ‘where do I see myself in six months or a year.’ I decided I couldn’t stay at the Y anymore, but I thought I wasn’t done helping people yet,” she said.
Surviving cancer gave Ruch the push to start her own business, and it also gave her a new outlook on fitness and life.
“I wish I was the weight I was from before I got sick, but that priority went out the window when I got sick. I realize there are more important things like my marriage, my family and my friends. Now, fitness is to keep me healthy so if I do get cancer again, I can fight it hard like I did the first time,” Ruch said.
Ruch says her job is to motivate people, and she won’t take credit for the transformations people make.
“When people come to me and want to lose weight or feel better, then they’ve made the right step. I can’t take credit for that. I will give you the tools, the safety, and everything you need to do it, but I can’t pull you through that front door. I could post success stories, but it’s not my success to share,” she said.
Ruch and Vigar strive to make their studio a place where people feel comfortable.
“Our point is to make it so we can train the novice as well as the seasoned athlete – all levels of fitness,” Vigar told The Paper.
Ruch continued saying, “That’s important because that’s the hardest thing to do, walk through the door. It’s intimidating.”
Ruch says she helps people feel welcome by creating a family environment.
“People come in and say ‘it’s just nice. It’s like home. I feel safe here.’ And that’s what we want. We have a great group. When someone is having a bad day we just surround her and say ‘how can we help?’”
The Sweat Factory offers group exercise classes as well as personal training. There are five instructors; all are certified. Men, women, and people of all shapes and sizes are welcome.
“My mantra has always been everyone has the right to exercise no matter their wellness status,” said Ruch.
Ruch helps anyone who asks, even clients with extreme weight issues.
“I have a medical director, Dr. Jay Levine. Any questions I have, I go to him. Everyone signs a waiver, and men and women above a certain age or those who have 30 pounds of extra body weight (or more), then I require a medical release. It’s for their safety, in case they have an underlying condition they may not know about,” she said.
Ruch works on the fitness end of the business, and Vigar works more on the financial end. Ruch, who calls herself a ‘spazz’, said she would be lost without Vigar.
“If Jill weren’t here, I would be broke,” Ruch said.
The pair also receives a lot of support from Ruch’s husband, Russell.
“He never complains. He works all day doing construction and then comes here to help out,” Ruch said.
The group has been working approximately 30 extra hours a week preparing to move into the new location.
The Sweat Factory will be all moved in by Oct. 15. To find out about class schedules and information, check them out on Facebook by searching The Sweat Factory, call them at 260-377-8097, or stop by their current location at 1315 N. Cass Street.