After running Christi’s Fitness on Old Dixie Highway for more than 20 years, Steve and Christi Wade were feeling the weight of running such a large business.
As both empty nesters and entrepreneurs, it was time to see what God was doing in their lives. So they decided to take a step back, rejuvenate their minds and spirits and wait for the next adventure.
And it didn’t take long. The couple released their first book last January called “Together: How Husband & Wife Entrepreneurs Built a Winning Culture” which details how they built a health club business from the ground up. In the book, the Wades discuss how the positive culture in their business helped them thrive through life’s many challenges.
“When we first started to write down some of our experiences about what we learned through Christi’s Fitness, it was really about passing these memories along to our kids,” said Steve. “But then we realized we had some valuable nuggets about how to create a culture that really matters to people and we decided to write the book.”
Under their leadership, Christi’s Fitness expanded to become a multi-faceted fitness club, even offering swimming classes in addition to regular classes and workout activities.
“When we first went into business in 1997, we started out small with about 4,000-square feet,” said Steve. “And we grew Christi’s Fitness to 28,000-square-feet before we sold it. Along the way, we learned a lot and we thought the book would be a way to share this information with others.”
Right from the very beginning of their entrepreneurial journey, the couple knew the importance of honoring God through their business.
“Although Christi had been in the fitness industry for many years, we had no experience running a fitness club, but we always believed God had a hand in Christi’s Fitness,” said Steve. “It was His providence and wisdom that taught us so many lessons we needed to learn when we first started out.”
One of the first questions the couple asked themselves was how they could honor God as they ran their business? And they decided it was to treat people the way they wanted to be treated – with kindness, honor, and respect – and it turned out to be the winning formula.
“When we would go to other health clubs, we didn’t always like the way we were treated,” said Steve. “Sometimes, it seemed like it was more about membership sales and making money. At Christi’s, we found when you don’t focus on the money, people are more inclined to build a community together, and that’s what happened with us.”
But Christi and Steve are embarking on a new adventure they believe will encourage people in Vero Beach to become healthier – in both mind and body. They opened a boutique fitness club called SPENGA – short for Spin + Strength + Yoga in the Miracle Mile Shopping Center on 650 21st Street.
This fitness franchise combines 20 minutes of spinning with 20 minutes of strength training and 20 minutes of Yoga. The studio is set up in three areas that fit perfectly for each of these types of fitness activities.
With people isolated in their homes because of COVID-19 for so long, Steve and Christi are looking forward to engaging with their customers, new and old, on a regular basis.
“What we missed most after we sold Christi’s Fitness where all the friends we had made over the years,” said Christi. “What I am looking forward to most is a strong engagement with the community of Vero Beach and becoming part of it again.”