We think small, talk small, hear small, eat, sleep and breathe small. Because when you’re trying to connect with a small business, you must understand everything about those who run them.

You Can Teach an Old Gym New Tricks

For nearly 40 years, Gainesville Health & Fitness has kept itself small and extremely successful, all while staying relevant.

Fitness centers seem like an easy business to run—buy the equipment and get people to sign up for memberships, then let the money roll in. But some owners tend to forget about the times: they change, frequently, and customers will move on to keep it interesting. Ever try to do a workout video from 1978? Exactly.

Gainesville Health & Fitness opened in 1978 with a nimble mindset, thanks to CEO Joe Cirulli. And last year, the gym made its way to the No. 2 spot on Forbes’ Best Small Companies in America list.

Cirulli credits his success to trying new things and ultimately welcoming failure. Some things stick, and some things don’t. The things that do stick, however, are what has kept the fitness center in a constant state of feeling “new”, keeping it away from becoming like the tired gyms of old.

While many big gym chains have tried to buy the center (and even employ Cirulli himself), he’s turned them all down. And perhaps his reasoning for doing so is the center of his success—it’s just not good for his community or his customers.