Most gyms see around ten percent of their customers walk through the door on any given day. Ozark Iron Gym? Over sixty percent. And their retention rate is even higher.
When people come to Ozark Iron Gym, they stay. And if they don’t, it’s most likely because they’ve graduated and moved elsewhere.
So what is it about Ozark Iron Gym that keeps such a tight-knit community of sweat-ers coming back every day?
It likely has to do with the passionate enthusiasm and confident leadership of owner and trainer, Will Anthony. Originally from Central Arkansas, Will served in the United States Army for eight years before settling in Northwest Arkansas and eventually opening Ozark Iron Gym.
How did you get into fitness in general?
"I've always kind of been into it, but I got super serious about it in my early 20s, just from the Army to be honest. I always wanted to push myself to be stronger, better, faster.
I liked to see results and I liked helping soldiers to get results. Eventually, I realized, hey, I really enjoy this training thing. It's awesome to do this myself but even more rewarding to be able to help somebody else do it and change their physique or their attitude. It became something that I craved to do.
And I still love training more than anything. I train other people every day here simply because I enjoy it. And again, it goes back to me craving the results of being able to change somebody's life, both outwardly and inwardly."
At what point did you decide you wanted to open a gym?
"I did my undergrad at the University of Arkansas for Exercise Science. I wanted to do physical therapy really badly, but I didn't get into PT school. When that didn't happen, I decided to pursue personal training, which I’ve been doing now for the past seven or eight years. That's what eventually led me to open my own gym.
I think it’s the ultimate dream of anybody working in this industry, to have something like this to be your own someday. But for a while, I was really afraid. This was a huge leap and I didn’t have a lot of capital to start with. I knew it would be life changing, one way or the other.
I don't know exactly what it was, but I finally got to the point where I decided to stop being scared and just try it. I took the risk. I poured hours of work into finalizing my business plan and getting a loan. I had to go through four different banks before I was able to get a loan. Nobody thought this would work, which is crazy because we're doing really well for only being open a year and a half."
Your site says you offer "old school lifting with new training ideas." What Does that mean?
"The old school aspect of it is that we do things the way it used to be done when gyms first started. All we have here is free weight equipment. Even the machines that we have are free weight equipment, everything's plate weighted.
We also play non-traditional music. I say non-traditional, but it used to be traditional in a gym. But compared to other fitness centers now, our music is different. We don't play top of the charts or pop music or anything like that. We mostly play old school rock or some metal. Really, whatever the guys want to listen to.
We allow powerlifting, bodybuilding, strongman stuff in here. We have a stones and tires and a sledge. People make noise in here. It's fun, it's always a good time. We also have competitions and you don't see that much in any other place.
As far as new training ideas, my trainers and I are always learning. You can never know everything about the human body. There's always something new that I can learn or a new way that I can approach training.
Our trainers come from all different sports backgrounds. The cool thing about having a lot of different minds in the gym is that you can bounce ideas off of each other and learn from each other, and then you can transfer that to your clients with how you train."
What fuels your flame when you hit rough spots?
"Honestly, because I love this. Not only do I like training and helping others, but I myself train and I compete.
It’s not just something that I like to have ownership of. I'm a part of it myself. I'm working just as hard for myself to try to reach my own goals. For example, I'm actually competing this summer.
It fuels me to be in this environment every day and have other people around me motivating me. I'm so appreciative of it. Even on the bad days, I can remember that there's always somebody that's just going to be pushing me and who I can be helping out.
There’s always somebody watching, always. I learned that a long time ago."
What are some lessons or skills you picked up in the Army that you've been able to carry over?
"I would say leadership in general. Being confident in myself and my ability. And also being able to execute a plan without hesitating.
What's also really helped out is knowing and having confidence in your own product and what you're selling. The thing with a gym is, as the owner, you're selling the gym, but really you're selling yourself with the gym more than anything. You are the face of it.
So my time in the Army helped out a lot with that. I don't think that I'd be where I was today if I didn't have that background."
What has it meant to you to own a small business in Northwest Arkansas?
"It is an amazing feeling to actually follow through on something that I thought probably would have just continued to be a dream and never become a reality. I'm ecstatic about having it. I can't wait to see what I can bring to the community in the future with this gym because we're going to continue to grow and improve based on the wants and needs of all the people that are coming here."
Don't "weight" any longer: Will and his crew are ready to welcome you with loud music + open arms (+ special perks you'll find only on the Towny app).