February 28, 2014
By Mike Killeen
Ryan Wojciechowski knows what could be ahead for him when he graduates from Saint John's University in May.
He'll get a job and end up sitting in an office all day. He might not have enough time to exercise or eat healthy, and his physical fitness may suffer.
That's one reason why the senior management major from Flower Mound, Texas, started Johnnie Fitness, a new health-focused business run under the auspices of the Entrepreneur Scholars program at CSB and SJU. The business, which opened Feb. 12 for CSB and SJU students, faculty and staff, works with clients to create individualized training plans to help reach their health goals.
"I guarantee you I'm going to be sitting in an office in a year or two," Wojciechowski said. "For me, the reason why I've always been interested (in fitness) is that I feel better when I'm doing stuff. I just want to help those people that want to feel the same way.
"We want to provide as much education and learning as we can," Wojciechowski said. "It helps people in the short term - they're more confident and have better health in college. But in the long run, you start working and you have to sit in an office all day, you get unhealthy. So, we want to try and teach people so they know what to do beyond college."
Wojciechowski first pitched the idea of Johnnie Fitness in the fall of 2012 in the Social Entrepreneurship course taught by Terri Barreiro, director of the McNeely Entrepreneurship Center.
"Ryan developed a basic framework (in the class)," Barreiro said. "He has steadily worked on the concept all through his first two courses in the Entrepreneurship Program and is now able to bring this to our campus. "
The concept is remarkably simple. Potential clients can either drop by the Johnnie Fitness desk at Warner Palaestra (lower level, just off the Abbey Road entrance to the building) or by email (email@example.com). You will be booked for a free personal training session.
"You meet with them, and they'll show you what we do, explain the program a little bit, set some goals for you and create a profile," Wojciechowski said. "You then have a week to check things out and interact with us a little bit. After that week is up, you have to start paying."
Sessions cost $15 an hour for a personal trainer and $7 for a half-hour with a nutrition adviser. Clients are required to attend two sessions per month, but can also create their own package and determine how often they come in to work with a personal trainer or a nutrition adviser. All sessions are one-on-one, with workouts conducted in the Johnnies' Fitness Center or individual consultations in a private office near the rock climbing wall.
"They (the personal trainers) will create an individualized, customized plan to fit your goals," Wojciechowski said. "So, if your goal is to lose weight, your personal trainers will give you the exercises created for you. If you have a shoulder injury, they'll tweak your program or do whatever that needs to be done to fit your goals and needs."
Wojciechowski has hired SJU seniors Kyle Bauer and Justin Miller and CSB junior Megan Calder to serve as personal trainers; CSB senior Lisa Knapek, CSB junior Andrea Guajardo and SJU senior Tim Baebenroth to serve as nutrition advisers; and CSB senior Andrea Eberhard as the health adviser. The personal trainers have gone through a certification process similar to what instructors at a professional gym would undergo. In addition, SJU senior Alex Smisek serves as the chief financial officer. Students are paid from the fees generated.
"The minimum cost for a personal trainer at one of those gyms is $50 an hour, and that's for a very, very basic level," Wojciechowski said. "You're getting a much bigger package for a way smaller cost with our trainers."
Sessions will be held during the academic year. Johnnie Fitness will not be open in the summer or during the break between semesters.
"The path from an idea to a real launch is always full of twists and turns," Barreiro said. "Ryan faced that path with enthusiasm, persistence and creativity. His enthusiasm about this is contagious as evidenced by the number of people who are signing up already."