Last week, I had the incredible opportunity to sit down with Loray Athletic Club's, Jonathan Logan, to talk about all things fitness, business and, of course, Gaston. Logan is a prominent member within our Gaston County community. He is an entrepreneur and a business owner, a husband and father, who is currently raising his own family in Belmont. Logan's mission, much like ours at Love Gaston, and countless other hard working individuals, is the continued growth and revitalization of Gastonia and this was a large proponent of his decision to open Loray Athletic Club.
I first discovered Loray Athletic Club about a year ago while I was living in Gastonia. I was captivated by the innovation, excitement and energy I felt the moment I walked through the door. More so, I loved the preservation of history that very clearly told a story of a past combined with present. The facility was top notch, but it had so much character that I had never seen a gym utilize before. It was truly beautiful. Naturally, my captivation with both the mill and his facility led my first question to Logan to be, how his business came to call home within the walls of the historic Loray Mill.
"My interest in Loray was in helping revitalize West Gastonia. I am a Gaston County product, I grew up in Belmont. We want to be a shining light in West Gastonia. The facility itself, the mill is beautiful, but no one knows that it is here. When people think of West Gastonia, myself included, I remember what it was, I remember being a kid and going to Sears, that's the building they are tearing down now to make room for the FUSE District. Belmont is booming, you know that you're in real estate, but Belmont never saw the same down turn as other areas like, Mount Holly, McAdenville, Cramerton, Gastonia. Gastonia, I believe, was hit the hardest. When you think about the original Loray community, they had almost 4,000 employees and those 4,000 employees lived in the neighborhood, supplied the kids for the schools and supplied the business and economic development for the businesses in the neighborhood. So, when you take away everyone's income, not just the mill doesn't succeed, but everything around it doesn't. You see these old buildings and you want to save them if you can, but you also want to be, or you'd like to be, a catalyst for other businesses to come, to revitalize everything, not just the community but the economic situation in West Gastonia. I just saw a lot of opportunity here. It gave me as much space as I wanted and I even have space to grow into about another 5,000 square feet. The thought was to build a team and give some people some jobs, obviously, but more importantly, just to be an anchor to a building and a project that will revitalize the entire area. As you know, it has been very attractive to other businesses so I think it is doing that."
My favorite answer to any question I asked all morning, "So, how long did you think over it before deciding to transform Live Fit of Belmont to Loray Athletic Club in Gastonia?"
"Oh, probably a long time... Six minutes? I'm either in or out, there's no time to second guess yourself. I knew it would be a great opportunity for someone so once I figured out the logistics of it and talked to my wife, I jumped on it pretty quickly."
Personally, I knew that the gym offered an array of services, but I had no idea exactly how much Loray Athletic Club had to offer. They have designed a business which caters to every type of athlete: whether you enjoy the peace and tranquility of a yoga studio, prefer the one on one relationship of a personal trainer or even if you look for the competition and comradery of group fitness classes, they have what you are looking for. The club has top of the line barbells and bumper plates and the high quality squat racks not only make it ideal for the crossfitters and powerlifters, but anyone wanting to get a couple sets in. They even offer meal prepping for those of us who would like to eat more healthy, but always seem to run out of time in the kitchen. When I asked Logan what the mission of the gym was, I loved his response.
"For the gym, we ultimately want to create an environment that breeds success. Our thought is, if you can walk through the door then we can help you achieve your goal. Everyone has a fitness goal whether they know it or not. For some folks, it's being healthy enough to have a baby, it's being healthy enough to sustain a household and have a family, not getting on medication, getting off medication, taking yourself from high school getting ready for college, taking yourself from college to the professional level. Everyone has a fitness goal and need and we just want to help facilitate that. We have everything, general membership, sports specific training, personal training, small group personal training, yoga, group classes, boot camps, sport prep, fire, military prep. We have 40 pro athletes, MLB, NFL, UFC Fighter, a little bit of everything. Our athletes come from all over, our farthest athlete has come from Uruguay. "
I brought my brother along with me, who one day dreams of personal training and owning his own gym to listen to what Logan had to say about owning and operating a successful gym. It was incredibly inspiring listening to the what motivates Jonathan everyday since he began his journey with Live Fit of Belmont and now his new journey with Loray Athletic Club of Gastonia.
" This is just my opinion, but I believe we are all put on this earth to help one another, everyone. My passion has given me the vehicle of helping others, so the way I help people is when they come through this door, I help them. If you have a passion for it, it is worth investing, at least the time to figure out if it is something you want to do. Ideally, you want to find something you look forward to doing everyday. You just asked me how long it took me to make a decision, 6 minutes, to close a successful business and start over. I knew I couldn't live with myself if I didn't do it, I like challenge. If you have an interest in helping people that's the first thing. Even though, it is a different platform entirely, you are helping people find out about Gaston County and in turn, you are helping local businesses, as well. That's what we are all here to do. We're all just here to help one another. If you can find something that you are passionate about, that you pour yourself into, the money will follow. Passion doesn't follow money, money follows passion."
It was a phenomenal experience getting to sit down with Jonathan Logan to learn more about Loray Athletic Club, their facility, their involvement with Loray Mill, their mission for their business, his philosophy on starting a business and on building your brand. He is truly an inspiration and it was so very exciting getting to meet local business owners who bring such tenacity, humility, energy and a deep love of Gaston into their everyday business. Lastly, if you wonder why there are no photos of the mastermind behind Loray Athletic Club, it's because when I asked Jonathan for a picture of him with his gym, he said, "No, no, I like flying under the radar, the club is a lot bigger than just me." This statement surely sums up the business owner I met last Wednesday.