SWT Fitness, Sandra Vazquez
I founded a women's-only gym in a growing Maryland County where no such exercise facility existed.
I love being a Personal Trainer and saw the need for a place where women could work out without the pressure of the presence of men.
SWT Fitness, aka “Sistas Work Together,” is a fitness studio that exclusively caters to and enthusiastically promotes women’s fitness needs. SWT Fitness’s mission statement is to provide a fitness environment exclusively for women that is safe, clean, and inviting. In addition, SWT’s goal is to foster a welcoming, encouraging, and supportive atmosphere in a first-class exercise facility.
The low points have been learning how to assert my authority as a business owner to evaluate and, when necessary, dismiss employees who are not helping the team to succeed. The high has been the growth of a strong team attracting many women to participate in gym activities.
As my business maxed out in my home gym, a neighbor with her own business recommended I seek out SCORE for advice on how to “expand into a brick and mortar building.” My SCORE Mentor, Bob Whitcomb, was the perfect match because Bob previously owned a retail establishment and was also very good with numbers and spreadsheets--not my strong point. So, we started working together on the gym expansion plan in late September 2020. By early 2021, we had frequent Zoom meetings to refine my plan and pull numbers together for presentation to potential lenders. He also helped me examine several retail locations and their lease obligations in support of lender financial pro formas.
I knew I had a successful business concept because my female-only fitness gym was outgrowing my home’s basement. SCORE helped me develop the roadmap I needed to follow to secure funding to expand my gym into a prime retail location.
Bob was stupendous in always being available to speak to, especially at my lowest moments when funding seemed impossible. His financial knowledge was key. In fact, it was Bob who introduced me to M&T Bank, which became my primary lender. Bob was also instrumental in helping me find a secondary loan through Calvert County’s Economic Development Council.
Owning a business involves much more than just leading a class as a personal trainer. It requires continuous recruiting/marketing, paying attention to the financials, running a payroll, and paying monthly leases, loans, utility, and other recurring obligations. It has required a 24/7 commitment to thought and constant concern in a way much more than I anticipated.
With 15 years experience as Controller for a 25-person firm, and having started my own packing and...