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It’s Time to Hit the Gym With These Four Fitness Fanatics

WRITTEN BY: JAKE PALUMBO | PHOTOGRAPHED BY: TASO PAPADAKIS

I walked into House of Fitness during the quiet afternoon lull, and there was a prevailing calm over the room. Punching bags hung silently from their chains. The gunmetal exercise racks were overhung with various ropes and bands like idle ships yet to set sail, and the gentle hum of the industrial fans provided a persistent baseline under the reticent music. “Any gym’s primary hours of operation are going to be in the early morning and evening, ” Thomas Plejer tells me matter-of-factly from behind the polished wooden desk of his office. He speaks with a calm, calculated confidence of a businessman who has certainly done his homework. And you can be sure he has. A career entrepreneur since starting his first successful business in high school, Tom understands the importance of strategic preparation more than most.

Everything in the immaculate facility has the polished sheen of being fresh from the package. The sparkling state-of-the-art equipment seems to glow with the allure of a brand new toy. The three story high ceilings, inviting lighting and modern décor create a contemporary upscale atmosphere that seems luxurious without being pretentious. The gym is complete with a fleet of a dozen bikes for cycling classes, a vitamin bar, and a shop that sells everything from fitness apparel to bath and body products. House of Fitness is fully equipped to be your one stop shop for physical fitness. With a risk-free 30-day trial, you’ve got nothing to lose by checking it out. Well, maybe just some fat.

LA Gym Feature Finals_photographer Taso Papadakis007

Q: So how did you end up in the fitness business?

Thomas Plejer: When I had my licensing and product development company, I was working a lot, and I was finding that it was difficult for me to get back into the gym. The more research I was doing to find a place that appealed to me, the more I discovered a gap in the industry.

Q: What was the gap?

TP: I felt that there were lots of small clubs and lots of big clubs, but it was hard to find something in the middle. If you went to a small club, you missed out on what the big club had to offer. If you went to a big club, you missed out on some of that personal attention you get at a small club. There was a gap in between. Before I started the project here, I wanted to put the best team together possible to take this as a project. Our mission was pretty simple: to create something innovative, convenient, affordable and a non-intimidating, fresh atmosphere with the best training programs.

Q: How did you find your team?

TP: Well, I took the time. Most people who want to start a company jump right into it. I didn’t come from the fitness industry, so I put myself out there trying to meet the right individuals. I went to seminars across the country establishing relationships with certain people and learning about shifts and innovations in the industry. It took a long time to put my team together.

Q: How does your gym address the gaps you found in the industry?

TP: I take an easier approach towards it all. Everyone knows fitness is great for you, but not everyone wants to do it. We wanted to develop a place that wasn’t intimidating to walk into and create an atmosphere that you enjoy coming to and to have customer service that’s very pleasing. We developed a team of people to ensure client success as opposed to letting the client feel like they’re alone.

Q: How do you deal with someone who is coming in for the first time?

TP: We offer a 30-day trial so people can try us out before making any commitment. Every client starts off with a comprehensive evaluation with our program director. The program director is the highest qualified trainer we have who designs all of the programs for our members. They meet with him and have an hour appointment to discuss their background, diet and fitness goals. After the evaluation, the program director will put together the best program possible to help them reach their goals.

Q: So you guys help members with their diets as well?

TP: Absolutely. It’s a full-service package.

Q: Do you stick to a specific diet?

TP: No I keep it simple. I don’t over-complicate it, and I don’t believe in diets. I look at food as fuel for the body, so I just keep it clean, balanced and hydrated.

Q: How would you sum up your fitness philosophy?

TP: Humans need to move. It’s pretty easy, really. It’s just so important to stay active, and it all starts there. We show people how to move in the right way. We show people how to prevent injuries by teaching the correct form.

Q: Once you get someone into a good routine, what are the challenges of getting a person to stick to their program?

TP: The entire team works on that after they meet with the program director. Holding a client accountable takes a lot of work from the entire team. Our clients understand very early on that we hold them accountable. Without their accountability, the magic isn’t going to happen, so we have to get them in here. There are a lot of mental blocks people have. We do our best to educate and motivate them from a coaching level.

Q: What are some of the challenges that are different about running this business versus the businesses you’ve run in the past?

TP: Sticking to your core values and your mission is the most important thing. Putting the right team together having not come from a fitness background was a challenge. And I think that any customer service business is challenging. It’s an ongoing progress. It’s about getting better every week. It takes a lot of work to keep the entire team on the same page. We have to make sure we’re consistent with everything that we do here and spending a lot of time on the operation side of the business. A lot of great personal training centers face the drawback of the personal trainer being the owner. Having a great training program is just 20 percent of the equation.

Q: With all the competition out there, what distinguishes House of Fitness from other gyms?

TP: It all starts with creating a fresh atmosphere from the minute you walk into the club. Everyone is treated as an individual here. We cap the amount of members that we take, so the limited capacity lets us give our clients the attention they need and ensures quality over quantity.

Q: How do you keep yourself motivated when it’s your job to motivate others?

TP: I set up challenges and goals for myself in my personal and business life. I enjoy the challenge of putting together the best team possible to execute the project or objective that we have. Our team wakes up at 4am simply because they are truly passionate about helping people stay fit and feel good. I like challenging the team to be the best they can be and the team motivates me when they succeed. That’s where my motivation comes.

NUTRITION PROGRAM:

1. 12 personal weekly meetings with one of our nutrition coaches

2. Coaching on how to make small behavioral changes that will make a massive difference in your long-term results

3. A weekly weigh-in to keep you on track

4. Very simple eye- opening homework each week. Don’t worry – it’s not too much!

HOUSE OF FITNESS

4130 Sepulveda Blvd Culver City, CA 90230 | 310.773.9484 www.houseoffitnessla.com