Massey and Berry plan to create a chain of gyms

Photo by Greg Eans, Messenger-Inquirer.com | geans@messenger-inquirer.com Chris Massey and Jennifer Berry stand above the fitness floor Tuesday at Iron Jungle Family Fitness in Owensboro.

When Chris Massey and Jennifer Berry -- partners in business and in life -- opened Iron Jungle Family Fitness at 105 Carlton Drive in June 2018, they expected business to be good.

But not quite this good.

"We've done very well," Massey said recently. "It's exceeded all of our projections and expectations. It took off immediately. We were profitable by the second month."

He said, "We've put $140,000 back into the business in capital improvements and paid cash for it."

Today, Iron Jungle has more than 4,000 members and between 500 and 700 of them show up on any given day, Massey said.

They come from Owensboro, Henderson, Evansville, Bowling Green and even a couple from the Kentucky Lake area who are in Owensboro during the week.

Spring is the peak season, Massey said, and the parking lot on J.R. Miller Boulevard was overflowing on some days last spring.

"We're looking at expanding parking," he said.

Growth has come so fast, Berry said, that "we had to remove offices to add a changing room."

They're also planning a second location in "a nearby city" that will open in 2020.

And that's just the beginning.

"We want to be the Walmart of fitness," Massey said. "We're planning to become a regional chain within 10 years and see what happens. This is a pilot project for us."

He said, "We've had people in other cities reach out to us and want to partner with us. A facility like this costs about $5 million including equipment. We offer a lot more than other places."

Iron Jungle is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Massey said they offer "steam rooms, showers, nice new changing rooms, a supplement store at rock-bottom prices, on-site Fuel nutrition Meal Prep, free child care, a state-of-the-art cardio mezzanine with more variety of cardio than most other facilities, a walking track, a full-size basketball court, a large array of fitness equipment that will be hard to challenge in variety and quantity."

And, he said, there's "a fully stocked private women-only area, a minimum of 25 classes per month in group fitness including kids' classes for free, a high-intensity training room, free tanning, high security with cameras everywhere, two free personal training sessions per member and certified personal trainers."

Massey said Iron Jungle has more than 40 corporate partners whose employees get membership discounts.

"We both have executive jobs other places," he said of himself and Berry. "We travel a lot and we check out our competitors across the country."

Massey and Berry were ready to build a 12,000-square-foot gym at Salem Drive and J.R. Miller Boulevard in February of last year when they heard that The Next Level, an indoor sports facility at 105 Carlton Drive, was on the market.

They snatched the 32,000-square-foot facility up and hurried to get it ready for a June opening.

The location is perfect, Massey said.

"Owensboro wraps around us," he said. "We're easy to get to. But a gym is a destination. People will find you."

Massey said, "There are people in here at all hours. It's crazy. We're very big on families and group fitness."

The couple's success with Iron Jungle, he said, can be attributed to the fact that "we worked our butts off."

For more information, go to www.ironjungle24hrfitness.com/

Keith Lawrence, 270-691-7301, klawrence@messenger-inquirer.com

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