Small Business Spotlight: American Barbell
American Barbell isn’t just a gym. It’s a community and a passion for owner Nate Williams. It’s also an enormous place with a slick look and all the amenities necessary for physical fitness and selfcare. In fact, it’s a passion project and Nate’s own version of the American Dream.
The 19,000 square foot facility is far more than meets the eye – both from the road and from the front desk. Nate said that’s by design as he wants to provide plenty of room for anyone to work out and he wants it to be better than other area gyms so that it will also feel like an accessible, appealing place to spend time.
The Willard, Ohio native studied Criminology at The Ohio State University but fitness was his passion. He understands that gyms can be intimidating and wants his gym to be a place that makes both the beginner and the pro feel welcome. That’s why he is always looking for ways to go the extra mile by giving members not just the equipment and services but events and nudges to participate in a community of like-minded people.
They offer plenty of cardio and weight training space as well as a full sized volleyball and basketball court. They also offer saunas and cold plunge therapy. Clean locker rooms with showers provide members a pleasant place to clean up after a workout. They offer training services including basketball training.
With a high-end industrial look and a little farmhouse mixed in, American Barbell feels modern and welcoming. “Wellness is not just going to the gym and lifting weights. Atmosphere is important too. Our culture is our product,” he explained.
While building community and giving people a place to call home when it comes to their fitness goals is vital to the success of American Barbell, it is also a destination gym. He said they have people come from all over in search of a new place to work out, even if for just a day. That’s why anyone who purchases a day pass and then decides to join the gym within seven days will have their day pass cost applied to their membership.
While many Americans struggle with their weight or to find time to practice selfcare, Nate is adamant that it’s important for everyone to care for themselves. After losing both his parents in the last few years – his dad to heart disease and his mom to cancer – it became evident that selfcare is an investment in family as much as it is in self. “My kids will never know them. They’ll never see how I turned out or hold my kids because they’re not here,” he said. “It is not selfish to go to the gym. It is not selfish to jog outside. It is not selfish to make yourself a healthy meal. It is an investment in your future and in your family. You’ll be a better employee. You’ll be a better dad. You’ll have more energy to play ball with your kids. You’ll be there for your grandkids someday if you’re looking out for your health.”
Nate’s wife Courtney is a fulltime nurse and part time trainer at the gym. The couple have a toddler son and an infant daughter. “I’m so grateful for her. She’s a heck of a mom and she believes in me and helps me be the best version of myself. Family is everything.”
Speaking of family, the life the couple have built with this business, their home and their kids is Nate’s own version of the American Dream. “I didn’t come from anything. I put myself through college and have worked hard to get here. This is my own version of the American Dream and it means a lot to have something to pass on to our kids. They see us working hard. They see daddy working at they gym and getting things done. That’s important me.”
As he continues to build on this dream, he said there is still room for growth on their nine-acre lot. That space may come in handy someday as Nate is constantly on the lookout for ways to improve and grow. “When it comes down to it, the main difference between gyms is the color on the wall. Everyone has rows of shiny equipment so it’s important to look for ways to set ourselves apart and to give our members more reasons to come, to stay and to have a better experience,” he said. “A gym shouldn’t just be the equipment. It’s important to show the human side, to grow the community side too.”
With that in mind, he stocks a one-acre pond and plans to allow member access to fish on certain days this year. They host a Turkey Bowl on Thanksgiving Day and have plans for a 4th of July party with fireworks. Five-on-five basketball is a big draw as well.
If you think you don’t have time to work on physical fitness, Nate has some advice. He said there’s no need to be a seven day a week gym rat. You can work in physical fitness 2-3 days a week and watch what you eat most of the time and still see powerful results. “We all have stuff in our life that throws us off track. The saying tells us that it’s ten percent what happens to you and ninety percent how you react to it. Keep going, always move forward. Just remember that an all or nothing mentality causes us to lose balance. Just keep going.”
American Barbell is located at 9099 Basil Western Road, Canal Winchester. Visit them online at Americanbarbellohio.com and follow them on Facebook.