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Feelin' raw: Empire Muscle one year strong

Monday, January 18, 2016

By: Natasha Marar, Business Advisor

Getting in shape shouldn’t require hours of running on a treadmill each week.

Andrew Hedges, owner of Empire Muscle gym, thinks weight training in a collaborative facility is the key to reaching one’s fitness goals.

“When my clients come to Empire Muscle, I want everybody to feel they are part of a team. Even though our goals may be individual, everybody is making a collaborative effort. The culture and environment is completely different than [other gyms].”

Empire Muscle, located in an old auto garage at 925 Crawford Ave., focuses on heavy weight training, power lifting, power and body building and boxing. Feb. 8 will mark the gym’s one-year anniversary.

Hedges, a Small Business Centre client and Starter Company grant recipient, started Empire Muscle because he was dissatisfied with Windsor’s gym culture. He found a number of both large and independent gyms didn’t provide the team atmosphere he was seeking and tied members to expensive annual contracts.

Empire Muscle offers month-to-month training as well as discounts for 3-, 6- and 12-month memberships. Hedges said they’re also lenient with membership freezes, which “comes with being a small and local, grassroots operation.”

“By the nature of the training we do, some people might need to take time off for recovery or spend some time away for their jobs, family or school,” he said.

Despite its name and focus on competitive athleticism, Empire Muscle features a mixed clientele of men and women ages 14-71 from all walks of life, including athletes, students and people interested in general fitness.

“One comment that a lot of people make, especially when they’re not familiar with this kind of training atmosphere, is what they perceive to be a lack of cardio equipment,” said Hedges. “There are things you can accomplish with more versatile pieces of equipment. [Cardio equipment] isn’t the best use of people money, time and space. We have a lot of options for people to get conditioned cardiovascularly without spending hours walking on a treadmill.”

For those aspiring to get into shape, Hedges recommends talking with a fitness professional and training at a gym. He said people often overlook the importance of seeking expert advice before exercising.

“Most people wouldn’t attempt to fix their car on their own ... but when it comes to health and fitness — I don’t know if it comes from a saving money or convenience standpoint — but people go the other way. Instead of consulting professionals they try to do things alone. ... doing things incorrectly can not only be a waste of time, energy and finances, but it can result in injuries and prolonged recovery times,” Hedges explained.

For 2016, Hedges is looking to grow Empire Muscle’s boxing program and offer more services and charitable heavy lifting events. Within the next couple years, he expects to expand the facility and bring in more equipment.

“The location we’re in now has another unit on the other side, so we’d be able to expand in our current facility,” he said. “I picked that location because I had a certain image in my head, a kind of aesthetic that was a little more rough and raw. I really wanted to put the gym in an old auto garage so that in the summertime I could open up the garage doors and let some sunshine in.”

Andrew Hedges is WindsorEssex Small Business Centre client. You too can receive support in launching or expanding your small business. Contact us for more information.