Trainer, Businessman Open Jam Performance and Fitness

HERMITAGE, Pa. – A few years ago, Marlin Palich had never set foot in a gym. But as he was getting older and after an illness required some physical therapy, he set out to get in shape.

“My biggest fear was when I was walking into another gym not knowing how to turn the treadmill on,” he said, before he eventually started working out with trainer Jeff Wurster. “Now, I’m a little fearless. I’ll try anything and do anything. And we want everyone to have that opportunity and be healthier.”

That teamwork, which resulted in Palich – who is the Cleveland region manager for Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices – losing 80 pounds, led to a partnership: the creation of Jam Performance and Fitness, 2235 State St. in Hermitage. The fitness center’s grand opening is Saturday and will feature condensed, 20-minute classes and membership giveaways.

“This is going to be a bit different than a gym where you walk in and do your own thing. We do have people doing that, but we want this to be performance-based and instruction-based with functional movement, as opposed to machine movement,” Wurster said. “There’s a lot of free weights, bands, kettle bells, group classes and personal training.”

For both, opening the gym was a labor of love. Wurster has more than 25 years of experience as a personal trainer and leading fitness classes, on top of a degree in dietetics and nutrition from the University of Alabama and in exercise science from the University of Pittsburgh. Working with Palich, to open a gym spurred from his commitment to getting in shape.

“He’s somebody that has the passion,” Wurster said of his fellow co-owner. “You don’t want to go into business with someone who doesn’t have that and is just out to make a buck. You don’t get into fitness for the money. He likes this, he likes being here and he’s done this and been successful.”

After making the decision to launch the gym, Wurster handled the renovation and layout of the space, which had previously been a Halloween store and, luckily enough, a gym. They bought space in April and renovated much of the space’s nearly 1,000 square feet, from tearing up the matted-down carpet and replacing it with rubber floors to painting all the walls and installing equipment.

“Jeff worked diligently and hard to make this happen,” Palich said. “I can’t say enough about all the hard work that he did and that’s how we works as a trainer. Anything he does, he hits it head on.”

With more than 40 years of experience in real estate, getting into the fitness industry is something entirely new for Palich, but not an unknown entity.

“With losing 80 pounds, this is the best I’ve ever felt in my life and I’m in my 60s. I want people to experience that,” he said. “I’ve always enjoyed helping people. It’s been such a great journey – and one that never ends – and we all know how important it is to your health, especially as you get older, and it’s a great stress relief.”

Among the classes offered at Jam Performance and Fitness are Zumba, Build Muscle, P90, Old School Step, Veraflow, Boot Camp, Roll It Out and Stretch, and both power and yin yoga courses. Nutrition classes will also be available, as will youth classes. Memberships start at $25 per month.

While a section of the gym is open for people to work out on their own, the owners say the emphasis of Jam Performance is on the classes and welcoming in people who are where Palich once was, with little experience in the gym and wanting to be in better health.

“We want it to be for everybody. That sounds like a canned speech, but speaking for myself – who had never been in a gym – it’s about coming in the door, feeling welcome and knowing you have support,” Palich said.

As for the course instructors, Wurster says competition is tight within the fitness industry and it can be tough to hire people away from their current positions, especially as a startup.

“It comes down to a gut feeling and word of mouth from people who’ve been to their classes,” he said. “All my instructors have been through that or recommended by other facilities. We go through and interview them, but then we go see them to make sure they’re doing things the way I think they should be doing them.”

Now, as the grand opening of Jam Performance approaches, Palich and Wurster are ready for their first foray into a new chapter of their careers.

“I had [the gym] pictured in my head and it turned out almost exactly like I pictured it,” Wurster said. “Marlin is a success story. To promote fitness journeys and getting results, he’s that guy. He can speak to making it work”

Adds Palich, “Some people might think it’s crazy for someone of my age to do something like this with no background in this other than my own experience, but when you have a wonderful partner like Jeff, it makes you excited. It’s a new stage of my life.”

Pictured: Jeff Wurster and Marlin Palich are co-owner of Jam Performance and Fitness, Hermitage. 

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.