Carrie Rengers

Start-up health and fitness center takes on Chicago management partner

Not quite two years after opening their health and fitness center near 21st and Webb Road, Opti-Life owners Matt Lillie and Tien Huynh have taken on a management partner.

“We partnered with a company called Power Wellness out of Chicago,” Lillie says.

Power Wellness had helped Opti-Life before it opened in January 2018.

“We just went back to them and started having conversations,” Lillie says.

He says the company, which won’t have any ownership in Opti-Life, specializes in a couple of different things that will help the center advance.

That includes streamlining back-office functions.

“Ultimately, it came down to we wanted to spend more time with members and less time on paperwork, and that’s what they’re helping us do,” Lillie says.

Also, Power Wellness will help with what Lillie calls medical integration, such as assisting people who have just been released from physical therapy or who are recovering from strokes or heart attacks.

“That’s new and something we always aspired to do.”

Power Wellness has been in business for 23 years, and Lillie says it can help with best practices.

“This was a new venture for us,” he says. “I wanted to get more expertise on all areas. . . . Since we’re a stand-alone gym, there really is no true way to compare us.”

Lillie says he wants to know, “Where is the bar, and then how do we raise the bar?”

Opti-Life employees had to apply for their jobs again with the management group.

Lillie says the move gives employees better benefits, such as retirement and health insurance.

“Everybody was offered a job.”

He says some people’s jobs changed, though.

Opti-Life now has almost 2,000 members.

Lillie and Huynh have an interest in doing more Opti-Life sites, but not anytime soon.

“We get asked that a lot,” Lillie says.

“Until this one gets more mature, we won’t be doing anything in other states. I won’t say that’s forever.”

He says the medical integration program is important for Opti-Life to get right before expanding.

“That would potentially inspire us to go to other markets because we want to make a difference.”