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  • Writer's pictureDiana Smithson

Long Time Brewing

No this isn't about my sudden interest in alcoholic beverages, but rather the brewing of Stronger Today Fitness LLC as a brick and mortar facility opening in Surprise AZ.


Officially getting started! Stronger Today Fitness has been a work in progress since January 2021. The initial idea came as I was sick in bed for 10 days. Fast forward 6 months later, I visited a friend in Utah and she strongly encouraged me to press forward with a dream I didn't know I had. (I always knew I wanted to work outside the home when all of my kids were in school, but I never dreamed of owning my own business. When I became a personal trainer, having a side hustle was all the thought I gave to it.) I thought she was crazy, but I trust her and went all in researching the possibility!


I came back to Arizona and talked to Jeremy about it and we both got really excited about it. I started looking around the city really giving it thought. I started to contact leasing agents to see when I could come see their spots.


After four months of searching, viewing and getting finances in order, I picked this beauty. It was a "gray shell" space, which meant it had never been used before. I could take it and do whatever I wanted with it. I signed the lease October 2021 and began looking for the perfect contractor.


Finding a contractor took a little more time than I anticipated. Knowing my budget and my vision and being in the middle of COVID, aka, no Body works and every piece of construction material is nearly doubled in price, finding the right company took thought, prayer, more thought, more prayer and finally a decision was made. I signed Nov 2021 and the ball got rolling.


Or so I thought......


I was told by my leasing agent as well as the contractors that this would be a very simple project and should be done within 3-4 months. DONE in 3-4 months. That meant with grace being given with holidays and other possible hangups, I was hopeful that March 1, 2022 was opening date.


And then the drama began. December 2021, I was on vacation with my family when I started to insist that I heard from my contractor or architect on a weekly basis with updates. AT this point it had been 6 weeks since signing and there weren't any updates on when the plans would be submitted to the city for approval. I received news from the architect and I started having a really bad feeling about her, but tried to keep my opinion and frustration to myself, and my husband, and really anyone that would listen except her.


From then on, I kept initiating the request for updates on a weekly basis, which increased my concern of what she was really doing to get the project moving. After another 2 months of this back and forth, not giving real straight forward answers, I involved the contractor on the emails and text communications. This got the ball rolling as the contractor realized that I was a referral from someone at my church and he wanted to make sure that I was happy. Go figure!


Fast forward to the end of February 2022 and my hopes of having it open were slowly melting away. I tried to stay positive and put another hopeful date of May 2, 2022 as the new opening date, seeing as we still didn't have permits at this point. After a few days of mulling through the emotions, I received a call from my leasing agent wondering about progress. (Thankfully my landlord didn't require monthly rent until I am operational, but clearly he would want to know how progress is coming so he knows when to expect money coming it. I don't blame him one bit!) My leasing agent told me that I should check in with the city to see how the permits are coming along.


What the heck?!? I had NO idea I could do that!!! I thought that was reserved for 'professionals', forgetting that opening my own business makes me a professional too!


Checking in with the city office was quite the eye opener. Long story short, my architect didn't submit for plans until the beginning of April 2022, 5 MONTHS after signing! RIDICULOUS?!??!??!!!! Then on top of that, I learned that she wasn't a registered architect and didn't work much with commercial, which was the reason for the delay which was blamed on the city permit office.


Ho Hum!!!


Those emotions have come and gone and now the excitement and nervousness of operating a business is quickly approaching.


Stronger Today Fitness is set to have a soft open the beginning of August and ribbon cutting the end of August (just in time for school to start!)


Things that I have learned along this process:

-I had more say in the process than I thought.

-I need to do more research when others subcontract to make sure I agree with those chosen.

-My adrenaline and emotions have been a HUGE roller coaster from excitement to anxiety to frustration to anger to joy to happiness and all those in between.

-Good people exist and are willing to help along the way. My contractors have been very helpful, but they could have hired a new architect!

-God is in the details of our lives.


I have been at peace with the timing as I am striving to hit the ground running and when my kids are in school will truly give me the time and energy to do so.


In the meantime, enjoy the summer, keep stashing the cash and build the excitement as progress is made!



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