In 1991, Keith and Julie Patterson had a vision to create a fitness center that would be both affordable and accessible to all. A year later, they opened the first ATC Fitness location in Bartlett, TN. Now, with 18 different locations in the Greater Memphis area, ATC Fitness has become the largest family-owned and operated gym franchise in the Midsouth. And on January 6, Keith and his three sons, Spencer McDaniel (41), Tyler McDaniel (35), and Brock Patterson (32), will be celebrating their 30th anniversary.
What started out as a one-man operation quickly turned into a family effort as Spencer, Tyler, and Brock jumped on board to help manage the company for their dad. Today, Spencer serves as the official president of ATC Fitness, while Tyler is the director of operations and Brock is vice-president.
“The three of us are very ambitious. We see what ATC can be,” Brock says. “We have some very grandiose ideas and plans, and we’re really excited about them. I think we will take ATC to the next level.”
In an effort to attract a wider audience, ATC Fitness threw out old contracts in place of a newer “low-cost, high-value” model in 2008. Members today can enjoy unlimited access to equipment with a basic membership starting at $15 per month. The premium membership at $25 per month grants members additional access to every ATC Fitness location, along with free unlimited tanning and daily use of the HydroMassage chairs.
Both membership options allow for 24/7 access to equipment with no long-term commitments and unlimited Smart Start training, a program designed to help members customize their workouts and receive one-on-one coaching to achieve their fitness goals.
“It’s a great program for people who have never been in a club before, or if it’s been a long time since they’ve been in a club,” Spencer adds.
Prioritizing Health and Safety
Since COVID-19 first came on the scene in 2020, ATC Fitness has taken action to ensure members can still enjoy their workouts while following health and safety protocols. In addition to routine cleaning and sanitizing all equipment, medical-grade air purifiers were installed to prevent the spread of airborne illnesses. The REME® LED Halo lights kill up to 99% of airborne pathogens, including bacteria and viruses.
“Adding those really made our current members feel much more comfortable coming in,” Spencer says.
“We are locally-owned [and] family operated. We live in the city of Memphis…. we care about the city of Memphis.”– Brock Patterson
Aside from its convenience and price, part of what draws people to ATC is the sense of family you won’t find anywhere else. As each location continues welcoming new faces every day, some members have stuck around since the very beginning.
“Being around these people for so long…you get to know ‘em. And they get to know you,” Spencer says. “They’re like family to us.”
The brothers hope to continue making improvements as they head into the new year while maintaining good relationships with every member that walks through their doors. From there, the growth will happen on its own, says Tyler.
“It’s [about] not only treating new customers with the same great service we have for 30 years…it’s about keeping your older members happy, too,” he adds.
Bigger Changes Ahead
In honor of their 30th anniversary, ATC Fitness will be undergoing several minor renovations, starting with new paint colors inside every location, a new logo, and a revised website. “We’re constantly trying to get better at what we’re already doing,” Spencer adds.
Their newest location is set to open in Collierville by mid-January, and it’s expected to be the largest one yet. Located in Poplar Market Plaza, it will feature brand new state-of-the-art equipment, more parking, and larger workout areas.
“We’re finally seeing some momentum,” Brock says. “We’re hoping for 2022 to be our biggest year.”
By Colleen May
Photo by Tindall Stephens