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Columbus women strengthen fitness community, help business owners grow

SweatNet is a “fitness community” which gives its members deals and discounts on workouts, meals, and other items in Columbus.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Two Columbus women are helping gyms, health and wellness restaurants and other businesses gain new business during the pandemic thanks to a fitness community they brought to the city in the last year.

SweatNet is a “fitness community” which gives its members deals and discounts on workouts, meals, and other items in Columbus.

“Our whole goal is to connect the community to new businesses, local health and wellness related, that they might not have tried before, they haven’t heard of before, or maybe they were intimidated and nervous to drop into a certain studio,” said SweatNet leader Megan Smith.

Smith and Jill Richard together brought SweatNet to Columbus. The fitness idea started in Charlotte, North Carolina and is now in several cities across the country.

“We love to go try out a bunch of different studios and support as many local places that we can,” said Richard. “We liked the idea of how it was more of a community and we wouldn’t be set in one direction, but we could help support all those businesses.”

The two women work together to help market for those local businesses, or partners, in exchange for discounts and even free items for SweatNet members.

They launched the Columbus branch of SweatNet at the beginning of 2020. Both said they were hoping to launch the endeavor with in-person workouts with gym owners among others, but events and classes were moved online as the pandemic began.

“We have a website that can host virtual workouts, so we started offering that opportunity to some of our fitness studio partners, to house their workouts on our website,” Smith said.

They have partnered with nearly 70 fitness studios, instructors, health and wellness restaurants and spas. One of their partners is “fitness concept” Grind, owned by Maggie Simcic.

Simcic began to move forward with renting spaces for fitness classes just before 2020 and started working to create her own business called Grind.

When the pandemic began a lot of her work toward building a new business slowed, until summer when she teamed up with Smith and Richard at SweatNet to bring people outside for her workouts.

“I thought this is really cool. They’ll help you out with your marketing, you can partner with them on certain events and it sounded like a really good partnership,” Simcic said.

Simcic credits SweatNet for helping to keep her business alive in the time of COVID-19 with pop-up events at breweries and parks across Columbus.

“Every Friday they would offer their members, maybe like two or three people could come to my class for free once a week and that brought new faces in that way,” Simcic said.

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