Nothing Halfway – 50/50 Fitness & Nutrition Is Passionate About Members’ Success

Katie Lipsmeyer grew up in Arkansas, went to college in Tennessee, and spent seven years in Texas as an event planner before switching gears completely — thanks to a gym in Galveston.
“I loved event planning, but I wasn’t completely fulfilled,” she told HCN. “I took my first small-group boot camp at a small gym, and fell in love with challenging myself. I had a great trainer. I felt amazing, and I wanted to pass that along.”
So this “southern girl,” as she called herself, decided on a career change, and went looking in the Northeast, where she landed at a couple different studios before discovering Energia Fitness in Hadley.
There, she met Justin Killeen, who was on his own entrepreneurial journey. He started doing in-home training in 2013, then established a personal-training program at Energia. A year later, he purchased the gym and went about building up its membership and expanding its roster of programs and classes.
Today, that business is known as 50/50 Fitness & Nutrition, boasting two locations a few hundred feet apart on Route 9, one for group classes and another focusing on personal training. As for Lipsmeyer, she moved up from her initial role as an instructor, first to manager, then, in January 2015, to co-owner of the business with Killeen.
“We do group exercises, small-group training, and personal training,” Lipsmeyer said, noting that the name 50/50 and the company’s tagline, “a balanced approach to health and wellness,” reiterates the two-pronged approach to getting in shape. “We take the fitness piece and the nutrition piece and put it into one plan for each individual person.”
The business has grown since their partnership began. In fact, the group classes were previously held in a different location, but outgrew the space; the new location is two and a half times the size of the original spot and boasts an outdoor workout area as well.
Lipsmeyer says her and Killeen’s contrasting personalities are a big part of their success as business owners.
“I’m touchy-feely; I like the meditative aspects of group exercise. He much more appeals to the technical side; he’s more a boot-camp-style instructor. We complement each other really well,” she said, adding that instructors are encouraged to cultivate their own personal styles as well, which gives members flexibility.
“They can see who appeals to them and who has an energy they like,” she said, noting that 70 different classes each week — from spinning to TRX, bar, pilates, and outdoor boot camp, including early-morning classes that begin at 5:30 a.m. — give clients plenty of scheduling flexibility as well.
“We wanted to create a space where anyone could walk through the doors and create a program that works for them,” she went on. “50/50 is about the balance in life. Some people need more cardio, or strength, or balance, or mobility. We meet people where they are and formulate a program for them. Some people need a lot of guidance, personal training, that one-on-one help. Some really like small-group training, where people work out together, work toward a common goal with a trainer. There’s something for everyone.”

Individual Journeys
The rapid growth of the business testifies to the appeal of Killeen’s long-time training philosophy, which Lipsmeyer embraces as well — one that treats every client differently.
“We constantly assess and determine individual need and continue to raise the bar higher, while teaching and educating every step of the way,” Killeen said. “We look at injuries, muscular imbalances, flexibility, strength, cardiovascular health, and nutrition. More importantly, we determine where our clients stand, where they could stand to see improvements, and where we fit in.”
Take the nutrition angle, for instance. Lipsmeyer said trainers talk to clients about what they’re eating, how often they’re eating and portion size, and help them track their progress as they make changes, holding them accountable for the goals they set for themselves. But they don’t push specific diets or foods, instead helping members craft their own plan, with the help of an app called MyFitnessPal, which tracks calories, fat, sodium, and other key nutritional data in foods, and helps users take better control of their choices.
“We look at people’s lifestyles in terms of nutrition and fitness,” she said. “We help empower them, give them the resources, whether it’s a workout or nutrition. If you give people the tools they need, they feel much more empowered to take control of their lives. Successful people don’t want to be spoon-fed; they want to have a handle on their lives, and we help them in doing that.”
The business also recently began offering ready-to-eat meals from Food for Strength, a Hadley-based preparer of healthy food, which members can eat before or after class, or take home — inputting the nutritional data into MyFitnessPal, of course. The venture also conducts a weight-loss challenge at the start of each year, and both Killeen and Lipsmeyer regularly blog about fitness and nutrition issues on the 50/50 website.
Killeen says he wants to bridge the gap between fitness professionals and healthcare professionals like doctors, nutritionists, physical therapists, and massage therapists.
“There is so much information and misinformation out there, which is why we meet with every new client to discuss our program in detail,” he said. “We don’t prescribe diets, we don’t promise instant results, and we don’t injure our clients. What we do offer is a renewed sense of balance, a promise for lifestyle change, and a community of support.”
Typically, Lipsmeyer said, new clients take advantage of a first-timer special, an unlimited month of programs for $59, to get to know the schedule, classes, and instructors, and find out what works best for them. “We’ll also meet with them for a complimentary, 30-minute consultation, talk about their goals and motivation, and set them up on a path for success. We have beginners, athletes, and people getting back into exercise after injury or just not doing it for a while. Our youngest is 10, and our oldest is 83, so we are definitely not one-size-fits-all.”
That personalized approach applies to members who focus on group training, but is even more evident on the personal-training side, which is Killeen’s specialty. “In personal training, we talk about an individual plan for people and have constant conversations with our clients,” Lipsmeyer said. “And we will modify that plan based on your goals or weaknesses we see within your body, and communicate how we can best fix those things.”

First Steps
On the group-training side, classes are crafted to appeal to a wide range of people, so members can feel comfortable joining in whether it’s their thousandth class, or they’re out of shape and haven’t worked out in a while.
“Our goal as instructors and fitness specialists is to help individuals reach their goals, but also empower them as a community, as a group of people,” Lipsmeyer said. “That’s one thing that sets us apart from other fitness facilities; we are a community of people, where the staff takes care of the clients and the clients take care of the clients.”
That element of care begins the first day, she added, because the trainers at 50/50 understand the vulnerability of people walking in for the first time, usually out of shape, and taking those first steps toward a healthier life.
“It can be incredibly intimidating, even just setting yourself up on the bike,” she went on. “The person next to you, it could be their second class or their 100th class, for all you know. And they’re doing amazing, and you have no idea what you’re doing. We recognize that vulnerability — you’re working as hard as you can, red in the face, grunting and groaning … it’s a very vulnerable position to be in a class full of strangers.”
Therefore, she, Killeen, and the team try to make the experience as comfortable as possible, offering a tour, getting new members acquainted with the class, instructing them on how to use the bikes and other equipment, and introducing them to other members.
“Usually the clients are really great: ‘follow what I’m doing; I can help you out if you want,’” she noted. “That’s another aspect of our community, what’s so amazing about this place.”
The classes at 50/50 aim for an element as fun as well, not to mention variety. Take the lights-out spinning class, where the shades are drawn, the music turned up, and participants ride to the beat of the music in what Lipsmeyer calls an “introspective” experience. The lights-out option was so well-received that seven such classes are offered weekly. “We try to mix up styles and vary what we’re doing.”
Whatever the class, Killeen said, members feel the instructors’ passion. “When you look around and see the energy and excitement in the room when people come together and really work toward a higher level … that, to me, is the most satisfying thing.”
He’s also gratified to be involved in the community in ways that have nothing to do with fitness or nutrition. The company is a partner with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Hampshire County and a supporter and sponsor of several nonprofits and charity events.
“It’s exciting to have all these people who want to help grow the community,” Lipsmeyer said. “We really want to be involved. We sponsor local races, and people advocate for us in turn; it’s great karma. It’s very important for us to be out in the community and serving not just clients, but people in the Pioneer Valley as a whole.”

Next Level
Killeen calls the past few years a “whirlwind” and says he hasn’t had much time to take a breath and simply appreciate it, but the results of his work keep him motivated.
“I always knew what I wanted to do,” he said of his entrepreneurial success at a young age. “I just didn’t know how I’d get there.”
Lipsmeyer, similarly, doesn’t lack for confidence, and thinks 50/50’s success to date is only the beginning.
“I felt like I was destined for greatness, but I didn’t know what it was going to be. But I feel like this is it,” she said of a job she’s far more passionate about than event planning in Texas.
“People see our energy and passion for fitness,” she told HCN. “We want them to be an active participant, not just a passive one, going through the motions because they have to work out. Watching people achieve their goals, going along their journeys with them — it’s just cool to watch them walk that path.”

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