Fitness Friends

How a friendship that began at Oakland University blossomed into the successful metro Detroit gym brand Applied Fitness Solutions

Oakland University alums Jared Freeman and Nate Langley

Oakland University alums Jared Freeman and Nate Langley of Applied Fitness Solutions. Photo by Jason Willis.

Gym Class

icon of a calendarJuly 24, 2017

icon of a pencilBy Adam DePollo

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Michael Stack of Applied Fitness Solutions

Michael Stack, owner of Applied Fitness Solutions

Exercise physiologist Michael E. Stack, a Masters of Exercise Science Candidate at Oakland University, founded the Applied Fitness Solutions (AFS) gym brand in 2005. He was working as a graduate assistant in the University's departments of Health Promotion and Exercise Science when he met fellow OU alumnus and AFS co-owner, Jared Freeman, SHS '08.

“I had a lot of students who performed well, but Jared was one of those that you could tell truly wanted to be there,” Stack says. The rest is Applied Fitness history, and this year the company celebrated the opening of its third branch — a massive 17,000-square-foot facility in Rochester, just a few miles east of OU's campus.

“What really differentiates us is that we’ve been able to provide a high degree of individualization to each client at a really low cost,” says AFS client experience manager and marketing director Nate Langley, who also happens to be OU communications grad and Freeman's cousin. “What’s allowed us to scale up is that we connect every single client to their own personal coach, and it only costs $35 a month to get that level of interaction, which you can’t find anywhere else.”

Another perk unique to AFS is the communal gym culture, says Langley.

“Our first facility in Ann Arbor really became a community and a place that people looked forward to going to,” he says. “That, I think, is our biggest accomplishment. You can walk into any of our facilities and have that positive, really energetic feeling.”

Each AFS member receives individualized fitness and nutritional instruction, during a weekly interaction with an instructor, and receives health assessments backed up by Freeman's extensive exercise science curriculum at OU.

“A lot of schools you go to … the curriculum is pure exercise science,” Freeman says. “But in the Health Promotion track there was the exercise science, and then there was the community health and the stress management and the complimentary medicine. There’s also interpersonal skills — the habit-change and the stress-management based material that you’re exposed to at OU is something I use a lot more than I thought I would.”

Langley, likewise, was heavily influenced by his time studying communications at OU, spending some time working at OUTV. His experience at the University may not have made him a personal trainer, but he did learn the value of personalized instruction.

“Your professors are just incredibly accessible,” he says. “I would tell (my friends) stories about OU, and they would be like ‘Oh, man, there’s no way I would be able to give my professors a phone call.’”

AFS also prides itself on the accessibility of its instructors at its three locations, says Langley. And, like OU, the company's plan is to keep growing its community.

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