Nikki Metzger is one strong lady. Not only could she kick your butt, at the age of 28, she’s already a successful Scottsdale business owner after opening her boutique gym BODI less than a year ago. The Scottsdale resident and Nike Master Trainer whips her students into shape, teaching more than 20 classes a week in a boot camp style.
Owning her own gym has been a dream of Metzger’s since she was only a kid, and she prides herself on providing all-encompassing healthy lifestyle motivation for her clients. Read on to discover what fuels her love for fitness, and check out a video of her naming her five favorite reasons for loving living in the Valley below.
What brought you to Arizona?
I was born and raised on the Wisconsin/Minnesota border in Amery, Wisconsin. The town was only 3,000 people and I didn’t even live in the town – my house was on 150 acres of land in the middle of nowhere.
I was in Chicago the past seven years. My husband and I randomly vacationed here like five or six years ago and just loved it. Ever since then, we’ve come twice a year. Both of us are very warm weather people and hate the cold, and we wanted to move somewhere that had character and wasn’t just a suburb with a lot of franchises. We chose to move here in December last year.
How did you get involved with the professional fitness world?
I went to Columbia College Chicago, where I was a dance major. I danced for my first three years, and then I went through the whole “I need to be a businesswoman and wear business clothes” stage, so I switched my major my last year to arts and entertainment management. That led me to working as a talent agent. I was an on-camera agent in Chicago, repping people for commercials.
My goal ever since I was 12 was to open my own studio, and I decided to get back on that path. I left the entertainment industry and got into health and fitness. I was lucky to meet a really great mentor in Chicago who trained me, and a few months later, I became assistant manager, and then general manager at ENRGi Fitness. I started out more focusing on the dance fitness side of things, and later found my passion was more on the boot camp, high-intensity level of workouts. That’s where I am now.
I’ve been lucky to work with Nike as one of their 12 Master Trainers, which is super-cool. I started out as an ambassador for them, wearing their clothes, then I became a Nike Training Club-certified trainer and began leading NTC classes. Now, as a Master Trainer, I’ll fly out for product launches, I’ll lead hundreds of people through workouts, or I’ll train other trainers on how to teach Nike Training Club. I also get to work with the designers and give input on what’s coming out and have the first look at things, which is awesome.
How did you open BODI?
When I was young, I wanted to have a dance studio. Every time I had the chance to take an entrepreneur class, I would always do it with hopes of building a gym or studio. It’s something I’ve always wanted and have been preparing for my whole life. Managing the gym in Chicago gave me a lot of experience and confidence to do that. When we moved, we decided to go all in and open it up. We opened January 1, 2014.
What’s your vision with BODI, and how would you describe the classes?
It’s a high-intensity group fitness gym. I have a SWEAT class and a STRENGTH class. SWEAT is for days you want lots of cardio and plyometrics and jumping around, definitely a workout where you’re trying to catch your breath the whole time. STRENGTH is totally opposite, for days you want to get a good muscle burnout, where you can lift heavier where you want and get extra reps in where you want.
Every day, the workout is different, with the time you’re doing things for and the equipment you’re using changing every day. We have so many fun toys here. We have battle ropes, pull-up bars, tires, kettlebells, suspension trainers, plyo boxes, TRX and more. It’s a playground, pretty much, for anybody who comes in.
It’s a good mix of motivating each other to work toward one goal, and it also gives you a sense of feeling like an athlete. It’s appropriate for any skill level. For every exercise, I give three levels of modifications. I have people here who are professional athletes, and I have people here who have never worked out and are 70 years old, and they might be in the same class.
We try to integrate the whole lifestyle aspect to it, whether it’s educating people in the important aspects of protein in workouts or how to cut sugar, or helping them set goals. We want this to be a place not just for your workout, but to help you better your life.
What are your goals with the gym?
I want to be the best and go-to spot in Scottsdale. Right now, it’s definitely quality over quantity. I don’t see popping up in a bunch of spots here and there, because I want to keep it a close-knit family like we have. I want the instructors to be the top, and I want myself to be a part of it as much as I can every single day. If anything, I’d want to do a bigger spot in Old Town before I would do a new spot somewhere else.
What’s a really effective basic workout move you’d recommend?
Push-ups and planks can go a long way. You want your shoulders, elbows and wrists all in line, and you want to keep your head neutral. You want to think about having your belly button to your spine and not letting those hips drop – that goes for both of them, as well as side planks. Arm alignment is important, and paying attention to your spine and that you’re not arching is important. You can do push-ups and planks anywhere.
Do you think it’s acceptable to do push-ups on your knees?
I think it’s acceptable, sure. I think it’s something some people get a little comfortable with, so it’s important to try and do some push-ups on your toes and increase the frequency each time. But, if your form is horrible, and you can’t get very low on your toes, it’s going to be beneficial for you to do them on your knees.
What have been the biggest benefits and challenges to opening up your own business?
Definitely a financial standpoint is the scariest thing. My husband and I didn’t take out any loans or get any investors. We used what we had saved up to put into it, so that was definitely the scariest part. When you’re opening your doors, you hope people show up. For us, because we didn’t come from a family with money to support us or have investors, it was putting everything we’ve worked for into this business.
The best part has been to hear how I’m changing people’s lives. So many people have told me coming here is the best part of their day, and that makes me want to work even harder. If this is the best part of your day, I want to make it the best it can be. The best part of BODI is the community of people.
With so many Americans not exercising, what would you say are the biggest reasons fitness is important?
It helps with day-to-day movement. A lot of the stuff I do is functional training, so everything I do is going to benefit you in life – the squatting movements, the lunging movements, the pushing, the pulling. Every exercise you do, you’ll be able to relate to your life and move more and move better.
Strength training is especially important, especially for older people to maintain their bone mass and stay strong.
Why would you say you stand out among fitness instructors?
I think it’s the energy and passion I bring. The number one word people use to describe me is “energy.” I think it’s more than just a job or a business for me. I’m 100 percent invested in my clients’ lives inside and outside the gym.
Why should people take one of your classes?
Not only are they challenging workouts physically and mentally, I make them so fun, you forget how challenging it is.
What advice would you have for someone who wants to open their own gym?
Do research, and know where you want to do it. Understand your reasons why you want to open a gym – is it because you want to own a business, is it because you want to make money, or is it because teaching truly is your passion?
Make a business plan that works for you. If someone wants to do something, I think they should just do it. You only live once.