Opti-Life fitness center closes after less than five years

Less than five years after opening, Opti-Life has closed.

Saturday was the fitness center’s last day in business near 21st and Webb Road.

“We all had held out hope that there would be a solution,” said an e-mailed letter from the business to members.

“We had both a member that was organizing a group as well as the YMCA express interest in the last few weeks.”

In a community where the Greater Wichita YMCA is celebrated for some of the best facilities nationwide, and locally owned Genesis Health Clubs also has a powerful reach, Opti-Life faced an uphill battle when it opened in January 2018.

It sounds like the pandemic was a big factor in the decision to close. The e-mail said Opti-Life is “yet another victim to covid.”

“Due to the mandated shut down and the lingering fear thereafter, we went from 1350 members to around 335,” the e-mail said. “Since then, we have grown to over 650 members, but we needed another year to build back to the 1,300ish it would take to make Opti-Life a viable business.”

A $350,000 SBA loan the owners were hoping for did not come through.

Matt Lillie started Opti-Life with Tien Huynh to be what he called a “mental, physical . . . holistic experience.”

“I see what happens when you don’t have these things in your life,” Lillie said at the time. “Nobody wants to be in a nursing home, but yet our nursing homes are full. Why is that?”

Lillie, who also founded the Physicians Development Group that develops and operates skilled nursing facilities, assisted living centers and memory-care units, on Sunday said he wasn’t quite ready to discuss Opti-Life’s closure.

In 2017, Lillie said he wanted Opti-Life to be somewhere “to really become healthy — not just from lifting weights or working out. You can’t outwork a bad diet.”

“To live a healthier life. … To live a more engaged life. … That’s my hope for Opti-Life.”

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Despite a last-minute scramble to save the business, Opti-Life near 21st and Webb Road has closed after less than five years in business. File photo

In 2019, Opti-Life hired Chicago-based Power Wellness to streamline back-office functions and add medical integration to the business.

Lillie and Huynh had hoped to build more Opti-Life sites.

The e-mail to members noted what an impact the center had on some people.

“On more than one occasion, we have heard it said that Opti-Life quite literally ‘saved’ their lives.”

The note also apologized to members — including one who had just joined Saturday — for the short notice.

“Please know we fought to keep it alive until the bitter end.”

This story was originally published May 15, 2022 12:44 PM.

Carrie Rengers has been a reporter for more than three decades, including almost 20 years at The Wichita Eagle. Her Have You Heard? column of business scoops runs five days a week in The Eagle. If you have a tip, please e-mail or tweet her or call 316-268-6340.

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