Education: Graduate of F.J. Reitz High School, Evansville, and the University of Southern Indiana with a degree in accounting
Resume: The man behind Bob’s Gym, with four multipurpose locations and CrossFit 8085 located on Evansville’s East Side. Bob’s Gym celebrated its 25th anniversary in February.
Family: Wife Stefanie, and three daughters, Morgan, 15, Madeline, 14, and Molly, 11
Originally operating out of a 5,000-square-foot pole barn built on the “cheapest land I could find,” Bob’s Gym is synonymous with Evansville fitness. When workouts ceased with the closing of Gold’s Gym Downtown, a large void was left on the West Side of Evansville. And Bob Swallows loves the side of town where he was raised. He appealed to his parents Judy and Larry “Rock” Swallows to aid him in his efforts. “I wore them down,” says Swallows. “They said ‘no’ for six months.”
A leap of faith in 2000 led him from the pole barn to constructing a West Side location of 50,000 square feet, 30,000 of which Bob’s Gym utilizes. Now there are a total of five facilities — a CrossFit affiliate and four gyms, including the East Side location’s day spa, which features “aestheticians.”
“I’m from the West Side,” says Swallows. “I’m not sure I am supposed to say that word.”
You are known for being an entrepreneur. What are you working on now?
The total picture now is helping clients find success with the gym’s food and wellness offerings. Perfectly Fresh meals launched in 2014 and now sells on average more than 1,000 meals each week. They are for sale at all Bob’s Gyms and a few select specialty retailers. Soon we will offer high protein and high fiber shakes and ice cream packed in a variety of sizes and sourced with local ingredients, such as local honey.
What is new in the multipurpose gym world?
Definitely group exercise. People want choices. The Mossa Group Power (pre-choreographed), Group Core, and Group Fight are all very popular right now. Also, Burn at the Barre Pilates. And, CrossFit also is extremely hot right now.
You are heavily invested in the Evansville region and community. Why do you like doing business here?
Evansville is a sweet spot. I love the small-town feel. We built Bob’s Gyms with locations easily accessible from anywhere in town.
When not at work where can we find you?
My three daughters are involved in ballet, cheer, swimming, and tennis. I try to always be there.
(TT: Swallows also is helping the Newburgh Sea Creatures swim club earn more concession money at meets and helps run the food and drink area with nontraditional entrepreneurial flair.)
Your business has grown tremendously since your start 25 years ago. What do you attribute the continued success of your gyms to?
I have the best staff now that I have ever had.
What is a Bob Swallows surprise for the readers?
I have danced in “The Nutcracker” and am a math nerd. I am the academic math coach for the fifth and sixth grade, and seventh and eighth grade teams at Resurrection School.
For more information about Bob’s Gym, call 812-424-2627 or visit bobsgym.com.