Building Nexus Fitness From the Ground Up

How a gym owner with a big idea worked with Knight Eady to bring his brand to life.


Chris Wade is a natural entrepreneur, as well as a go-getter.

He has proven this about himself many times over the years, from transitioning from a walk-on to a full-ride scholarship player on Clemson’s football team, to building a premium fitness facility with a growing community of members.

Chris approached Knight Eady about helping him launch a gym in the fall of 2017. At that point, he had only a vision and a name: Nexus Fitness. However, having worked for many years in the fitness industry, Chris knew exactly what type of gym he wanted to build. His vision was one of community above all, with the highest-quality coaching and facility to accompany. 

Chris looked to partner with Knight Eady for the marketing, communication, public relations and event management services he needed to get Nexus off of the ground. Knight Eady believed in Chris and his vision. It was clear his passion would shine through in the development of the brand’s identity and story, and the Knight Eady team was inspired by his enthusiasm to bring the brand to life.

From The Ground Up

When Knight Eady officially signed Nexus Fitness on as a client, there was not a fitness facility at 187 Oxmoor Road. In fact, there was a different building in its place, one that left a lot up to the imagination as a future location for a state-of-the-art fitness facility.

Knight Eady knew the key to getting people excited about Nexus Fitness was to create a compelling and contagious story. Not only did Chris have a great personal story, but his hope of helping revitalize West Homewood would be compelling to the community. Knight Eady’s role was to tell the Nexus Fitness story in a way that inspired people to buy-in to the vision and commit to membership before they had something tangible to grasp. 

The first major task was developing the brand identity for Nexus Fitness. By definition, Nexus means a connection or series of connections linking two or more things. Chris chose this name because of his strategic plan to offer two types of programming at Nexus Fitness: CrossFit and high-intensity interval training, later named X4. 

Knight Eady spent concentrated time with Chris to understand his key motivations and help articulate the core values and mission of Nexus. We decided on the short and simple tagline “CrossFit. HIIT. Community.” These three pillars defined the Nexus brand identity — a community of people connected through two fitness programs. Additionally, the core values are now shown clearly on the walls of the facility as a physical reminder of the essence of the brand: Commit to Excellence, Fuel Positive and Intentional Relationships, Growth Through Humility, Invest in Yourself and Others.

A Winning Game Plan

Once the brand identity and unique service offering were defined, Knight Eady began to build the plan that would eventually help Nexus scale their story, and communicate that vision to the community. Knight Eady worked with Chris to develop the right plan to meet the goal of  250 members prior to the doors opening for launch. 

A combination of paid, earned and owned media tactics was utilized in the membership campaign leading up to the gym’s opening. A strong public relations strategy helped generate awareness in the Homewood market and develop trust with potential members by having the gym’s story told by trusted, local reporters. Placements were secured in publications such as the Homewood Star, Birmingham Business Journal and Bham Now. Several news appearances on Talk of Alabama and Jeh Jeh Pruitt’s Exercise Monday segment further spread the word, along with a paid media partnership with Bham Now for additional inventory.

Knight Eady developed a collection of owned channels for marketing including social media pages and a website to establish a place for prospective members to learn more. On social media, the content had a community-centric approach where the pages did not simply advertise the gym’s offerings but highlighted the members and coaches who make the Nexus community so special. Knight Eady created a series of video content detailing Chris and his vision for a community-focused gym, what Nexus Fitness was going to offer, and how to get involved before the opening of our launch. Additionally, Chris and his coaches created nightly Instagram Live sessions to show the progress of construction and to create more buzz around the launch. Social media was also a platform for giveaways in order to give back to the followers while growing awareness in the online community.  The brand’s voice on social media was established as being about the people — making people feel loved, inspired and cared for. 

Across each marketing tactic and creative execution, the messaging focused on why Nexus was unique. With many nearby gyms offering either weight training or high-intensity, the campaign had to tell the story of Nexus’ duality. Additionally, Nexus’ added perks like childcare and full-service locker rooms were compelling to certain audiences. 

As a culmination of the campaign and to celebrate the launch and the end of construction, prospective members, friends, and family were invited to a launch party. This final push shattered the attendance goal and yielded a spike in memberships, another testament to the community of supporters who believed in Chris and understood the unique culture of Nexus Fitness. 

As a result of the hard work put into the launch plan and execution, Nexus opened its doors with 275 members, which exceeded the goal set at the beginning of the campaign.

Post Game Notes

A year later, Nexus is now close to 600 members and growing at a steady pace. Nexus Fitness made a name for itself in the Birmingham community, known for its incredible workout offerings, the welcoming community and, of course, Chris Wade. Members have felt themselves grow stronger, relationships have been formed, lives have been changed and people have found a home at Nexus Fitness. 

Nexus has grown in its offerings, as well, now offering a nutrition program called Nexus Health and a gym-wide competition called the Nexus Open.

Knight Eady now serves as Nexus’ agency of record and oversees external and internal marketing. These responsibilities include all email communication, social media content, video creation and management, public relations, event planning, promotion planning, website management, blog content creation, apparel design, interior, and exterior branding and media buying. 

Knight Eady partnered with Nexus to tell their story and to engage the community before there was even a space to experience the brand. Now, Knight Eady continues to tell their story through the lives of members changed by this gym.

With the help of Knight Eady, Nexus Fitness was able to create, share and own its brand story. Knight Eady is passionate about Nexus Fitness, its leadership, and its members because the brand is authentic. Knight Eady knew and believed Nexus Fitness would change lives through fitness and community and helped guide the brand to tell their story in a way that drove results.