How a college dropout is changing the local fitness scene

Fit Republic in St. Joseph displays some of the supplement store’s products.

Austin Evans knew what he wanted to do from a young age. His interest in fitness and nutrition began as a teen, but his dream to own a business was something he always had.

“I’ve always wanted to start my own business, since I was a little boy,” Evans said. “I hated school- I hated high school; I failed college. I just wanted to own my own business. I knew what I wanted to do and that I was passionate about the fitness and nutrition industry.”

Evans attended Missouri Western State University for a short period, but eventually was informed he was failing his classes. He dropped out of college and started pursuing his dream full-time.

He searched for a business he could bring to St. Joseph that he believed in. Eventually, he found the perfect match when he met with the CEO of Fit Republic- a small, regional chain of supplement stores.

At just 22 years old, Evans began the process to make Fit Republic a reality. At such a young age, he faced some difficulty, but was eventually successful.

“I guess the hardest part was presenting a business plan to the bank and getting me, a 22 year old, money,” Evans said.

Fit Republic in St. Joseph opened in January of 2016, and became a hot spot for the fitness community during its first year. For Aaron Wells, a patron of the store, the business offered something he had not found at other supplement stores.

“As soon as you walk in the door, they’re not hounding to sell you products or anything,” Wells said. “They want to know what your goals are, what you’re doing to try to accomplish those goals and what they can do to help you accomplish those goals.”

Evans’ goal when opening Fit Republic was to create a place where his customers could come for education and encouragement. He offered free nutrition plans, free fitness consultations with a local personal trainer and free product samples to anyone who walked into his store.

“Yes, we sell supplements to pay the bills, but that’s kind of only an afterthought,” Evans said. “We focus on just really bringing value to the person and setting them up for success.”

Lean Kitchen offers healthy, pre-made meals for customers.

Evans was not only successful in realizing his dream of owning a business, but he was also able to start an entirely new business. He created Lean Kitchen in an effort to provide healthy meals for his customers who were unable to make healthy meals at home due to finances, lack of knowledge or time constraints.

“My big thing with Lean Kitchen was I wanted to give 100 percent fresh meals,” Evans said. “It’s always fresh, never frozen [and] no preservatives. It’s portioned perfectly. We have everything from tacos, to steak and eggs to protein muffins.”

Fit Republic and Lean Kitchen have helped many people achieve their goals and the proof is shown in the reviews they receive on their Facebook page.

For Wells, the friendly spirit and sincerity have helped make it easier to navigate the fitness industry.

“The thing about Fit Republic is, when you go in the door you’re not treated as a customer; you’re treated as a friend,” Wells said. “It sounds cheesy, but ever since the first day I walked in the door, it was pretty much an instant relationship.”