Polly Benson - Making Losers
by Jean Blackmer
Polly Benson recently gave an interview about her new fitness business in Columbus, Ohio. Running the business has been a family affair with Polly’s husband, Brian, and their three children, Jake (14), Cassie (12) and Nathan (5), all pitching in. Jake likes to work out and helps with the Web site. Nate enjoys the Exergames and Cassie’s favorite job is handing out the snacks during the kids’ night out.
Polly participated in MOPS for 13 years including serving as a Hospitality Coordinator, Group Coordinator, Council and Area Coordinator.
Polly says her experience with MOPS not only helped her with the practical issues of starting and running her own business, such as marketing, sales, managing people and promoting events, but also more importantly she made some life-long friends. “The friends I’ve made through MOPS give me so much support and encouragement and validate me with what I’m doing now.”
Ten-year-old Zach stood on the scale, holding his breath and staring straight ahead at the wall, nervously waiting to hear if his hard work for the past six weeks had paid off. He’d joined the newly opened Circuit Wellness and Exergame Center in his hometown of Columbus, Ohio, in hopes of losing a little weight.
As the staff computed the numbers, “You’ve lost six pounds!” Polly Benson, owner of the center exclaimed.
Zach’s face lit up with an ear-to-ear grin and he turned around and gave Polly a high five. This is exactly why I’m doing this, she thought, as they continued to record Zach’s progress. He’d dropped 1.75 inches off his waist and lost 10 percent body fat, which all together equated to losing a total of 13 pounds of body fat. And he had fun doing it!
When Polly asked him how he felt, he said he felt less tired, better about himself and his clothes were “getting bigger.” Polly had watched his transformation and noticed how his mom now had to drag him out of the Wellness Center because he was having so much fun.
“I always wanted to own my own business,” Polly says. “So when my husband, Brian, came home one day and told me he thought we should start a fitness center, I knew he was on to something.” Polly has a background in occupational therapy and wanted to do something health-related. She also was concerned about the inactivity of children and wanted to do something about that too. Then Brian heard about Exergaming, video games that also provide exercise. “We were so excited as we talked about the possibilities,” Polly explains.
“No one was doing that in our town. We’d found our niche, an affordable program for families that offered a 30-minute circuit workout and an Exergame center, making exercise fun.”
Because Polly spent 13 years working with preschool-age kids and their moms as a volunteer for MOPS International, she felt confident as she stepped into the role of business owner. “MOPS gave me a place to experience being a leader. I gained confidence and received valuable training and resources that helps me today in so many ways,” she says.
“We look at our business as a ministry because we’re helping families become physically healthier, and at the same time, we’re able to talk about God,” Polly explains. Recently a man came in to work out with his daughter. He was a smoker and couldn’t finish the 30-minute circuit. Polly talked to him about his smoking. He admitted how hard it was for him to quit. She used this opportunity to talk to him about asking God for help. A week later when he came back, he had stopped – cold turkey. And after three months, he’s still smoke-free.
Some days running a business has its headaches, Polly says, but the difference she’s making in others lives is worth every minute of her time.
Jean Blackmer is the Publishing Manager for MOPS International and the author of “Boy-sterous Living: Celebrating Your Loud and Rowdy Life with Sons.” She lives in Colorado with her husband and their three boys.