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Franchisee Voices: Aaron Anthonsen of GYMGUYZ
Aaron Anthonsen was the first franchisee to bring GYMGUYZ to Georgia.

Aaron Anthonsen is the local entrepreneur bringing the first GYMGUYZ fitness franchise to Georgia. He’s a former research manager and Navy veteran who started this business to turn a life-long passion for fitness into a successful business.

Aaron’s passion for fitness started while serving in the military.  Aaron enlisted while still in high school, and gained an appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy where he graduated in 1999 with a BS in Systems Engineering. He was commissioned as an officer and after graduation became a Naval Aviator, flying Navy SEAHAWK (H-60) helicopters. Over the next 10 years he deployed and flew missions in support of OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM and other military operations, and was later assigned to test new developmental aircraft at Patuxent River, Maryland. During his time on active duty he was an avid runner, completing several marathons and countless shorter races.

After leaving active duty, Aaron and his family settled in Fayetteville, GA, and Aaron started a new job in Atlanta as an engineering research manager for SRI International, a silicon valley-based nonprofit research institute. He remained active in the Navy Reserve, and in 2012 was mobilized to the middle east as a unit commander. While there, his unit helped organize the 2012 Marine Corps Marathon FORWARD, a race for deployed troops that “shadows” the annual Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, DC.

After returning from that deployment, he wanted to start his own fitness business but wanted something truly innovative that could reach more people and provide more customized training than traditional gyms. While training with a group of friends for a “Tough Mudder” race, someone recommended he should start giving outdoor classes to train people for races. It was just a casual comment made during a run, but the idea stuck.  

Aaron researched personal trainers working outdoors, and couldn’t find anyone doing it in Georgia. He did, however, find an ambitious young startup called GYMGUYZ doing on-site personal training in Long Island, NY. When he stumbled across GYMGUYZ, and saw they were featured on The Street and Entrepreneur magazine (among others), Aaron contacted CEO Josh York and inquired about opportunities for bringing the GYMGUYZ model to Georgia.

Why did you decide you wanted to work with GYMGUYZ?
The culture at GYMGUYZ was a huge part of it for me. They’re an ambitious young startup and they’re constantly looking for ways to innovate. I also get a lot of reward by working with people one-on-one and the autonomy to do that outside of gym is great. All the workouts are tailored to each client and every location is different. With GUYMGUYZ, the only limit is your creativity.

What personal attributes will help you succeed as a business owner with GYMGUYZ?
I think how much you care is more important than how much you know when you’re working with clients. The military taught me a great deal about leading, motivating, and being able to adapt, and working in the research community taught me a lot about disciplined innovation, but I really think the most important attribute in this business is caring about your client’s success.

What are your development plans?
We plan on expanding to the surrounding areas and metro Atlanta, because I think there are a lot of people our services can help. There is a real need for mobile-based fitness that the market hasn’t met in the past.

Visit the International Franchise Association’s @OurFranchise website for more stories of passionate local franchise owners, employees and their communities.

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