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Fitness Premier 24/7 Clubs Turns Athletes into Entrepreneurs

With the discipline and collaborative skills developed through sports, athletes successfully leverage the fitness franchise’s model to build fulfilling careers.

By Morgan Wood1851 Franchise Contributor
SPONSOREDUpdated 4:16PM 10/30/23

With 19 operating clubs and countless athletes in the system, Fitness Premier 24/7 Clubs has proven to be a strong opportunity for former athletes. While a gym or fitness concept seems like a natural choice for a franchise for athletes due to the continued connection to physical fitness, Fitness Premier 24/7 Clubs finds additional value in the skills that many athletes develop over the course of their time in team sports.

“We find that former athletes have the intangibles that we look for in great teammates,” said Jason Markowicz, CEO of Fitness Premier 24/7 Clubs. “They know how to win, and they know how to lose and get back up. Athletes can communicate well and know how to make sacrifices for the sake of the end goal. When we think about what teamwork should look like within our system, former athletes consistently shine through as prime examples.”

In an emerging franchise system, it is vital that franchisees are able to collaborate with each other, club-level staff and members of the franchise leadership team. As the brand grows and adapts, entrepreneurs must have the grit and determination to grow their own location while also creating space to lead and be led in the context of the larger system.

Many of Fitness Premier 24/7 Clubs’ most successful owners and team members have been able to reach their goals by leveraging these skills and a willingness to be coached. Josh Hettiger, COO and a franchisee; Alexis Knake, a multi-unit operator; and Keegan Mraz, a franchisee, are all prime examples of athletes who were drawn to Fitness Premier 24/7 Clubs at the club level and quickly showed potential to grow into ownership roles.

Discipline and Commitment to Grow the Business

“As an athlete, if you want to get on the field, a lot of times, you have to take it upon yourself to do more than everyone else, and this translates well to business — especially in the first few years of ownership” said Hettiger. “You have to be willing to show up even when you don’t want to. Many people are not able to handle that at a young age, but learning that skill through athletics sets you up for success. Myself, Rick [King], Jason [Markowicz], Lexi [Knake]... everybody got into the business in their 20s and has been able to succeed because we had already developed those crucial skills.”

Franchising offers a strong model and support systems, but with any concept, local units are not guaranteed to succeed just because they have leveraged recognized branding and are part of a larger system. The franchisee’s commitment to their business and willingness to consistently adapt and overcome is just as important. This holds true for the business-specific aspects of ownership, but Mraz explained that he sees great benefits from his overarching ability to demonstrate commitment.

“Showing up every day, no matter how busy my schedule is, and still getting in my planned workout is huge,” he said. “Even if I have to wake up at 4 a.m. to do it, I make it happen. I think that sets a huge example for my staff and the members because that’s something I always talk about. If we can’t find time in our own schedules to reach our goals, fitness-related or otherwise, how are we going to help others do it?”

Demonstrating this leadership to club-level team members specifically allows athletes-turned-owners to drive a great member experience while ensuring the teamwork aspect of the Fitness Premier 24/7 Clubs system is baked into as many processes as possible.

Teamwork and Collaboration Allow Franchisees to Respond to Varied Demands

“In athletics, you start to learn what it means to have teammates. As you grow up, those teammates just become co-workers,” explained Knake. “It’s really hard to try to do everything by yourself in this industry, so you have to rely on the people that are around you. That’s one of the biggest benefits of having a background in athletics; you learn those basic people skills at a really young age, and you’re able to quickly understand what it looks like to have good teamwork and be a leader. Those skills stick with you and can be applied in adult life.”

Ongoing collaboration within the club and throughout the entire system makes owners more likely to succeed, and athletes who transition into ownership have both a well-established understanding of just how important this aspect of the business is as well as the soft skills necessary to really drive connection and collaboration among other team members.

“When it comes down to encouraging a team of people to buy into our mission, whether that’s members or employees, athletes have the experience and intangible skills that allow them to draw a crowd,” added Markowicz.

“A lot of the leadership skills that I learned from my coaches when I was younger, including servant leadership and ‘practice what you preach’ has transferred directly from sports to what I do now,” said Mraz.

How Fitness Premier 24/7 Clubs Serves Ambitious Athletes

Fitness Premier 24/7 Clubs offers franchising opportunities for athletes and is also excited to welcome former athletes to the system as operations partners and general managers.

“We find that a lot of former athletes gravitate towards us because we’re a fitness and wellness concept, and that’s what they’re used to,” said Markowicz. “We find that they build a passion and deep habit for exercise. They’ve seen the benefits of their sport firsthand, and that enables them to believe in our mission on a deeper level.”

Hettiger explained that, whether they’re pursuing ownership or a leadership role with Fitness Premier 24/7 Clubs, former athletes should understand that they already have the skills necessary to succeed with the franchise. 

“You have already excelled in time management, working with a team, meeting deadlines and hitting goals,” he said. “A lot of athletes share the dream; don’t limit yourself. Find a company that offers pathways to ownership and go for it. It’s going to be hard, but Fitness Premier rewards the work ethic and reinvests in you if you prove yourself.”

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