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From Employee to Franchisee: Fitness Premier 24/7 Clubs' Franchisees Reflect on Their Success With the Brand

The fast-growing fitness franchise has a stellar record of converting employees into franchise owners.

By 1851 Staff1851 Staff Contributions
Updated 5:17PM 06/01/21

Fitness Premier 24/7 Clubs, the 13-unit fitness franchise that’s taking over small towns in Illinois and Indiana, has a history of turning its employees into franchisees, and now the thriving owner-operators have become the brand’s best advocates. 

Emily Schunke, for example, works in the franchise’s marketing department and also owns two fitness centers in Champaign and Mahomet, Illinois. 

“The second I walked into the Fitness Premier office, I knew I wanted to work for them,” said Schunke. Little did she know, she wouldn’t just work with the corporate team, but she would also become a peer when she went on to open her own locations. “I had an interview with Jason [Markowicz, CEO of Fitness Premier]. He was very confident in his vision, and he instilled that confidence in other people. He knows where he wants to be. There were so many obstacles that could have prevented him from reaching his goals, but he pushed through. When you’ve got that leadership and an equally inspiring staff around you, you feel secure.”

Schunke’s husband, Joshua, had held a position at a large corporate health fitness center before but quickly fell in love with what Fitness Premier 24/7 Clubs was doing in smaller towns across Illinois.

“The towns where Fitness Premier 24/7 Clubs are located have a population of roughly 6,000 to 12,000 people. I think the biggest thing with the brand is that it becomes a part of the communities,” he said. “I think it’s a great business model. They have 13 locations right now, and I am looking to maybe someday own 13 locations myself. Fitness Premier started with a focus on really owning your 24/7 club and building community. You either interact with people face-to-face, or it’s all faceless. That’s the whole reason why I bought in. I wanted to feel like I had that connection to my business.”

Fitness Premier’s Franchisee Focus 

Markowicz succeeds at forming such a franchisee-focused organization because he has been a franchisee that suffered setbacks. Markowicz owned a series of Massage Envy franchises but sold his stores after feeling left behind by the brand’s leaders. Now, he’s more focused than ever on helping those around him become business owners. 

“Hands down, what separates us from other franchises is the willingness of our corporate team to help us, said Samantha Gorman, who owns a club in Monee, Illinois. Jason would pick up the phone anytime I’d call him. He focuses on the growth development of our team. He’s always made a point of being there for us and offering advice. When he first approached me about the opportunity, I felt really confident.”

The fitness industry is full of passionate people who excel at leading workouts or managing a club, but Fitness Premier brings together the business and franchising know-how to support these people to pursue their dreams.

“This was my club before I ever bought it,” Tara Juzeszyn, owner of the Beecher, Illinois club said. Juzeszyn had been working at her fitness center for years before she came on as a franchisee, and Markowicz took notice of her talent and energy. “I was emotionally invested in the club and the people here. Our fitness centers are a home away from home for a lot of people. There’s a feeling of family here.”

For Juzeszyn, becoming a franchisee just affirmed that feeling of ownership and belonging she had felt long before. 

Fitness Premier’s Leaders View Franchising As Community Building

“Our model is all about being a resource for the community and being there to help people reach their goals,” said Rick King, the brand’s VP and also a multi-unit owner. “We knew that we had a product and a model that worked. We knew it worked well in smaller markets but could also compete in larger markets too where there are other big fitness concepts.”

Looking back at each franchisee’s defining moment when they decided to franchise with Fitness Premier 24/7 Clubs, the result becomes clear: Fitness Premier 24/7 Clubs makes everyone from customers to employees to franchisees feel like they’re in the inner circle. 

As the brand hopes to grow across the region, now is the time to get in on the ground floor of the growing brand and become part of the Fitness Premier 24/7 Clubs community.

“People may say we’re doing too much to help our franchisees, but I wish we could do more,” said King. “We took a perspective early on in deciding to franchise the business that we want this to work. We want our franchisees to be profitable and successful. We’d rather have 10-20 franchisees with multiple units vs. 100 franchisees who are not as invested.”

About Fit For You Franchising

Fit For You Franchising is a franchisee-first franchisor and franchisee consultancy. It is the franchisor behind low-cost group-fitness franchise fitWAVE as well as Fitness Premier 24/7 Clubs, a larger-box fitness brand. As a franchisee consultancy, Fit For You offers guidance for future franchisees on finding the best fit for their personal and financial goals. Fit For You is run by Jason Markowicz, a former multi-unit franchise owner of Massage Envy and current developer of Prose Nails, a membership-based nail salon. For more information, visit