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The Great Franchisee: James Patterson, GYMGUYZ, Chicago

Patterson is leaving behind a 16 year career in communications to hop on the mobile fitness trend and help members of his community feel fit and healthy.

Chicago resident James Patterson is retiring from a leading communications agency after 16 years to open his own mobile fitness franchise with GYMGUYZ

As a fitness enthusiast who has completed Ironman Triathlons, Patterson is aiming to provide safe and accessible mobile fitness training during the COVID-19 and beyond. He started helping clients in January and is excited to continue helping those in his community fulfill their fitness goals.

1851 Franchise: Tell me your story – what did you do before franchising?

James Patterson: I am an advertising and marketing professional and have spent the last 15 years at Burrell Communications, most recently as SVP Group Account Director where I’ve led the Comcast & McDonald’s businesses. I will be retiring at the end of the year. I’ve lived in Chicago since 1990 and have three kids ages 27, 26 and 21. As a fitness enthusiast, I am a NASM-certified personal trainer and an Ironman triathlete. 

Like a lot of other people, once I had kids I started to get out of shape, and fitness was not a big part of my life during that time. It got to the point where I wanted to invest in my health and physical fitness. About 10 years ago, I went to the Y on the South Side of Chicago and had friends who were training for triathlons and marathons. As I spent more time around the gym community, I started to explore these types of activities. I’ve participated in triathlons from super sprints to Ironman competitions, which have been incredibly rewarding during my personal fitness journey. I became a fitness enthusiast and enrolled in a personal training program at Malcolm X College, where I developed a passion for helping others on their fitness journeys. Through this program, I had an internship with a high-end personal training gym that centered around injury prevention, health and wellness and goal-setting. I am thrilled to help Chicago residents achieve their fitness goals. Through my own experience, I understand how life events can deter fitness goals, and I hope to inspire others to believe that anything is possible if you put your mind to it. 

1851: How did you initially find out about franchising? 

Patterson: Through my work with McDonald’s at Burrell Communications, I’ve worked closely with McDonald’s owners and operators and have a strong understanding of how franchise systems work together. 

1851: Why did you pick franchising over starting your own business?

Patterson: The idea of opening my own brick-and-mortar gym was not something I was going to do. I do see fitness moving in a mobile direction and started looking at options that catered to mobile fitness. I knew that if I found the right franchise opportunity with a strong corporate leadership team, it would help share my love for fitness with others. 

1851: What types of brands did you look at?

Patterson: The idea really came about as COVID-19 hit back in March, and I started spending more time at home. I have fitness equipment at home which allowed me to stay fit, but I was curious about what other people were going to do. I saw the impact that COVID-19 had on conventional gyms and knew that mobile fitness options were going to skyrocket. I started to see ads about what kinds of fitness equipment people were buying and saw that many personal trainers were hosting classes online. I then received an ad about GYMGUYZ. I looked into the opportunity, saw there were ownership opportunities and started the discovery process. 

1851: Why did you pick GYMGUYZ? What excited you most about the potential?

Patterson: I saw they had franchise territories available in Chicago, which really peaked my interest. I had a conversation with Ray Reichard, GYMGUYZ’s vice president of franchise development and inquired about their model. I did my research, spoke to many other successful GYMGUYZ franchisees and heard nothing but great stories about the brand’s strong momentum. 

1851: What are your dreams with the business? What does the future look like?

Patterson: I want my business to become the best mobile fitness concept in my territory. There is a tremendous amount of opportunity within the Chicago market to help people achieve and exceed their fitness goals, and I can’t wait to play a role in that journey. We want to be strong community advocates and participate in local events once the world recovers from the pandemic.

1851: What value do you see your business providing to Chicago?

Patterson: Based on my own experience, I know there are a lot of people who have sedentary lifestyles and are waiting for someone to motivate them who has the empathy and expertise to help them achieve their goals. Now more than ever, there is a huge need for people to support others’ health and wellness goals amid COVID-19. I understand that not everyone wants to be a gym rat or bodybuilder, but by taking baby steps and including fitness in your everyday routine, positive change will come, and GYMGUYZ is excited to be a part of that journey. 

1851: What do you do in your personal time?

Patterson: Fitness is one of my biggest passions. I do enjoy spending time with my family. I am also a music lover, specifically jazz, hip-hop and classical music.