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The Great Franchisee: Kyle Retter, Fitness Premier, Georgia

We spoke to Retter who is opening a Fitness Premier location, a 24/7 club and a fast-growing fitness franchise operating in Illinois and Indiana, and now in Georgia.

As United States veterans, Kyle Retter and his wife, Maria, stay in shape. In fact, Retter can’t remember a time when he wasn’t in the gym. Military life kept Kyle and Maria apart for months at a time, but now they are raising a young family, and want to build a future together and bring something new and consistent to the fitness market in Savannah. 

1851 Franchise: Frame your personal story for us. What did you do before franchising, and how did you decide franchising made sense for you?

Kyle Retter: I’ve been in the gym since I was 16 years old — it’s somewhere I’ve always wanted to be. I was a member of the U.S. Air Force from 2006-2012 and became a contractor for the military, working on C-130J aircraft. I deployed three times with various units from the Hurlburt Field Air Force Base as a military contractor. I started a Technical Management degree in 2016 at Embry Riddle Aeronautical Worldwide, and that’s when I became intrigued by franchising. 

Our friends, Suzy and Cozmo Digiano, own The Shark Gym in Navarre, Florida, where we lived before moving to Georgia to be near family. I helped them get their IT business process in place and, while doing that, I would catch myself spending hours there just to be in that fitness atmosphere. I realized I missed the gym mindset and wanted that lifestyle.  

I was introduced to Fitness Premier via my IT company, RetterTEK, where we supported a few of their locations with Access Control and IT support.  As that relationship grew, I realized their team and franchising model were a perfect fit for my dream of owning a gym. I had always dreamt of owning a small gym controlled solely through technology. I thought it was innovative and cutting edge, but when I saw the way Fitness Premier operated and grew their gyms, I realized it’s really about being in relationships with people. 

Franchising made sense to me because I knew it would reduce my risk, and they already have processes in place which I could easily follow and evolve as an owner. I wanted to find a gym like The Shark Gym— one where I didn’t have to operate strictly “by the book”. Fitness Premier gives franchisees the freedom to own and operate the way they want to, and I knew after working with upper management and the relationship I had with the team (from the IT side) that they were the right choice for me. From a technological perspective, they held a proven model that was already established, and with their great management in place, I could see they were innovative and wanted to evolve their current technology to gain new revenue streams, improve customer relations and improve members’ access and safety in their gyms.

1851: What was your perception of franchising prior to becoming a franchisee, and what do you want people to know about franchising now that you are in it?

Retter: I didn’t want to be in franchising in the beginning. My IT business was very fulfilling to start. I liked creating a brand and logo and starting those customer relationships.  I knew it would take a lot to own a gym from scratch, and I wouldn’t have the time to do this alone.  After meeting the FP team, I knew their model and back-end support could help me streamline the process of owning a gym. The team that Jason has put in place is a really good fit for me. Their business model will make it less stressful and will streamline the business process when compared to starting from scratch. Their model allows the franchisees to focus on members and their retainment rather than taking months to develop processes and a whole business model from scratch. It’s a team I want to be a part of and that I want to help grow.   

1851: What makes you stand out as a business owner in your local community?

Retter: I hope my client relationships are what sets me apart. I’ve had customers change who they work with because my competitors' customer service was not up to their standards. I want people to know and see that I am an honest owner, and I don’t shy away from the interaction. I believe staying in communication with people is super important because I’ve experienced previous gyms where no one has taken time to get to know me, and that doesn’t make you feel valued.

1851: What made you pick this brand? What excites you most about this company?

Retter:I picked this brand because their main priority is to stay in touch with their customers. They are always asking, “How can we offer more? How can we accommodate better?” They want to make sure we’re in constant communication with our clients and follow up with them weekly and monthly. Fitness Premier also offers many services that set them apart from the “Mom and Pop” type gyms and even some other corporate franchise gyms.  I believe that they are always working to evolve themselves to stay ahead of competition. 

1851: What do you hope to achieve with your business? What are your plans for growth? 

Retter: I’d like to have success with this venture by opening my first gym by the end of this year and then focusing on putting a great team together to keep expanding the franchise throughout Georgia. It's going to be an adventure for our family for sure. My 10-year goal is to open 10 Fitness Premier gyms. I’d also like to be on the ever-evolving side of fitness tech for the FP team. 

1851: What is the one thing about your story you want us to know?

Retter: This whole journey I’m going on is for my family. My wife, Maria, and I were both in the military, and we've been apart for eight to 10 months at a time, so I want the entire family to be a part of this journey. Maria will be in charge of any childcare needs we have for the gyms, since she is certified for child development as well as for CPR. With her MBA and many years of experience, my brother's wife will help with business operations and management as we grow into multiple units. We won't be quitting our jobs as of yet, but someday we hope to! We have a nine-month-old baby, Jaxon, and our daughter Athena will be six in May.

1851: What advice do you have for other people thinking about becoming a franchise owner?

Retter: I highly recommend going with a brand like Fitness Premier. They have great management. Franchises are a really good fit if you don’t know everything about business — the process corporate will take you through is educational and helpful.

About Fitness Premier 24/7 Clubs:

Fitness Premier 24/7 Clubs is a fast-growing, 17-location, fitness concept that creates a community with its staff and guests. At Fitness Premier 24/7 clubs, some of the amenities include 24/7 Access, Hydromassage, Group exercise classes, supervised kids club, and training & nutrition programs. Backed by franchise executive, Jason Markowicz and his franchisee-focused corporate team, Fitness Premier differentiates itself with great people, culture, and systems compounded by a growth focus in strategic markets. To learn more about franchise opportunities, visit