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The Great Franchisee: Matthew Brandal, GYMGUYZ, Phoenix

The Chicago expat is bringing in-home and virtual training options to Southwest Valley residents.

Originally from the Chicago suburbs, Matthew Brandal moved to Phoenix with his wife a year ago in pursuit of warmer weather and easy access to the Chicago Cubs’ spring training games. Until now, Brandal has led a corporate career in a variety of sales, marketing and product management roles. 

Now, Brandal has signed on to franchise with GYMGUYZ and opened his own mobile gym in Southwest Valley.  

Brandal always knew he wanted to own his own business, and after reaching out to a couple of franchise consultants he decided GYMGUYZ was the perfect fit for his community. Brandal hopes to cater to Phoenix residents of all ages and plans to offer virtual training options to those who are hesitant to invite trainers into their homes.

1851 Franchise: Tell us your story — what did you do before franchising?

Matthew Brandal: I was born and raised in Streamwood, IL, a suburb of Chicago. I spent 36 years in Illinois and only moved to Phoenix a year ago. My wife and I are huge Cubs fans and used to come out to Phoenix for spring training. We fell in love in the area and we were happy to have the opportunity to get out of Illinois.

I went to Northern Illinois University for marketing. There, I completed their business sales program as part of the marketing curriculum. My first job was with Fastenal as an assistant general manager. After some time I ended up running two branches for them. In 2008 — after the market crash — I was looking for a new position and took an account executive position with Tri Star Metals. I was there for 12 years in a variety of positions including trade show coordinator, sales and product management. I ran their LinkedIn page and marketing, etc. I had a taste of everything.

I transferred out to Phoenix last July with Tri Star Metals, then was unfortunately laid off due to COVID-19 in April. My wife is a full-time nurse practitioner. She’ll be working full time to support our family while I get things up and running.

1851: How did you initially find out about franchising? 

Brandal: I’ve always wanted to own my own business. I wanted to open my own restaurant but it was too much time and too many weekends, which meant I wouldn’t have time to be with my family. I looked around at other positions first but wasn’t finding much that I was interested in, or had the background for. All this prompted me to reach out to a franchise consultant; I was actually working with two at the time. They came back with some work from home options and GYMGUYZ fell into place.

1851: Why did you choose to franchise with GYMGUYZ?

Brandal: I have hereditary disc degeneration in my lower back and neck and suffer from inflammation/osteoarthritis. I switched to a plant-based diet late last year and have seen vast improvements both physically and mentally. I look forward to helping others in regard to core strengthening, flexibility and nutritional advice.

I’ve been influenced by having a six-year-old and a three-year-old and I would like to provide customized fitness programs/camps for individual children, teens and college students, as well as small group training/classes for neighborhoods, large families or private preschools/daycare facilities. Ideally my trainers could work with student-athletes, too, while they are restricted to homeschooling and sports are canceled because of COVID-19.

The corporate wellness program options are another avenue I want to pursue. My trainers would be able to go to local offices and production facilities or offer home-based employees the option to come to their home. The convenience and accountability factors are unique to the brand.

1851: Why did you choose to go into franchising over starting your own business?

Brandal: I wanted a set business model, culture and so forth. My wife and I have always been into sports and fitness for the most part, so GYMGUYZ was somewhat familiar territory. The corporate culture was a good fit for my personality and business background. My old company was also very similar to franchising, they gave us the opportunity to run our own business under a corporate shell. They would check in on me on a monthly basis, but it was up to me how successful I would be.

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

Brandal: Not sure yet — we’ll see. I need this first year to get up and running and after that I would be open to expanding. 

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

Brandal: The virtual gym option will be a winner. With brick-and-mortar gyms in Phoenix still being closed, this was a great option for the market. We’re bringing a service to the customer. We also offer virtual training for potential customers who are hesitant about people coming in their homes. 

With there being a high senior and retired population here around Phoenix, I look forward to being able to help them become more active both within their home during the pandemic as well as beyond it.