The 24Seven Family Fitness & Tanning Story
24Seven Family Fitness & Tanning began with Eric Washington & Mark Eaton, who met in Dothan Alabama in the early 1990’s. Eric had been consulting and setting up different franchised gyms for a number of years and he was doing some work for the owner of a couple of fitness facilities in Dothan and Enterprise Alabama. While there he met Mark Eaton; who was working part time at those facilities and Flying helicopters full time for the army. The two hit it off immediately and became good friends.
Eric would often talk about his idea of opening 24hr fitness and tanning facilities. Eric would tell Mark how it would be so successful if it was just done correctly and they controlled their operation costs. Eric for years through his management and consulting opened many franchised facilities, realizing the biggest problem for most of these clubs were the high start up and operation costs. Eric knew these start up costs could be done for so much less capital and with less operation costs facility owners could move forward quickly to recoup their investment. They could become successful in half the time. Eric also felt the idea of including tanning with the membership would help to sell more memberships improving the facilities bottom line even faster while taking tanning clients from tanning salons.
Mark knew he loved the fitness business. When he finished his active duty he remained in the army national guard. While figuring out what he wanted to do next he recalled the words his father told him “Find what you enjoy doing then find a way to make a living at it”. With this in mind and all the talks of opening their own Fitness facility, Mark and Eric now realized that the crossing of their paths was what both of them needed to found what now is 24Seven Family Fitness & Tanning Centers!
The first 24Seven family fitness opened in early 2000. Their concept was well on the way to success. Eric and Mark were working on opening their next facility in late 2001, when the tragedy of September 11, 2001 occurred. The two decided to hold off and see what was going to happen with the economy. To their amazement they ended up doing even better! People were not traveling and not spending as freely on big ticket items, but wanting to still do something and to relieve stress these people turned to the gym which was more affordable for them. So now Eric and Mark committed to their next facility at the beginning of 2003. But before it could open Mark was called to active duty to serve in Afghanistan. During his final months Mark was involved in a combat air assault that resulted in a serious back injury. He has had multiple surgeries and credits his recovery to working out and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
While deployed Eric continued to grow the Brand and to date they have 14 locations. All of their corporate locations are debt free and as they keep expanding they plan for the franchisees to own and operate the vast majority of their stores.
“Our goal is to share are knowledge and proven concept to others on how to open and maintain a successful 24Seven Family Fitness & Tanning Center!”
This is only the beginning of the story for us with so many untapped markets available, let us help you begin your story today.
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