FROM ESPN TO BECOMING THE OWNER OF GYMGUYZ WESTCHESTER: THE REMARKABLE STORY OF SAM LANGER
Sam Langer is the owner and lead trainer of GYMGUYZ Westchester. He earned his personal training certification from the National Academy of Sports Medicine and has been training for several years. Before signing on as the first GYMGUYZ franchisee Sam earned his Bachelors of Science from Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business with degrees in Finance and Operations Management.
In this interview, Sam shares with Yinka Brand what makes GYMGUYZ different, and how he became so successful in a short period of time.
Can you please introduce yourself to the Under35CEO community?
My name is Sam Langer and I have been the owner of GYMGUYZ Westchester for about nine months now. I graduated from Indiana University in 2012 with degrees in finance and operations management. From there, I eventually secured a full-time job at ESPN in their New York office. Based on that experience, I realized it was time to pursue a career I was passionate about and didn’t want to waste too much time. At the ripe age of 23, I became my own boss.
Tell us, how did you become the first GYMGUYZ franchisee?
CEO Josh York had just started franchising a few months before my parents met him through sheer happenstance. I loved the business model and especially loved the idea of in-home personal training. Being someone who had a corporate job in the city, worked many hours with a long commute, and didn’t have time to go to the gym after work, the system made sense.
How exactly did you meet Josh York, the CEO and founder of GYMGUYZ?
My parents ran into Josh and his wife while vacationing. My father is a business owner, so he and Josh got along really well and started talking shop. My parents knew of my professional situation and my overall unhappiness with the corporate lifestyle. Coupled with my passion for fitness, my dad quickly got me on the phone with Josh. I was intrigued by what he was doing and how successful he was at it. From that moment in late December of 2013, it only took three months for us to start operating in Westchester.
Great! How old are you now?
I am 24 years old.
How does GYMGUYZ help you differentiate yourself from your competitors?
At GYMGUYZ, we are known for our exceptional quality of personal trainers and our customer service. To start, our trainers have many years of experience working with clients with any sort of condition at any age.
When it comes to our customer service, I am personally available 24-hours-a-day, 7-days-a-week if a client has a question about anything. This is one thing that really separates us from some of the bigger gyms you see in the area. I have heard many clients come from these gyms and say that they have been accidentally charged without authorization and trying to speak to someone in customer service is nearly impossible.
The main differentiator is having a name brand like GYMGUYZ behind us. Most in-home personal trainers are just independent trainers that go around to client’s homes. I think people feel much more comfortable when trainers are affiliated with a brand name with testimonials from other people who have had great success utilizing the service.
After you graduated from college, you worked as a Projects Sports Planner at ESPN. Can you tell us a bit more about your days at ESPN and why you left the company to start GYMGUYZ Westchester?
At ESPN, I oversaw commercial inventory for a few of ESPN and ESPN2’s main sporting events like baseball and college basketball. Landing a job there was an incredible accomplishment, but I always felt there was something missing. I wasn’t incredibly passionate about what I was doing, and I have always felt that if I was going to spend a good portion of my life working, it was going to be doing something I loved.
Since I was still young, I decided that if I was going to make a change, now was the time. I bought into the GYMGUYZ franchise, hit the ground running with the help of everyone around me and haven’t looked back since.
Why are you so passionate about health and fitness?
Staying healthy and fit is an important part of staying alive and feeling good. With obesity being such a big problem in the United States, and with many health problems stemming from it, it gives me a chance to help people and essentially save their lives.
I personally love working out because it takes you away from the everyday stuff you have to deal with— and for that time—it allows your mind to be free. It also encourages a sense of community; my friends and family love having a support system to discuss wellness.
If someone was interested in owning a franchise, what questions should they be asking?
What are the best ways to market your brand?
Who else has helped you get where you are now?
What type of time commitment does something like this entail?
How much capital did you put down to have to open this?
Did you require large up-front investment to own GYMGUYZ franchise?
No, not nearly as much as it would cost to open a brick-and-mortar location. There are minimal overhead costs, the biggest being the van to haul equipment in.
What are the biggest advantages GYMGUYZ gives you in your business?
A focus on customer service, a recognized name and a turn-key operation that is scalable and able to grow quickly in the right, calculated manner have helped me to become phenomenally successful in such a short period of time.
Tell us, how profitable is your business now?
We were in the black and recouped all the initial startup costs by the fourth or fifth month.
What’s your thought about Under35CEO?
I love the concept of being able to recognize hard working and successful young adults, and it really gets names out there of ambitious people who can be “the next big thing.”
Do you have any advice for anyone looking forward to owning a franchise?
Be passionate about everything you do because if you’re not, you will never reach a high level of success. Never, ever, stop. Being a business owner requires 24-7 around the clock attention. That means if it’s the weekend and you get a call at 10 p.m. about a client requiring services, you pick up your phone. If you don’t, they can happily take their business elsewhere.
Are you a young entrepreneur under the age of 35 with an interesting story of success (or failure)? If yes, then the Under35CEO community has something to learn from you.
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