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Klein’s getting the max out of his business model

The MAX Challenge finds smaller gyms bring big followings

Bryan Klein, CEO and founder, The MAX Challenge.-(PHOTO BY AARON HOUSTON)

Bryan Klein knows firsthand how life’s challenges prevent people from prioritizing their health.

“Fifteen years ago, my pregnant wife spent six months in the hospital due to our child’s life being in jeopardy,” Klein said. “I gained well over 100 pounds during that time due to stress.”

The extra weight impacted him in more ways than one.

Klein felt this weight gain meant he wasn’t honoring his commitment to be the best parent he could be after the birth of his son.

And he felt his appearance was hurting his business, United Taekwondo Academy.

“The way I was displaying myself wasn’t in line with the fitness lifestyle I was trying to teach to others,” he said. “It took me over a year of joining the gym and hiring personal trainers and nutritionists to get back into good physical condition.”

Losing the weight cost him thousands of dollars every month — a financial burden Klein had trouble facing. He knew others would, too.

In 2011, he set out to change that paradigm.

“I started The MAX Challenge in Manalapan with a few hundred bucks,” he said. “It was as simple as having a logo and fliers made.”

After securing co-tenancy with his current martial arts academy, Klein got started.

He invited 32 people to enroll in the first MAX Challenge: A 10-week program, which combines varied yet structured cardio and strength workout regimens with focused nutritional programs and motivational doses of daily inspiration.

It costs $499.

The plan quickly caught on.

“In six months, we grew to 500 (members),” Klein said. “Within three years, we had sold 50 locations.

“Last year, we grew to 65 locations in five states with 10,000-plus members.”

A challenge for everyone
According to Bryan Klein, The MAX Challenge franchisees come from all walks of life.  
“We have housewives that want to get back into the workforce while adding value to their lives and communities; we have experienced retail managers who are looking for a new industry; and we even have executives from companies such as Johnson & Johnson that are looking for a change,” Klein said.
One thing his franchisees may be surprised to hear, however, is that Klein still gets jitters when he goes into meetings in which he is unsure of the outcome.
“I am not always 100 percent confident about new ideas, but the biggest thing in life is overcoming self-doubt,” Klein said. “It’s when you face your fears and march forward that you develop the confidence to act on your ideas regardless of how big and crazy they may sound.”

It helps that The MAX Challenge is one of the more easily attainable franchises.

Often located in a “B” class shopping center, MAX Transformation Centers typically operate within spaces as low as 2,000 to 3,000 square feet with an average of two employees each.

A new franchisee could expect to initially invest between $80,000 and $170,000, depending on rent, fit-out costs and real estate market conditions.

Compared to the $800,000-plus it can cost to franchise a big box concept such as Retro Fitness and Planet Fitness, or the $400,000-plus it can cost to franchise some of The MAX Challenge’s small group competitors such as Orangetheory Fitness, that’s a good deal.

“Big box gyms often need thousands of members just to keep the lights on,” Klein said. “Our franchisees need only a few hundred members in order to reach their financial goals.”

The MAX Challenge’s small footprint and limited equipment — such as free weights, medicine balls and standing heavy bags — help keep operating costs to a minimum and franchisee’s attention on its members.

While Klein found a 10-week program to help people get in shape, he realizes workout plans do not have a start and stop date.It’s why members can continue to participate for $99 a month.

“I flew out to California a few weeks ago to visit one of our centers,” Klein said. “I noticed that everyone in there was physically fit — one person had lost 50 pounds, another 70.

“They were there simply because they had become incredibly loyal to the brand that helped them break their habits and achieve their fitness goals.”

That kind of dedicated following has made The MAX Challenge into a multimillion-dollar company with over 200 employees.

With 47 locations sold in New Jersey alone, The MAX Challenge shows no sign of slowing down. In fact, sales for the popular workout increased by 189 percent last year.

“Small group training is definitely an emerging sector in the fitness industry, but our advantage is that we are going after a market that few else are,” Klein said. “We’re targeting members who have either never exercised before or haven’t exercised in the last five to 10 years.”

As well as specific regions — with additional locations in New York, Pennsylvania, California and Florida, The MAX Challenge is focused on exclusive growth along the Interstate 95 corridor in every state from Maine to Florida, along with northern California.

But Klein is most excited about developments in Jersey.

“We’re opening up in Pennington, Clifton, Secaucus, East Rutherford, Wayne, Fair Lawn, Mount Laurel, Scotch Plains, Madison, Somerset, Monroe, Middletown and Paramus this year,” he said.

E-mail to: megf@njbiz.com
On Twitter: @megfry3

Biz in brief
Company: The MAX Challenge
Executive: Bryan Klein, founder and CEO
Headquarters: Manalapan
Founded: 2011
Revenue: Between $5 million and $10 million
Employees: 200
One More Thing: A MAX Transformation Center is located within the Union County sheriff’s department building so that the squad can complete The MAX Challenge as part of its training.

It’s why members can continue to participate for $99 a month.

“I flew out to California a few weeks ago to visit one of our centers,” Klein said. “I noticed that everyone in there was physically fit — one person had lost 50 pounds, another 70.

“They were there simply because they had become incredibly loyal to the brand that helped them break their habits and achieve their fitness goals.”

That kind of dedicated following has made The MAX Challenge into a multimillion-dollar company with over 200 employees.

With 47 locations sold in New Jersey alone, The MAX Challenge shows no sign of slowing down. In fact, sales for the popular workout increased by 189 percent last year.

“Small group training is definitely an emerging sector in the fitness industry, but our advantage is that we are going after a market that few else are,” Klein said. “We’re targeting members who have either never exercised before or haven’t exercised in the last five to 10 years.”

As well as specific regions — with additional locations in New York, Pennsylvania, California and Florida, The MAX Challenge is focused on exclusive growth along the Interstate 95 corridor in every state from Maine to Florida, along with northern California.

But Klein is most excited about developments in Jersey.

“We’re opening up in Pennington, Clifton, Secaucus, East Rutherford, Wayne, Fair Lawn, Mount Laurel, Scotch Plains, Madison, Somerset, Monroe, Middletown and Paramus this year,” he said.

E-mail to: megf@njbiz.com
On Twitter: @megfry3

Meg Fry

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