Josh York is the founder & CEO of GYMGUYZ, an in-home, mobile personal training franchise company headquartered in Plainview, NY. Since its inception in 2008, Josh has been valued for his hands-on leadership style growing the business and profitability to more than 10,000 clients, over 150 employees, and a fleet of vans in less than five years. Josh was awarded a Bachelor of Science degree in Business from Long Island University, Post and brings a deep working knowledge of exercise and fitness to the GYMGUYZ Company. While in college, Josh fulfilled his passion for exercise and fitness earning Personal Trainer Certifications from ISSA and IFA. He put those certifications to good use working in a variety of fitness clubs during his four years in college. Although Josh knew his ultimate career goal would be working in the health and fitness field, he accepted a job with a local marketing company when he completed his degree. He understood the importance of gaining practical experience before launching his own business. Finally, in 2008, Josh made the break and created GYMGUYZ, a brand that promotes healthy lifestyle through exercise and good nutrition. GYMGUYZ brings the experience of working out and maintaining a healthy lifestyle right to your front door, office building, local park, or setting of your choice. Today, we have a fleet of vans servicing clients in three countries. Josh continues to aim high with a goal of 500 franchises within the next five years. During his spare time, Josh is an avid ice hockey player, and was recently named an “Under 35” CEO. Josh resides on Long Island with his wife Stacy and sons Jake and Mikey.
How did the concept for GYMGUYZ come about?
I graduated from college and got a nine-to-five job in marketing. What I learned instantly is that the nine-to-five life wasn’t for me. Instead, I decided to refocus my career on my two passions: fitness and creating a great culture. I became a personal trainer but the hardest part of the job was getting my clients to overcome the excuses. One day, a client was running late to our session and said, “I wish you could just come to my house, but I don’t have any equipment.” So what did I do? I got a van and equipment, drove to her house, and the GYMGUYZ concept was born.
How was the first year in business?
Our business took off instantly because I had a clear vision in mind and I knew I wanted to franchise the concept and become the biggest fitness brand in the industry. The possibility of succeeding in that goal was clear when I had clients signed up within my first two weeks in business.
What was your marketing strategy?
I knew that all it took for someone to get interested in becoming a client was exposure to the concept. They needed to know that our business existed. I tried to get in front of anybody and everybody that I possibly could, ensuring that they knew who GYMGUYZ is and what it is that we do. That’s actually how I came up with the idea for our branded red vans. It’s something that our franchisees drive everywhere – to the grocery store, dinner, the movies – it’s a conversation starter.
How fast did the company grow during the first few years?
We’ve only been franchising for four years and we’re nearing our 200th territory, growing over 1,700% within the past three years alone.
How do you define success?
We look to do things very differently at GYMGUYZ. Each year, we create an anthem that we release before our conference with same key messaging in mind, our core values, which are Fun, Unity, Earnings, and Leadership. Success for me is defined by those four things.
What is the key to success?
The key to success goes hand in hand with how I define it. It’s how you align yourself with each of those values, holding true to them no matter what, that is vital in order to succeed.
What is the greatest lesson you’ve ever learned?
Entrepreneurship is a very tough game to play. If you choose to take the leap, you need to be ready and to be prepared for it. I wish I knew how crazy this journey is, but I learned how to adapt quickly.
What are some quotes that you live by?
“It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.” – Walt Disney
What are some of your favorite books?
Shoe Dog by Phil Knight.
Tell me about one of the toughest days you’ve had as an entrepreneur.
I had payroll due on a Friday and it was Thursday night. I took a look at my bank account and had negative $22,000. Somehow, I needed to figure out how to make $46,000 to pay my employees in less than 24 hours. I thought about going to the casino and gambling away my life savings, but instead, I called all of my clients and found a number of new customers. By offering sessions and hustling, I made more than $50,000 in one night.
When faced with adversity, what pushes you to keep moving forward?
Changing people’s lives – both on the entrepreneurial side and the lives of our clients.
What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs?
Be patient, consistent, and relentless. Don’t listen to the naysayers and believe in yourself.
This interview was conducted for research purposes by author Jason Navallo for his upcoming book, Underdog.
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