James Bonavita, 25 & Sam Langer, 25
Longtime friends James Bonavita (left) and Sam Langer bought the first GYMGUYZ franchise—a Long Island-born, at-home personal training service—in March of 2014 and earned back their initial investment by May of that year. They did it the old-fashioned way: an aggressive guerilla marketing campaign touting their brand of personalized physical fitness by way of flyers at county malls and train stations, in-person introductions with local business owners, tables at bridal expos and trade shows, signs on lawns and at intersections, and a painted red van driving their message across Westchester. It paid off—today the duo has five trainers, 110 one-on-one clients in Westchester, plus an additional 15 corporate clients (Regeneron Pharmaceuticals and Phelps Memorial Hospital among them), and they’re on pace to double 2014 sales.
• Langer spends up to 10 hours a day training clients; Bonavita spends most of his time soliciting new business.
• Langer has a dual bachelor’s degree in finance and operations management from the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University and a personal training license from the National Academy of Sports Medicine; Bonavita earned his bachelor’s in communications arts from Coastal Carolina University (he transferred there from Sacred Heart University, where he played Division 1AA football).
• Says Langer about GYMGUYZ’ aggressive in-person marketing efforts: “Anyone can read an advertisement, but when you see someone face-to-face, and they see how passionate you are about what you do, they’re more likely to use your services.”
• Langer and Bonavita were the first franchisees, but according to Entrepreneur magazine, which listed GYMGUYZ on the list of “The 10 Types of Franchises to Watch in 2015,” there are now 17 franchises across the US (four of which are company-owned).