Walking into the Anytime Fitness gym on 3170 Vista Boulevard, one is greeted by an energetic friendly staff and a wide array of fitness equipment, clean and organized. Owners Brandon and Amber Borden are milling around, chatting with members and employees and facilitating a fun, positive atmosphere along with a true sense of belonging.
While the Bordens new fitness venture was off to a rough start 10 years ago, it was their unique approach to the fitness sector that has allowed them to thrive. Now, a decade after they opened their first gym on Vista Boulevard, they have three more locations in the Reno-Sparks area and will most likely open another one in Northern Nevada at the end of 2020 to meet the demand.
What makes their 10-year anniversary bittersweet was everything that the couple has been through to get to where they are today, especially launching the business during the recession. When the Bordens opened the doors to their first Anytime Fitness gym on Independence Day 2009, it was off to a rough start.
“It was very slow on July 4, I don’t remember a single person that came in,” Brandon says. However, they did manage to sell 86 memberships in a pre-sale event that helped them get their start.
“We were living in Sparks and at the time the building sat vacant and we thought it was the perfect location being on Vista, one of the busiest streets here,” Brandon says. “We’ve been in fitness our entire lives, and the opportunity presented itself to open our own gym,” he adds, as Amber notes that they originally met at another fitness center in town. But with paying Anytime Fitness territory fees and trying to keep their personal lives in an unstable economy, the couple struggled to make ends meet.
“When we were first starting, the plan was for me to work my other job full time and Brandon would run the gym, but then a month after opening – and during the recession – I lost my job. We maxed out credit cards, had just bought a house, had a baby. We had no choice but to make this work. We were eating a lot of top ramen, mac n’ cheese, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches,” Amber says.
“We had no money, no credit. We were here all the time,” Brandon adds.
Fortunately, the banks were backed up on trying to fix the housing bubble which bought some time for the Bordens to pay off their debt.
“At any given time, we thought we’d go home and see a foreclosure notice on our door,” Brandon says.
Therefore, Brandon and Amber knew that they had to do whatever it took to give their 86 members the best gym experience they’ve ever had in hopes that they would tell their friends, and it worked. The members appreciated the personal touch and told their friends, then the gym started to grow through word of mouth.
Their passion and personal service even allowed them to open three more gyms in the Reno-Sparks area and they are all doing well. In fact, the Sparks location was named one of the top 20 best performing Anytime Fitness gyms in the world out of 4,500 locations spread across six continents.
So, what is their secret to success?
“We were just so focused on the culture and making it the place to go and hiring friendly staff,” Amber says. “You know that show Cheers where everybody knows your name? That’s us. We’re a warm, friendly, safe place to come. If you let us, we’re going to know a lot about you. We make it personal, we know everyone’s name, what their goals are, where they’re going on vacation. We make it comfortable and fun,” she adds.
“This is a community. Gyms are intimidating for a lot of people, so we knew we needed to do something different. Our goal is to get everyone to look forward to coming here, making it the highlight of their day. We know that the more they come, then they’re going to start seeing results and want them to continue coming back,” Brandon says.
“A lot of gyms are focused on sales, but we’re here for the people,” says Amber.
One member even lost 120 pounds from going to Anytime Fitness. “It literally saved his life; this is a sanctuary for him. Now he’s our club manager,” Amber says.
“The majority of our team are former members,” Brandon adds.
While opening more gyms has forced the couple to reestablish their roles in the business and give up the reins a bit, they truly enjoy making a difference in their employees’ and members’ lives.
“To directly save someone’s life… hundreds of people throughout the years have come to thank us, for overcoming diabetes, helping them be their best selves. It’s a pretty cool position to be in to have that kind of impact on people,” Brandon says.
“It’s one hundred percent the people who motivate us,” Amber says.