Never one to make excuses for her circumstances, Alejandra identified the adversity as an opportunity to transform her fitness hobby and side hustle into a career. With just one year of part-time personal training experience under her belt, she pitched the idea of opening a gym to Luis.
“While I loved that one-on-one connection with the clients and feeling like I was making a difference in their lives, I knew I wanted to do it on a larger scale,” Alejandra recalls. “I wanted to make a larger impact than training one person at a time. I wanted to do group training. I figured I might have a few locations eventually; I never imagined we’d grow to become a franchise with locations nationwide.”
Alejandra approached the couple’s longtime friend, a veteran fitness entrepreneur, Sam Bakhtiar. They joined forces, and in late 2010, opened the doors of the first Camp Transformation Center in Chino, California. In the beginning, Alejandra focused on day-to-day of the business while Sam led the marketing efforts. About a year later, Luis joined the business full-time.
As someone who struggled with his weight and yo-yo dieting for most of his life, Luis brought a unique perspective to the company that helped them develop their secret sauce. It’s a system he worked on with Sam’s guidance that allowed him to drop 50 pounds and finally lead the healthy lifestyle he desired.
“Exercise is a small piece of the puzzle to losing weight and keeping it off,” Luis says. “The physical component is only about a third of it. Nutrition is also important. Then, there’s the mental component – the accountability and support — that’s the toughest ingredient to get right. Tapping into people’s emotions and creating a space where everyone feels welcome, from beginners struggling with obesity to advanced athletes, is really where The Camp differentiates itself.”
Ron Poteet joined The Camp in 2019. Since then, he’s lost 100 pounds.
Together, Alejandra, Luis, and Sam developed an incomparable fitness community and proven weight loss system that has transformed countless lives at more than 110 gyms. With 30 additional locations in development, The Camp Transformation Center continues to rapidly expand its footprint across the United States.
Building an Accepting Culture That Transforms Lives
It is common for people who join The Camp Transformation Center to shed dozens of pounds, and the results are often attributed to the free “20-Pound Weight Loss Challenge.” The Camp’s flagship program requires a $497 down payment that’s refunded if the participant loses 20 pounds during the six-week challenge.
“By the end of the challenge, participants are experiencing the waterfall effect of weight loss,” Alejandra says. “Their mood is improved. They receive better bills of health from the doctor. They feel more confident in their daily life. The benefits are endless. The Camp becomes a lifestyle. On average about 96% of the challengers refuse a refund, opting instead of applying it towards a yearly membership. They get their $497 back, but then become members of The Camp and move onto new challenges.”
The down payment keeps new members accountable, but the culture at the gym is what keeps an often-discouraged population returning for years. The Camp Transformation Center recognizes that despite universal knowledge of how to lose weight — eat healthier and work out regularly — millions of people struggle to get results. During an era of skyrocketing obesity, The Camp created a four-tiered approach to help this massively underserved audience achieve their goals.
“It starts with curated experiences,” Luis says. “Those experiences include our tradition to ‘Celebrate Every Pound Lost.’ Members and coaches cheer each other on during weekly weigh-ins. We add that personal touch of wearing nametags and calling each other by name. There’s also ‘Core Closers,’ that encourage daily communication. Coaches ask members to share on ‘Motivational Monday’ or ‘Non-Scale Victory Tuesday,’ and so on.”
Those experiences organically lead to the second tier, emotions. From tears of joy to the pride of achieving a long-sought-after goal, The Camp is an emotional place. Experiences and emotions combine to form memories. Experiences, emotions, and memories combine to create the fourth tier, a friendly community with a culture like no other gym.
Jordan Riegsecker joined The Camp in 2020. Since then, she’s lost 105 pounds.
Replicating a Proven Process: Franchising The Camp
According to the National Institutes of Health, 42% of United States adults are actively trying to lose weight. Demand for weight loss services is widespread. Entrepreneurs in this space enjoy the benefits of broad appeal, especially for fitness concepts with a track record for results.
Catia Morgan, Chief Operations Officer for The Camp, has watched the franchise’s brand awareness grow with each new location, and she says members are often the best advertisers for new gyms.
“A membership-based revenue model is always attractive to franchise candidates,” says Catia, who has more than 20 years of franchising experience. “But The Camp takes member loyalty to a new level. Members enjoy incredible results, and they become brand ambassadors. They bring their loved ones and friends, who also get hooked. To call this a franchise with reliable revenue streams is an understatement. People join The Camp, and they don’t leave; they multiply.”
Perhaps no group of individuals knows that better than The Camp’s current franchisees. Gia Smith, for example, owns five gyms in California and Arizona. The former track runner says she was in a funk after moving to California from the east coast for a job in 2012. She joined The Camp in Modesto to get her health back on track. She became so passionate about the gym’s mission as a member that she decided to make a bigger investment.
“I did the 20-pound challenge to discipline myself and get back in shape, but I made friends and became obsessed,” Gia says. “I lost the weight and got healthier and then asked myself, ‘Now what?’ I knew it was time to help others, and I’ve grown from one gym to five locations that have supported me financially while transforming lives. It is indescribably rewarding to be part of a business with purpose.”