Andrew Cruz knew his time as an active-duty U.S. Marine was coming to an end when he started pursuing entrepreneurial endeavors over the last several years. Like many Veterans in transition, he wanted to make the move from public service to civilian life as smooth for his family as possible. As a military recruiter in Southern California who guided young people through the stages to join the military, he knew he needed something meaningful, something that allowed him to continue impacting people’s lives.
Around the same time in 2015, Lauren Young says she was at rock bottom. The decorated high school athlete with a passion for pole vaulting was hit by a car while jogging with teammates in a Los Angeles suburb during her junior year, and the accident drastically changed her future. While she eventually recovered physically, the mental impact left her feeling adrift through much of her 20s. At 247 pounds by age 33, Young was eager to take back control of her life and her health.
Their journeys and goals are different, but ultimately the paths Young and Cruz took led them to The Camp Transformation Center, a California-based health and wellness franchise that has given them both the fulfilling sense of purpose they each craved.
“My job in the military was to guide young men and women through the process, from paperwork and planning to mental and physical evaluations and then through boot camp,” says Cruz. “That work was fulfilling because I knew I was playing a role in changing people’s lives. That’s where The Camp is similar to me. You support and cheer on the ones that see it through and enjoy a transformation. It’s rewarding to play a role in their journey.”
Prior to retiring this summer, Cruz began his business career in tandem with his military service. He ran an ATM business in local barbershops and a photo booth rental company. Having experienced the challenges of managing businesses independently, franchising appealed to him. He learned about The Camp from Co-Founder Sam Bakhtiar. The two became early-morning workout buddies in 2018.
“For me, it was that relationship with The Camp’s team and the great business model that ultimately encouraged me to sign franchise agreements,” says Cruz, who owns camps in Ontario Ranch, Laguna Hills, and Anaheim. “Franchising removes the guesswork of what to do and how to do it; you’re not reinventing the wheel.”
Founded in 2010, The Camp Transformation Center was born out of the realization that despite universal knowledge of how to lose weight — eat healthier and work out regularly — millions of people still struggle to get results. During an era of skyrocketing obesity, The Camp created a proven system to help this massively underserved audience achieve their goals.
“I have an opportunity to continue impacting people’s lives, and there’s broad appeal at our gyms,” adds Cruz. “From former athletes to people who have never stepped foot in a gym, we have a welcoming space for everyone.”
Young was one of those former athletes who found The Camp Transformation Center’s welcoming environment when she joined The Camp as a member at the Pasadena, California, gym in 2015.
“I was a broken person when I became a member at The Camp,” Young says. “People who know me now can’t imagine what I was like before. I’m so much happier. The mental impact is as profound as the physical transformation. So many great things happen when you take care of yourself. It allows you to help take care of others and guide people who are also ready to make a change.”
Now, as the franchise owner of The Camp in Parma, Ohio, Young is helping others enjoy the same life-changing transformation.
Home of the free “20-Pound Weight Loss Challenge,” The Camp Transformation Center’s flagship program consists of group training with dynamic interval workouts, nutrition, and supplement plans, highly qualified trainers, and a ton of positive emotional support. The Camp is a community of people who treat fellow members like family.
Young signed up for the 20-pound challenge and lost the first 20 pounds. She immediately signed up for a second challenge and shed 18 more pounds. Today, she’s 70 pounds down from her heaviest weight. With every pound lost, her passion for the program grew. She eventually became an employee at the Pasadena gym, first working the front desk, then as assistant director, then director. On a conference call with corporate one day, she was asked if she had interest in opening her own location.
Excited for a new challenge, Young jumped at the opportunity to move across the country and take over the corporate-owned location in Parma, Ohio, as a franchisee in 2018. She is helping the growing fitness franchise impact men and women nationwide with its unmatched system for changing lives.
“There’s a humanness that gets lost with most gym models,” says Young. “They don’t grasp human complexities and the need for connection. The Camp meets its members where they’re at in their fitness journey. We support the mental component of weight loss and prioritize a focus on nutrition education. Acknowledging individuality and focusing on a foundation of support is what makes The Camp different. People come here, and they never quit.”
Now transforming lives like Young’s for more than 10 years, The Camp Co-Founder Alejandra Font was ready for a fresh start herself when she and Bakhtiar opened the doors to their first gym.
As the busy mom of two young kids and coming off the heels of a stressful recession, Font was eager to focus on her own health and well-being but had no idea achieving her personal goals would eventually flourish into a fitness franchise that’s impacting lives and creating opportunities for entrepreneurs across the United States.
“The Camp Transformation Center has changed countless lives for the better, and those transformations have had a ripple effect from day one. Our members invite friends or loved ones to work out with them, or — like Lauren and Andrew — open their own gyms to help the broader community,” Font says. “Our franchisees are passionate and purposeful, and that accelerates our mission as a franchise.”