PHOTO: The Anytime Fitness Franklin team // Photo courtesy of Zacari Pennington
By REBEKAH JONES
The Penningtons have been invested in family businesses for years and in their most recent venture, they opened two Anytime Fitness gyms in the Franklin area.
The Pennington’s: Dean, Teda, Zacari and Olivia, operate two Anytime Fitness locations in Franklin. The first gym was purchased about three years ago and the second locations was constructed shortly after.
Zacari said his parents, Dean and Teda, owned and operated a family business for nearly 30 years in Michigan. After the opportunity arose to sell the business they moved to Franklin. Upon moving here, they still had a passion for running a close-knit organization and decided to go into business with their son and his wife.
“We decided that we’d like to work as a family… They [Dean and Teda] both come from a family business background and they’ve seen success in that,” Pennington said. “We’ve all been fortunate to work well together.”
Of their specific choice to own Anytime Fitness gyms Zacari said, “We’ve always been athletic, active, and kind of fitness junkies. We loved the authenticity of Anytime Fitness and quickly latched onto the brand.”
Anytime Fitness gyms were the first to break into the 24-hour market in the late 1990s and to this day ranks as the number one global franchise with over 3,700 gyms in 20 countries.
“Most gyms throughout the late 90s were seeing usage patterns that they hadn’t really built for… they were building oversized gyms with pools, racquetball courts, basketball courts,” Pennington said. “The majority of gym users… had fitness goals in mind and they had things they wanted to achieve. The things that got used the most were the fitness equipment and workout area.”
Anytime Fitness decided to capitalize on this, creating smaller, more focused workout areas with the added convenience of exercising whenever you want.
“People want to work out when they’re able to work out,” he said, “they don’t want to be shoehorned into a specific hour right before or right afterwork.”
Beyond the coveted feature of being open 24/7, the Anytime Fitness owners as well as employees pride themselves on being a convenience and a coaching gym. According to Pennington, when joining the gym, everyone is paired with a health coach and that coach will stay with them throughout the life of their membership; every step of the way.
“Our Health Coaches develop a custom program to help you achieve your unique goals. But we go one step further and help you uncover why those goals are important to you. We help find your motivation for a healthier life. This motivation is the fuel that will drive you when days become tough… We really walk with you through your fitness journey,” he said.
One thing that Pennington presses, is the importance of connection with clients outside of the gym, which is something that many gyms do not offer. The line of communication is always open between client and health coach through their custom Anytime Fitness app.
“If you’re at the grocery store and you have a question… Do I want brown rice or white rice, which is better for me today… Get on [the app], snap a pic, and send it to your coach and we’ll tell you right through the app,” he said.
Pennington said that the most rewarding part of the job is the results he sees in the clients at the gym.
“There aren’t many jobs that allow you to see life changes every day,” he said. “I get to see people come through who may have never been in a gym before, and then to see walls crumble as they achieve their fitness goals is extremely rewarding. Our top tier weight loss members are losing nearly 5 to 8 lbs a month – and doing it in a way that is safe and strengthens all parts of the body. I was blown away the other day when I checked-in with our top performing member and she had lost nearly 40 lbs in 5 months. This is real life change”
He said one of the aspects of the gym that he is so proud of is the “ability to connect with people outside of the gym.” He believes it is absolutely critical to achieving fitness goals.
As far as the future of their Anytime Fitness branches, Zacari said he sees opening several more locations in the coming years. He would like to expand further into Metro Nashville and the Middle Tennessee area, adding to the two existing gyms in Franklin.
And as far as the immediate future?
“We will have live group training in the new year,” he said.
According to Zacari, this group training will be unlike a typical gym session or class—it will be very intimate with 4-6 members in each group. There will be three different programs and each program will be open to people with all different backgrounds. These include Base: fundamentals training, Burn: cardio training, and Build: strength training. The intention with these small groups is to see bigger and better results faster due to the added accountability of a group.
Looking to join a gym? In the new year, from January 1-12, Anytime Fitness will have their “Join for $1” membership sale. New clients will be able to join for $1 and will have access to the Anytime Fitness mobile app, 3 free sessions with a personal trainer and access to the new live group training.
Franklin’s Anytime Fitness gyms are located at 4115 Mallory Lane and 400 Downs Boulevard. They are open 24/7. For more information on their gyms or memberships, visit the website, or call (615) 721-2949.