SOLDIERFIT: Building the American Dream with Military Inspired Fitness Franchise

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VETERANS IN FRANCHISING COVER STORY DECEMBER 2015

There are those who would have you believe that the American dream is dead, or, at the very least, on life support.

But two young entrepreneurs in Maryland know that the dream of America still beats strong. They aim to use their fitness franchise company, SOLDIERFIT – which has grown to be something so much more than a workout facility – to remind their fellow Americans just how great that dream is.

SOLDIERFIT founders Danny Farrar and Dave Posin met while working at a local fitness chain in Maryland. Posin was a fresh college graduate where he majored in business and wreaked havoc on the football field. Farrar was fresh out of his first tour in the Army where he served as an infantry paratrooper and in the “Old Guard.”

The two founders are the quintessential business odd couple. Farrar is covered in tattoos, rides a Harley, and loves being in the country. Posin is a nice, quiet Jewish boy from Potomac. Regardless of what their differences may be, the bond that holds them together is stronger than any of that.

“What makes us such a great team is that at our core we both want to do the exact same thing,” Farrar says during an interview from SOLDIERFIT’s Gaithersburg, Maryland, headquarters. “Simply put, Dave and I want to help people.”

It all started with Posin helping Farrar first. Farrar came in to the friendship with a bag of emotions. He was adopted, molested as kid, barely graduated high school and enrolled in the Army shortly thereafter. He took the first team into the Pentagon on 9/11 to remove remains, and, later, participated in a combat tour in Iraq. Like so many other veterans, Farrar struggled with the jarring transition to civilian life. In 2007, he was fired from his sales position while Posin was promoted to general manager of the health club he worked at. The emotional struggle of losing his job almost became too much for Farrar; he ended up homeless and eventually attempted suicide. Who knows if that’s where his story would have ended if not for Posin.

Instead of turning away from his friend, Posin offered Farrar a helping hand. He would call around and find couches for his homeless friend to crash on until they were finally able to find someone to take Farrar on as a roommate. Meanwhile, the two of them began developing a concept called SOLDIERFIT, a military inspired fitness training program to help people feel confident, build character, create camaraderie – all while getting into shape. They were renting space in gyms, making ends meet. Still, Farrar had his demons to battle and he convinced his friend to start Mixed Martial Arts training with him at Evolve Academy in Gaithersburg. That fateful decision would lead them into an opportunity of a lifetime.

Posin and Farrar competed in an MMA fight on the same night. Posin would go on to win his fight handedly, but Farrar was matched up with a gentleman who lied about his experience. Even though the coaches advised him not to take the fight, he did and was beat from pillar to post by the much better fighter. However, with all those he loved in attendance, Farrar refused to quit and continued fighting. In the end, the tide turned and he won the fight by a rear-naked choke. Afterwards, Master Mike Moses, owner of Evolve Academy, approached Farrar and Posin saying: ‘You won’t quit. How would you like to bring your program into my facility?’ And with that, SOLDIERFIT was truly born.

Moses opened his facility to the duo and they had an epiphany: Why not charge a low monthly rate, offer unlimited access to classes, and multiply the member experience and engagement. Many didn’t share their vision, going as far as laughing in their face when SOLDIERFIT started. Many thought they wouldn’t be able to make enough money to be profitable – but no one is laughing now.

SOLDIERFIT exploded in popularity. To put it into perspective, in 2011, Farrar and Posin had one sublet location, 30 classes per month and only 13 members. Today, they boast three standalone corporate locations with plans to open a fourth early next year, with more than 3,000 members and 50 employees. And, the SOLDIERFIT franchise program, launched just months ago, is moving fast. SOLDIERFIT recently awarded their first two franchises, one that will open in Northern Virginia and another in Pennsylvania in 2016.

“We are certain that what has spawned this rapid growth is our honest commitment to our vision,” Posin says. “Through the growth of SOLDIERFIT, we aim to revitalize the American dream by creating a culture of civic engagement, humility, and unyielding optimism for the future.”  He adds that the “why of SOLDIERFIT” shapes every decision the company makes, which ultimately lead them to franchise and create opportunities for others to realize their dream.

“We want to give all Patriotic Americans a chance to do what we love doing – changing lives,” Farrar says. “Dave and I clearly see that franchise ownership is an effective pathway to accomplishing both our mission of revitalizing the American dream and changing lives on national scale. It just makes sense.”

With a brand like SOLDIERFIT, some may think this is primarily an opportunity for veteran entrepreneurs. While SOLDIERFIT welcomes military veterans – their newest franchisee is one – Posin and Farrar want any potential franchisee to know that this opportunity is first and foremost for Patriotic Americans.

“Our name and modality definitely resonates with the veteran community, but more than 85 percent of the staff – including myself – are not veterans,” Posin says. “You don’t need to be a vet or even have experience in the fitness industry to be  a SOLDIERFIT owner. We’re really looking for passionate individuals who want to help people and make some real change in their community with a tremendous opportunity to build a lasting legacy.”

Through a series of forms, questionnaires, phone calls, and eventually a face to face meeting, the team at SOLDIERFIT really gets to know potential franchisees making sure their financial situation is in order, and giving them a chance to see the business up close so they can mutually make a decision to work together if it’s good fit.

Those who are in it for the long haul will then get assistance looking for a location, partaking in an extensive seven-day training course at the company’s headquarters. The training is split 50/50 between classroom and field training that covers everything involved in running the business, including how to be a good Barrack’s Commander — what they call their managers — how to recruit and retain members, how to run the front desk, and how to teach a proper class with motivation and excitement.

The SOLDIERFIT team will guide them through conducting pre-opening sales, help them with their grand opening, provide templates for marketing materials, and be onsite for their grand opening to assure things run smoothly.

Once they’re up and running, the team continues to offer comprehensive ongoing support for franchisees.

When it is all said and done SOLDIERFIT aims to be a national company, but refuses to grow at the sake of its Ideals.

“At the end of the day we eat, sleep and breathe our vision statement,” Farrar says. “The most important first question a potential franchise should ask themselves: Does this concept resonate with you? We are more than just a work out — We are a SOLDIERFIT. Are you?”

For more information about the SOLDIERFIT franchise, and to contact Farrar and Posin directly, visit soldierfitfranchise.com and fill out their home page contact form. Or, email franchise@soldierfit.com.