A Fitting Business

Originally published in Lake & Sumter Style , June 2016. Photos by Fred Lopez


The 2016 Business Man of Style Michael Brashear found the perfect franchise for combining his business savvy and his fitness background—24-hour gyms that have revolutionized workouts in Lake and Sumter counties. And he’s not done yet… plans are underway for his seventh Anytime Fitness location in Key West.

Michael Brashear, owner of six Anytime Fitness locations in Lake and Sumter counties, is the epitome of a businessman who is building his dream. Since opening his first Anytime Fitness gym in 2007 in Leesburg, Brashear has become a successful entrepreneur whose name is synonymous with 24-hour access to fitness facilities.

He moved from his native Orlando to open the first Anytime Fitness franchise in Lake County after working in upper management with a national fitness chain.

“I wanted my own business,” he remembers. “I subscribed to Entrepreneur Magazine, where I read that Anytime Fitness was an up-and-coming franchise.” Michael started researching the company and sought advice from his brother-in-law, who owns several Subway franchises. “He reviewed with me what it would entail, and we knew my fitness and personal training background would be beneficial,” says Michael.

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As the company name suggests, Anytime Fitness is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Members have a key to access the facility anytime in the day or night. Shift workers such as policemen, firefighters, nurses, and doctors make up a large proportion of the Anytime Fitness clientele. The key also gives clients access to more than 3,000 Anytime Fitness locations worldwide. “Once people get in the habit of living a healthy lifestyle, they want to continue working out even if they’re on vacation, business trips, or visiting family,” Michael says. “That’s definitely one of the big advantages of being an Anytime Fitness member.”

The 37-year-old Fruitland Park resident is a certified nutritionist and fitness trainer, who received a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology from South Carolina’s Anderson University.

Operating several gyms is about a lot more than just fitness, however. Michael has given much thought, planning, and research into every one of his Anytime Fitness locations. Although he says he doesn’t know what he’d be doing if he wasn’t in the fitness business, he has demonstrated exceptional business skills. His older sister, Amy Fulmer, isn’t surprised. She helped him research franchises before he settled on Anytime Fitness “He has always been a go-getter,” says Amy. “He has lots of drive and determination, especially when it comes to helping people.”

Amy remembers that it took at least six-to-eight months to visit locations and put together a business plan before her brother opened the first location.

Today, she helps him with paperwork and maintenance issues. “In business you cannot just jump into things without knowing what you’re getting yourself into,” Michael says. “Before opening any new location, I’ve sat back, carefully observed, and planned years in advance.” His business savvy has given thousands of residents throughout Lake and Sumter counties a place to work out in a gym atmosphere that is motivating yet unintimidating.

Clients can work out day or night, and feel safe and secure knowing each gym has multiple security cameras that are monitored. “If a member falls or suffers a heart attack, someone can press the security button which will bring the police and fire department here immediately,” Michael explains. “Having high-tech security makes the Anytime Fitness franchise that much stronger.”

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Nearly a decade after opening his first franchise, Michael can reflect on what leads to successful entrepreneurship, especially for younger men and women who make want to start their own businesses. “You have to know the business, so pick something that you know something about or get a partner who knows something about it,” he says. “There will always growing pains, but chase your dream and don’t have any regrets. You may fail a few times but get back up and keep going.” Running a business is not without challenges, especially with new competitors coming into the market.

Michael says keeping staff trained to deal with the competition is more of a focus now than when he first started. He also spends a lot of time driving to the different locations, and sometimes that makes it difficult for him to get in his own workouts. “When things get busy, I find time at home to pick up a kettlebell,” he says with laugh. “Once in a while, I can sneak in a workout at the gym, which gives me a chance to interact with members and staff.”

Michael is the first to admit that being motivated to work out is hard even for someone in the fitness business. “I go through that every day so I know how my clients feel,” he says. But seeing them improve their health fuels his passion for his business even more. “To me, it’s not about how much weight you’ve lost or how much muscle mass you’ve gained. I’ve seen people lose lots of weight only to put it back on,” he says. “The biggest thing for me is teaching clients about living a healthier lifestyle and seeing them stick with that lifestyle. It makes people more confident, more successful in their careers, and even helps them manage finances better.

The benefits of living a healthy lifestyle are endless.” While the kettlebell and the gym workouts keep him in shape, he balances his life with lots of family time, traveling, and fishing—both salt and freshwater. He has two children of his own, while his longtime girlfriend also has a daughter that he’s close to: Callie is 13, Emma is 7, and Zayden, 2.

The family travels to the Keys for fishing often. So often, in fact, that Michael will open his seventh Anytime Fitness location near Flagler Street in Key West next year. “I’ve been looking at doing this for three years,” he says. “People think I’m crazy but I am excited about this new location.” Michael says having the freedom to set his own schedule is one of the biggest rewards of having his own business. “I travel when I want…I fish when I want… and I don’t have to answer to someone else,” he says. “I wake up happy every day to go to work and just go out there to do the things that need to be done.”


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