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Business Observer Friday, Jan. 17, 2020 5 months ago

Fitness industry shapes up with new ideas

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Entrepreneurs are taking innovative approaches to winning the business of people who want to get healthy.

A new year, as always, brings new plans of attack in the battle for health and fitness dollars. Tampa Bay, with its influx of young professionals and families, is a heavyweight in fitness industry innovation, with three new concepts debuting recently.

Gretchen Mitchell, who has a background in entrepreneurship and banking, has opened a Regymen Fitness franchise at 23684 U.S. Highway 19 N. in Clearwater. Baton Rouge, La.-headquartered Regymen, she tells Coffee Talk, “is a very different concept.”

Mitchell, 46, likens the experience to “working out in a nightclub.” The instructor-led group fitness classes are conducted in a darkened space with dramatic lighting. “If you put people in a dark environment and introduce artificial lights, they can more easily let go of the outside world,” she says. “We want our members to just let go of their stress.”

Abdul-Wasai Wasim, founder of GymBursement. Courtesy photo.

Abdul-Wasai Wasim, meanwhile, has launched GymBursement, which isn’t a gym or fitness center but an app that incentivizes people to work out. Wasim, 30, aspired to be an occupational therapist before dropping out of Florida Gulf Coast University and turning to software and app development.

“Going to the gym has always been a hard problem,” he tells Coffee Talk. “I wanted to come up with an idea that would motivate me. But a lot of apps are based on steps. I don’t really walk around for fitness. I like to lift weights, play basketball, go swimming.”

GymBursement rewards visits to the gym with credits that can be used to buy discounted food, vitamins, supplements and other health and wellness items offered by local vendors. With around 1,700 users and available only in Tampa and Orlando, the app is in the early stages of development, but Wasim — who also created an app for the private security industry called SAYF — says plans are in the works to roll it out in New York, Miami, Jacksonville, Atlanta, Houston and Dallas.

Finally, there’s Mayweather Boxing + Fitness, the boxing- and group-fitness concept created by heavyweight legend Floyd Mayweather. A new franchise, owned and operated by Dan Page, opened at 447 99th Ave N. in St. Petersburg Jan. 11. According to a press release, Page had already signed up 250 members prior to opening and has plans to develop a second location, in Largo, in April.

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