It was during Tom Williams’ time as a personal trainer and Olympic athlete that he came to the realization that Americans were struggling to lose weight. “Before I started my club, I looked at the landscape of the U.S.,” said Williams. “I saw that obesity was, and is, a top killer of Americans, and is linked to a number of diseases, such as high blood pressure and heart disease.”
Williams’ opportunity to help fight this issue came to fruition in November 2006, when he co-founded Burn Fitness with his business partner. Situated on the fourth floor of a complex overlooking the Pacific Ocean in Santa Monica, Calif., Burn Fitness offers members the opportunity to do exactly what its name implies — burn fat, lose weight and get fit, in a boutique fitness setting.
“Burn Fitness was developed because, as a trainer, I realized the only way I could be successful, as a club owner, was to help people lose weight,” recalled Williams.
The backbone of Burn Fitness is FatBurn.com, an online weight-loss system developed by Williams in 2000, after he graduated from Ohio State University with his PhD in Counseling Psychology. Every member who joins Burn Fitness is given free access to FatBurn.com (it is available to non-members for $15 per month).
Based on the premise that you must burn more calories than you consume in order to lose weight, FatBurn.com allows users to log the foods they eat and the exercises they perform into its tracking system. With over 20,000 foods and exercises in its database, it applies users’ information to calculate how much weight they should have theoretically lost, defined by what they ate and how much they exercised.
“If people don’t know what’s going into their body, they won’t be successful,” explained Williams. “FatBurn.com is a way for them to see exactly what they’re putting into their bodies, and what they’ll need to do to burn it off.”
According to Williams, many of Burn Fitness’ members use FatBurn.com as a complement to personal training. Clients log the foods they eat and the workouts they do outside of training sessions into FatBurn.com. “Our personal trainers have access to the foods and exercises their clients are logging into FatBurn.com,” explained Williams. “That’s the kicker — your trainer is watching you the whole time. We did this based off of the theory of the Hawthorne Effect — under observation, you behave better.”
Williams said FatBurn.com, in addition to personal training at his club, has led to a high percentage of member success. “It’s a great tool,” he said.
In addition to providing a resource — FatBurn.com — and a location for members to lose weight, Burn Fitness offers a variety of amenities to help members work towards their fitness goals, including state-of-the-art cardio and strength training equipment, a cardio theatre and an array of group fitness classes. The view provides for a serene atmosphere as well. “We have a great view of the Pacific Ocean,” said Williams. “Everyone who comes here really enjoys the atmosphere.”
According to Williams, another defining component of the club is its co-founders. He and his business partner are both typically at the club. “If you want to talk to the owner, he’s either there, or just a phone call away,” said Williams. “That’s what really attracts people to us. We offer what any high-end club would offer, while keeping a unique identity, and it’s run by a couple of locals.”
Recently, the co-founders acquired another club located on the same street in Santa Monica. Williams said they plan to open the second Burn Fitness in that location, no later than the beginning of July 2013. Williams said he expects the second club to be just as successful as the first. “Our product appeals to a lot of people,” he said. “We offer a clean, healthy and educational environment.”
By Rachel Zabonick