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Anytime Fitness Franchisee and Member Conquer Mt Kilimanjaro

Photo courtesy of Mark Stevens.

Photo courtesy of Mark Stevens.

The bond formed between an Anytime Fitness franchisee and a member in West Tupelo, Mississippi, has recently led to the climbing of Mount Kilimanjaro, the fitness journey of a lifetime.

Franchisee Mark Stevens, 44, and member Travis Hunsicker, 31, left for their journey together on July 31, 2013, began their ascent on August 7, 2013, and reached Uhuru Peak on August 11, 2013. At the top, they revealed a banner featuring Anytime Fitness’ Running Man logo.

The Anytime Fitness logo represents many different aspects for the franchisees or individuals that work for the corporation. For Mark Stevens, the Running Man logo represents the idea that anything is possible. That symbol is no more apparent than now, after climbing a mountain that many people have failed to conquer. In fact, Hunsicker had failed to reach Mount Kilimanjaro’s summit in 2008, due to severe altitude sickness.

“Travis is a very ambitious young man,” said Stevens, who bonded with Hunsicker over the duo’s mutual interest in outdoor adventures. “It had always ate at him that he didn’t conquer Mount Kilimanjaro the first time.”

After winning a radio show’s “I Have a Dream…” contest, Hunsicker earned the opportunity to attempt to conquer Mount Kilimanjaro once again, and asked Stevens to join him. “I knew if Travis asked me to go with him that I’d say yes,” recalled Stevens. “I had heard a speaker at an Anytime Fitness conference a few years ago share his experience climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, and climbing it had become a ‘bucket list’ experience of mine.”

Overcoming that bucket list experience wasn’t easy. Due to conflicting schedules and different training approaches, Hunsicker and Stevens trained mostly separate for the few months prior to the climb. According to Stevens, Hunsicker focused on cardio and high intensity interval training, while Stevens stuck to his normal routine of whole-body workouts and intermediate cardio. Eight weeks before the climb, Stevens switched his focus to strengthening his legs, which would be instrumental to the climb.

Despite their difference in age (13 years), Stevens said the team both faired equally well. “We were really well prepared,” said Stevens. “We had done our research and knew what to expect.”

The biggest challenge for Stevens came on the day the team reached the peak. “We had been climbing all night, and when the sun came up, I looked up — it was really disheartening to see how far we had left to go,” he recalled. “I had to make myself think about nothing else but that next step.”

According to Stevens, that thought, “just focus on the next step,” will influence his role as a club owner. “Sometimes, being a business owner, I like to look at everything all at once,” he said. “Sometimes you have to focus on just the next thing you need to do.”

Overall, Stevens said the experience was extremely fulfilling. “I’m a fairly reserved person,” he said. “I’m not one of those guys who goes to football games and yells at the top of his lungs. I did at the top of that mountain.”

He plans on sharing the experience with his members, in hopes of relaying the message that “taking it one step at a time” is sometimes the best course of action. “When I get back, I’m going to spend time sharing the experience with my members to try to encourage them to just go ahead and do it no matter how intimidating their goals are,” he said. “You have to go slow, take small steps. If you take those slow steps, you can conquer a mountain.”

To view Stevens and Hunsicker’s journey as it was in progress, visit http://mstylesms.tumblr.com/.


By Rachel Zabonick

Rachel Zabonick-Chonko

Rachel Zabonick-Chonko is the editor-in-chief of Club Solutions Magazine. She can be reached at rachel@peakemedia.com.

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