In 2014, Joel Tallman had a lightbulb moment, and did what many entrepreneurs do when they have an idea — he wrote it down on a Post-it note.
What did he write? The simple word “MÜV.” Since, those three letters have transformed from scribbles on a sticky note to a fully-fledged company called MÜV Brands, consisting of three unique concepts, 13 locations in Colorado, Oregon, South Carolina and Washington, 750 employees, and more than 75,000 members.
The inspiration for MÜV Brands came from Tallman’s longing to create a company in which owners and operators could thrive. Formerly a Gold’s Gym franchisee and the senior vice president of franchising and global operations for Gold’s Gym International, Tallman’s background led him to appreciate working around great entrepreneurs and all that they bring to the table.
“I thought, ‘How can I create a co-op type of brand that utilizes the depth of experiences that franchisees and new people with different experiences have?’” recalled Tallman. “Everyone brings something to a franchise that’s unique. Basically, I had a strong desire to create a cooperative brain-trust where we could develop and implement best practices in all our locations.”
In that endeavor, Tallman has found success. MÜV Brands’ leadership team consists of a co-op of industry veterans — Jeff Carlson, Jack Tawney, John Burriss, Chip Schwerzel and Tallman himself — altogether having more than 150 years of professional experience in the health and fitness industry.
Together, they have used that experience to craft a franchise boasting three unique concepts: MÜV Fitness, large-box, full-amenity facilities; MÜV Training Strength, boutique-size facilities featuring barre, yoga and cycling options; and MÜV Training Strength programming for non-MÜV branded clubs.
In all three concepts, member results are the central focus. “We’ve seen organizations that focus on making money, and I’m a heavy proponent in this business that results equals referrals, which equals retention, which equals revenue,” explained Tallman. “If your biggest goal is to make money, it shows in the relationship with the member — it puts the member in a different place as far as importance in their results. It’s easy for a member to leave a monthly bill, but it’s not easy for them to leave a place where they’ve established relationships, seen results and had their lives changed from exercise.”
Because of the focus on results, member on-boarding is a key component to MÜV Fitness. Each member is provided with multiple sessions to determine their fitness goals and set a baseline through body composition analysis. They are then provided with a customized success plan charting their journey as they begin. In addition, all members have the opportunity to meet with a personal trainer every 30 days to check on their progress and make adjustments to the plan if needed.
“We are very closely tied to DotFit protocols for their ‘4 Pillars of Fitness’ program,” continued Tallman. “We believe that a strong focus on nutrition is key to results. MÜV Fitness clubs rank as some of the highest sellers of DotFit supplements. Our Spokane, Washington group was honored at IHRSA by DotFit as the highest producing clubs in the world.”
Another great example of MÜV Brands’ focus on results is its MÜV It & Lose It Challenges. The challenges run year round and are comprised of 90-day and 60-day challenges that utilize MYZONE to encourage members to lose weight and gain muscle.
According to Jeff Carlson, a MÜV Brands partner who operates the MÜV Fitness clubs in Washington and Oregon, similar to the company’s member onboarding process, they take a “no member left behind” approach to the fitness challenges as well.
“Every two weeks we bring all of our participants back in for a weigh in, we track results, they have to stand up on a scale in front of all the participants, and we educate them during that time through seminars or a group workout,” explained Carlson. “We track very closely the participants who show or don’t show, and if a participant doesn’t show, that’s a red flag. That means that person is in the danger zone and we need to reach out, schedule a meeting and figure out what we can do to get them re-engaged right away.”
Thanks to this approach, each MÜV It & Lose It Challenge cycle results in dozens of members who lose 15, 30, 40 and sometimes even 100 pounds. In fact, Carlson explained some MÜV Fitness members go through the challenge multiple times until they reach their ultimate goal.
“We have testimony after testimony of how these challenges alone have changed the course of people’s lives permanently,” said Carlson. “We have members who have gone 20 years struggling with their weight, trying everything under the sun with no significant progress, and then they get involved in our MÜV It & Lose It Challenges and they lose 14 pounds in those 90 days. Those are good results, but then they’ll do the next challenge, and the next challenge, and the moment one challenge ends, the next challenge begins. It’s an ongoing process. We have members who it will sometimes take three or four challenges before they ultimately get to their goal.”
In addition to providing great results for members, the MÜV It & Lose It Challenges have also been instrumental in fostering community among MÜV Fitness members.
“The coolest thing for me to see is when groups of members are coming to the gym, working out together, and the only reason they’re connected is because they just happened to be on the same fitness challenge team three years ago,” said Carlson. “They form this bond because they’re going through the journey together and sharing their experiences, the successes, the struggles, the pain, and they have these bonds that hopefully last a lifetime.”
John Burriss, a partner and director of MÜV Fitness clubs in South Carolina, has also seen the power the MÜV It & Lose It Challenges can have first-hand. Burriss transitioned his five Gold’s Gyms to MÜV Fitness clubs in 2015, and said the focus on member results and community has had a major impact on the business.
“Previously, we liked to say that we would get results, but we really didn’t monitor the people to determine they got results,” said Burriss. “So many people fell through the cracks and many people didn’t see the progress and were inclined to leave. [Transitioning to MÜV Fitness] was a change in philosophy to not only say we focus on results, but to actually focus on it, and it’s made a dramatic change in our business. I think from the member standpoint, the focus on results is big. If members get results, they’ll stay with you. If they don’t, they’ll leave. It’s as simple as that.”
At the end of the day, this focus on member results has been a key differentiator for MÜV Brands, and will continue to be so moving forward as Tallman and his partners push to grow in their existing markets and beyond.
And with more than 150 years of professional experience in the health and fitness industry at the helm of this endeavor, Tallman feels confident there’s no challenge MÜV Brands can’t overcome.
“We have varying talents among the ownership group — it’s the uniqueness and the spice in the stew, really, because they’re all so different,” said Tallman. “They all come with great ideas, they all come with great backgrounds and successes, so when we need to make decisions and have discussions, we have [different points of view]. That’s probably what attracted me to this team, was the level of success and the quality in the individuals and the experiences that they’ve had.”
Images courtesy of Charlie Mather.