Running a company is one thing, but what does it look like to run a franchising company? Michael Abramson, Xponential Fitness, LLC’s Chief Operating Officer, tells us as he sits down for an interview with Cameron Herold. Here, Michael talks about the franchising he manages, how to onboard franchisees and ensure they are successful, and why branding is very important. Talking to those interested in venturing into this space, he then shares where most of the money is made as a franchisor and what marketing responsibilities the franchisor has on behalf of the franchisee. Plus, Michael talks about the best practices businesses need to focus on, how to operate through the fast growth phase and maintain that momentum, and, speaking of the elephant in the room, how to adapt to the changing business landscape brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Our guest is Michael Abramson, the COO of Xponential Fitness. At a young age, Michael was exposed to the fitness world from his father, David Abramson, who is a world champion powerlifter. Michael trained with some of the best coaches in powerlifting, making him a three-time national champion in USA Powerlifting. Michael’s accreditations include being President of the Student Bar Association in law school at UIC John Marshall and Tennessee State Chair for USA Powerlifting. Developing the immensely popular recurring event in Chicago called The Circle Sessions and founding a thought leadership gathering called Elements Chicago.
This love for training and creating new environments led him to partner with Will Bartholomew and Dan Murphy at D1 Training. He worked at D1 for eight years as VP of Development and General Counsel and later as President. He honed his business leadership skills there, leading D1 to #59 on the Entrepreneur’s Top 500 Franchises in 2018. Following D1, Michael took on the COO position of Xponential Fitness, which is the largest curator of boutique fitness brands in the world, owning eight different concepts with over 1,600 open locations and nearly 4,000 licenses sold. There, he focuses on infrastructure development and strategic partnerships. Michael, welcome to the Second-in-Command podcast.
Thanks for having me. Excited to be here.
That’s quite the bio.
It’s been an interesting life. It feels like I’ve lived many lives in a lot of instances.
What are the brands that Xponential owns?
From the top to down. Club Pilates, which has about 600 open locations. Pure Barre, which has about 550. CycleBar, which is in the low 200s. StretchLab, which is shy of a century. Row House, which is about 60. AKT, which has fourteen open. YogaSix, which is around 40 open, but YogaSix beat the record for the most sales of a brand in a single calendar year. In 2019, they sold 400-some odd units in twelve months, so that’s going to be a quick one coming out of the gate.
I’ve been around the franchising space for years. Are you doing a plug and play model where you have your franchise sales team for one brand, and then they move over and they work on the next brand? Are they completely separate teams from sales, marketing, and operations?
They’re universal. Every one of our sales guys can work with any brand. In the franchise world, you deal with a lot of franchise brokers, so we get a healthy amount of organic traffic. Ultimately, the best-qualified leads often come from franchise brokers, so it becomes a relationship game. The people on the sales team with the best relationships with those brokers get the most leads and they close the most sales. It’s not always the same brand. It can span the spectrum of brands and what’s become more common as people are buying multiple brands in one sitting. Rather than buying a three-pack of Club Pilates, they might buy Club Pilates, StretchLab, and YogaSix because they want to diversify their fitness portfolio, and then create an Expo Village with their real estate setup.
I used to coach a company out of Scottsdale, Arizona called Loud Rumor and they do a lot of marketing for that team.
We’ve used them in the past.
They do a lot of marketing in and around your industry, but they were talking about that same idea that people would acquire multiple brands in a city. That gives the owners leverage. Instead of trying to have one brand spread over multiple cities, they take 3 or 4 of it. Do you allow them to go outside of your group at all?
They have non-competes in their agreements, but we’re not rigid with it. Fitness is fitness. There’s not a lot of proprietary approaches. A squat is a squat. A row is a row. We say there are three key things to having a successful fitness concept. You’ve got the programming, marketing, and sales. If you are great at marketing, you’re going to get people coming in, but if you can’t sell them, your business is going to die. If you can sell them but your programming is crap, they’re not going to stay, so you need those three things.
Other brands, I don’t think do it often as well as we do. Interestingly enough, the whole idea of Xponential was born out of the success of Orangetheory. Orangetheory franchisees love their experience with OTF. They were hyper-successful, but then OTF sold out everywhere. They couldn’t buy more arm series and we didn’t want to be in the same spot. Club Pilates was our first and it was hyper-successful. We realized, “We need more concepts so that we don’t lose people to other franchisors.”
I had the second-in-command for Orangetheory, Griff Long, on as a guest. I was a second-in-command at 1-800-GOT-JUNK? and helped grow them through their real massive growth phase in the first seven years. Right as I was leaving the organization, I was telling the leadership team like, “We’re effectively almost sold out. We’re at 85% to 90% sold out.” They wouldn’t believe me. The leadership team kept fighting me on it. Finally, when I left, they realized the year later I was right that we had hit that point where it becomes much harder to sell Omaha, Nebraska. We need more of a rifle-based approach to sell the last 20% of location.
Get to those onesie, twosies and you’re having to make bad deals to get them sold.
It’s more expensive to target a certain city to sell. When you get somebody who comes in and they want to buy and I’ve got six, which one would you like? When I have to sell that one. It’s a little bit tougher. I saw one of your Row House locations in Scottsdale as well. It’s near one of my favorite Thai restaurants up there. I remember the brand anyway. Besides the program, marketing, and sales, what’s making your brand successful? You’ve got some good brands and some good success around them.
It’s the model. Anthony Geisler is the founder and he’s got a serially successful entrepreneurship bent. He had an online gaming solution years ago. He then acquired LA Boxing with a couple of locations. He grew that and he sold it to UFC that then became UFC GYM. He moved out of there and ended up getting into Club Pilates. The whole concept around what we do is mitigating the downside risks. All of our locations are about 2,000 square feet. It doesn’t matter the brand. It could plus or minus a couple hundred.
They all run with about the same breakeven point depending on the membership model and the tier market that they’re in. You then take that common real estate piece, which opens up a lot of inventory. The fact that you have a brand sitting under the same roof that’s constantly sharing knowledge with each other as to, “What’s working here? What’s not working here? Who are you partnering with in that market?” There’s an accelerated learning curve. No one’s perfect. We make a ton of mistakes, too.
We try to own them. We try and make sure that the other brands don’t make that same mistake. We’re able also to share vendors across our systems. We know sometimes not every vendor is right for every one of our franchisors, but when it is, we then get to capitalize on that scale and we get things cheaper and faster, and then we get special attention from them. Hopefully, our franchisees are getting treated like royalty when they’re dealing with that vendor. Customer service and relationship is the key to healthy franchising.
How do you select your vendors? How do you make sure that you’re picking the right vendors?
It depends on the category. We typically test them out in a limited fashion, and then we start looking at what’s their backend infrastructure? Can they support scale? We don’t want to introduce onesie, twosies if we don’t have to. Sometimes, you’re forced to, especially in the construction world. When you get into retail, we’ve got a team that has 15 to 20 years of retail experience. They are working with some of the top brands out there and they are setting up great fulfillment relationships. They know they can scale, whether it’s Lululemon and things like that. You then get into the AV side. We use 2 or 3 brands there. We use primarily Platinum or MAE out of Florida. We know from testing them and growing them that they can handle our volume because, in a non-COVID year, we’ll open between 500 and 800 locations. We don’t want to deal with new relationships in every market, so we try to create that consistency.
How do you onboard your franchisees and make sure that they’re successful?
When you aggregate the number of franchise training and GM training programs, pre-COVID, we were doing 76 education days a month at our corporate office. We are amassing this unbelievably large amount of experience under one roof and training franchisees and training their general managers and then their sales folks. We do a lot of pre-work with them online. We’ve got a strong learning management system. We stress the pre-work significantly before they step foot in here because they’re not going to get what they need out of the education if they don’t do the pre-work. We have a hands-on training process and we focus on those three key things of sales, marketing, and programming, and making sure they understand those are the three things to be successful.
We have a strong follow-up infrastructure. We have national sales directors and VP of sales, depending on the size of the brand. You may have six people in that sales sector, which is up-support because, in fitness franchising, everything is sales related. We have education, so we have an accredited system for cycling. We have accreditation for StretchLab. We call them Flexologists. For Club Pilates, we’re probably either the largest or the second-largest accreditor of Pilates instructors out there. It’s a 500 to 1,000-hour training program. We’re making sure they’re equipped with the best instructors.
Are those instructors paying for the accreditation program as well with you?
Yes. It’ll be either them or the franchisees. Oftentimes, if it’s the franchisee, the franchisee will have an agreement in place with their team member that should they leave within a certain amount of time, they need to be reimbursed for the investment they made.
As a franchisor, where do you make most of your money? I know some of this answer, but is it off the franchise fee, the royalties, or the licensing and the services you provide? Where do you make all your money? Is it all three?
The recurring rev is where you make the money, so the royalty basis. When you look at selling a franchise, you make almost no money with the way those commissions end up being structured, whether it’s inside or outside sales guys and franchise brokers. Eighty percent typically goes off the top right away. If someone buys a 60,000 unit, we’re making $12,000 on it, which is nothing. Our goal is to get them open fast, get them open successfully, and pre-sell their market to the point where they’re hopefully cashflow even within 60 to 90 days. We don’t always hit that mark, but that’s the way our program is set up.
You touched on one of the questions when you mentioned pre-selling the market. What marketing do you do on behalf of the franchisees? How is that structured? How do you set that up?
Marketing is twofold. We have our own national campaigns that we run. We have a strong VP of analytics and marketing, Krysta Brown. We stole her from Drybar. She was VP of analytics and eCommerce there and before that, Too Faced Cosmetics. We look at the data trends, and then we also tie in with our data analytics platform. We use Buxton as a big brother. They have 75,000 data points on every household in the country and they geocode it. I love Buxton as a businessman, but I hate it as an individual.
It helps us because it helps us identify a location that has the highest likelihood of success because it builds out your retail trade area, and then creates mirror members. What we do is we take those analytics and we help our franchisee market directly to the mirror members versus just doing a shotgun approach. In addition to that, you have to do the ground approach, whereas the franchisee, you need to get out and market. You need to kiss and shake babies and get to know everyone and get people in the door. It can’t just be digital, even though digital is the easiest to track.
We’re running our own ad spend through the marketing fund, and then we have a direction for them for in-market. The way we help them is, you know as well as I do, digital marketing can be a black hole of spending. We have a digital partnership program that we vet every digital partner we allow into our system to get API access to know that they are high caliber, high results-oriented and they’re charging market rates. We don’t set their rates. We don’t set their contracts with the franchisees. We’re just making sure they’re not raping our franchisees and giving them no results.
Especially on the SEO side, it can be the black hole of marketing as well for many. Paid search at least is a little bit more scientific. You mentioned that you’re using a learning management system in LMS for onboarding. Is there a certain platform that you like that has worked well in the franchising world?
We use Wisetail. I used FranConnect when I was at D1. FranConnect is great. It’s a little bit archaic in its user interface, but it’s a robust system. Wisetail is easier on the user interface, but it takes a lot more effort to set it up for exactly how you want it. We use Wisetail for all of our brands.
If you were a single unit gym or fitness studio, can you give them the top three things for them to be successful? Secondly, I wonder if it goes back to the program, marketing, and sales, but can you give any lessons that you can take out of the fitness space that other businesses and other industries could use and benefit from?
I’m naturally a relationship person, so when I look at business, to me, it’s all about the team. Aside from the sales, marketing, and programming, you have to have the right team. I always use the analogy I heard from a great speaker and I’m stealing it from him. “If you give a guy a spoon and tell him to dig a hole and you give a guy a shovel and you tell him to dig a hole, if the guy with a spoon has the passion for the digging and the guy with the shovel doesn’t, the guy with the spoon is going to get the job done.” You want that great team member’s positive attitude so that you have this phenomenal four-wall experience versus a guy who is well-credentialed, but maybe doesn’t have the same drive and focus. To me, it starts with the team. You can market the crap out of your location, but at the end of the day, when they walk in the building, if your team is subpar, you’re not keeping them and you’re probably not closing them on sale either. I’m a big team guy.
How about on the sales side? You touched on it that if the marketing is great, but your sales sucks, then you just burn through all those leads. If your program is bad, it doesn’t matter as well. On the sales side, are there any best practices that businesses can focus on?
Unload as many administrative pieces as possible to programs. There are many great software platforms out there that can allow your team members to focus on the relationship piece versus the when do I need to call this person back? When do I need to email them? You can have great automation, not just drip campaigns. There are programs out there like Conversica with artificial intelligence that has artificial intelligence sales solutions that do a handoff to your in-studio person once they’re ready to talk to a live member and/or come in. You remove all those administrative components so you can let your team in-house focus on two things. Relationship development, because in boutique fitness, we’re a premium product. They need to feel good about who they’re interacting with and then creating the best experience or the best workout possible. If you let them focus on those two things, you’re going to have a successful location.
I like the optimization automation. You’re taking some of the stuff off that is typically complicated for them, right?
Right. Your brain is a terrible filing cabinet. Most of the people running the front desk of a gym, they’re great but they’re young. They haven’t learned enough yet to know how to prioritize, track, and schedule. Give them the tools to do that and they’re going to be more successful.
I think about some franchisors over the years that have exploded in their growth. They don’t exist anymore. You think of Quiznos or Curves, massive rapid growth. How do you operate a business through the fast growth phase and then stay successful? After you’ve sold all these locations, you’ve got them all up and going, how do you make sure that you stay as a successful brand and that you deliver for these franchisees as well?
There are two things to look at. One, I used to know the head of development for Quiznos when they went through that massive growth. Their issue was they were selling to people they shouldn’t sell to. When they were opening, if they got open, they were not able to stay open longer and they closed. Quiznos, I don’t know anything about them but they didn’t take them over and help them redeem the location, get it to a new buyer. You had a great shrinkage rate. The other side of it is, you need to have this intensely loyal partnership with your franchisees. In the entire time Anthony, our founder, has been franchising, we have never had a single location close, ever. It’s not because every location wins. It’s because we view them as partners, and we have a high moral obligation to those franchisees that have their life savings invested in. I’m talking as far back as LA Boxing and never letting any of those close.
That’s a massive success.
It takes a lot of effort to get it done because you’re taking a distressed franchisee who is not exactly happy with you oftentimes. It could be at their own doing, but you’re the franchisor. It’s your playbook. They bought into your system to be successful even though there’s no guarantee of success and you’re trying to help them salvage a bad situation. We’ve gotten good at that because we do view it as our own personal partnership, not just, “Sorry, it didn’t work out for you. Close the doors,” we write you off because we’ve got 4,000 units sold. We don’t do it that way.
Most franchise owners don’t come anywhere near that. I remember speaking years ago to Fred DeLuca, who’s the founder of Subway. We were at the International Franchise Exposition together and we were talking at the bar one night. I said, “How do you deal with franchisee disputes?” He goes, “That’s easy. Litigation.” I was like, “What?” He wasn’t kidding. He’s like, “Whenever we have a problem with a franchisee, we sue them or they sue us.” They had 700 outstanding litigations with franchisees. It doesn’t even make sense.
We don’t litigate. We solve everything pre-litigation, we’re not afraid to. If you talk to Anthony, he is aggressive. I’m an attorney by trade. I did litigation for years. I have no problem with it. Litigation is a waste of time and money for everyone, in almost every instance, especially in franchising disputes. The franchise agreements are so onerous and one-sided. If you happen to be lucky to find a procedural flaw in the way they sold it to you, great, good for you but you have a high bar to get over. We don’t want to be punitive in our relationships even when they’ve gone sour. We always try and find some solution that’s pre-litigation. Outside of a couple of issues with the founders of our brands, we haven’t had any franchisee litigation. I don’t know if we’re still at zero, but we’re close to zero.
That’s probably one of the reasons why you’re there, why you have had the success is because of that mentality. That focus on your franchisee’s success, profitability, and engagement. It’s strong. On the operational level of being a franchisor, are there lessons that the average company can learn from as well? Do you think you do things better as a franchisor than some businesses do or that you do things differently than some businesses can learn from?
The key thing is don’t overbuild. What ends up happening a lot of times, and I’ve seen this in past companies I’ve been involved with and companies I’ve consulted with, everyone wants to build the Taj Mahal because they think the nicer and sexier it is, the more likely you are to be successful in business. That’s just not the case. If you look at our locations, we use nice finishes but it is stripped down as far as amenities go. We don’t do showers because we find boutique fitness people don’t use them. It’s a small crowd. We keep small lobbies. Everything should be dedicated to the revenue-generating space, which is primarily your training space. Take the position when you’re building out your location as to, is this dedicated to generating revenue? If it’s not, do you need it because then it’s a marketing expense?
Do any of your brands have completely different cultures from the other brands that you own or are most of the cultures similar?
They are all completely different. This was probably the biggest learning lesson I had coming in. I screwed the pooch when I first started here. I came in, I had a great run at D1, I loved my time there. It was one brand, tons of experience. Xponential sits under the brands, we view the brands as the lead elements, not Xponential. Every brand has its own KPIs, its own lifestyle feel. I thought it’d be a little more cogent when I came in and it wasn’t. It’s still not. It’s not by design because the brands attract different people. Pure Barre, which is an immensely popular lifestyle brand, is different than the people that go to Club Pilates. You’ve got almost the same studio count, they both drive tremendous revenue, but Club Pilates is an upper-echelon training environment that we’ve made accessible to the general public, whereas Pure Barre is heavily lifestyle-oriented. It’s different in the way you treat the franchisees and members.
In terms of the leadership teams that you’re building out for these organizations, do you look for franchising experience when you build them out or do you just look for great leaders? What are your thoughts on that?
We look for people with, number one, fitness experience and number two, franchising experience. The reason being, on the fitness side, fitness is so different, especially in boutique than a lot of other industries. It’s not like you can take a Chick-fil-A operator who’s got great customer service and probably was hyper-successful and plug them into the fitness world because it’s a completely different mindset, customer base, results, and outcome you’re looking for. Franchising is always something important because you need to understand that you don’t own these businesses. It’s not a might makes right. You don’t just say, “I declare it from the top,” and now everyone has to do it. Every one of them has an opinion and their opinion deserves to be heard. You need to work with them to understand, is the decision I’m making going to benefit real-life operations, not just me here in the office?
I like that approach and that mindset around it as well. We’re sitting talking, it’s the early part of November 2020. The election just happened, we don’t even have the results yet. I’m curious. You are in the fitness space, and 1,600-plus locations all over the world or all over North America?
We’re in 11 countries. 1,600 domestically, we probably have 20, 30 internationally. We’re in Japan, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Germany, England, Australia, and a few other countries.
You’ve clearly had to have had an impact with this whole COVID. Being in the fitness space has been hard hit. How have you had to work around that? What have you done and how are you doing?
We did a lot of praying. The first thing we did was we circled the wagons. We started doing Monday, Wednesday, Friday total system webinars led by Anthony. We needed them to have a guiding voice and believe that we as the franchisors were actively working in their best interest. We then took that approach and said, “What are the key expenses that we need to help them manage, knowing that revenue would be dramatically impacted?”
Our VP of real estate, Adam Pennington, started hard-charging at all of his relationships with the top REITs in the country and setting up global deals with them. We found the REITs to be receptive. We created a playbook for if you didn’t work with a REIT, how do you deal with your local landlord? Making then our entire real estate team available to get on the phone with their landlords to help them negotiate abatements, deferments, etc. That was the largest fixed cost that was coming no matter what.
Shortly after that, we pivoted to pushing our digital side and then allowing our franchisees to participate in digital revenue development. Live streaming classes through our platforms, doing revenue shares through our corporate video-on-demand programs. We started looking at all the ways we could incrementally help them know there’s no one solution that’s going to solve everything, everything is incremental.
Was there any thought of having a digital platform and digital sports play prior to COVID or did this all happen because of COVID?
No, it was already in the works. Club Pilates and Pure Barre already had a program but we were in the process of the next iteration of the platform. We accelerated its launch because of COVID. We then released it to all of the brands, which we were going to do in a much more phased approach just saying, “Perfection is the enemy of profitability. We need to get going. We need to equip our franchisees.” We also have a great relationship with ClassPass. I deal with Fritz Lanman a lot. He’s their CEO. They’ve been an unbelievable partner through all of this. They offer our franchisees to use ClassPass as your streaming platform if you need it. We won’t charge you anything. There’s no commission. Get on there. Use it to do your live streams until you get the corporate platform set up. We leveraged our relationships to try and help that.
Was cycling the first group fitness that was being done online or was there more?
No. Pure Barre was probably the first because it’s equipment low as far as what you need. You can do all of it at home with a chair. CycleBar definitely got a lift because of Peloton. Peloton has been in the news and everyone’s excited about Peloton. It naturally gravitated. We had some franchisees come up with the idea of, “Let’s rent out the bikes in our studios to our members if they want to take them home.” They started renting out their equipment. As an attorney, I had a lot of heartburn over that, but at the same time, that’s a creative way to generate revenue. It’s not being used otherwise, and you get them to stay in touch with your brand during this downtime.
It’s not a bad idea. It’s interesting to see the creativity that came out of it. It goes back to that old adage that necessity is the mother of invention. We’ve had to figure it out. How about yourself in terms of your growth over the years, how have you had to grow as a leader, how do you tend to grow as a COO?
I have this unbelievably pain in the ass way of speaking where whatever I say, I say it with authority. People naturally believe what I’m saying is true. I’m exposing myself here, I don’t know everything. When I say something, it’s as though it’s the gospel. I’ve had to learn better how to communicate in a more accessible manner and not in such a domineering manner. I’m bringing people into it and making them partners in what we’re doing versus just a command-and-control style of leadership, which is my natural bent. I’ve had executive coaches, one of which drove me into therapy. We got to the point where we were done and he said, “I can’t help you anymore. You need to see a counselor.”
Was it intentional, the command-and-control style or was it just because you’ve got that big voice, the big physical size that it came off that way?
No, it’s just my natural behavior. I grew up, my dad is as alpha male as they come. He was a world champion powerlifter, he then got into handmade knives. He became one of the best knife makers and sheath makers in the world. His best friends are some of the best top close quarters combat instructors. I grew up with them. Now, he does professional arm wrestling. This type of mentality has been bred into me and then my love of training. You always have to be aggressive. This discipline and aggression was part of every bit of who I am. When I spoke, I always spoke aggressively. I had a lot of friends around me that had to educate me on you’re going to yield fruit, but it may be bad fruit because of the way that you’re communicating with the people. I call it the vortex of dysfunction. Steve Jobs had the reality distortion field. The seedy underbelly of that is the vortex of dysfunction because you churn and burn people out.
Where have you burned out over the years or have you burned out?
I haven’t burned out. I love working. Specifically, with D1, I talked to my wife and I said, “This is going to be a great opportunity,” I was moving from private practice as an attorney to in-house with D1. It married two passions, me as an attorney, and then training. The funny thing was that I don’t watch sports, I don’t pay attention to sports. We work with all these famous pro athletes. It’s like a running joke. I talked to her and said, “I’m going to be working a lot of hours. I want to because it’s a good opportunity but you have the permission to pull the cord at any time.
If you think this is detrimental to me, my health, or to our relationship and I’m not seeing it, without question, you have permission to say, ‘It’s done,’ and I’ll quit tomorrow.” I meant it. That’s how I’ve approached everything and I’ve yet to burn out. Where I get disenfranchised, however, is I’m a high loyalty guy. If I find that people are not making decisions in the best interests of the company and it’s for their personal ambition, it doesn’t matter who they are. It could be the owners, team members, or people that report to me, I get frustrated and I get disenfranchised. We have to reestablish that trust element so we’re truly a team.
If you’re going to go back to your 21-year-old self, 22 years old, maybe you’re coming out of law school, 24, 25 years old. What advice would you give yourself back then that now you know to be true? What do you wish you’d known back at that time?
Be open to learning more things. Learning has always come easily to me. I’ve always been ahead in education. I never had to put in a lot of effort into it, at least back then. I look at it and say, “I did not capitalize on opportunities where I could have learned way more.” I’ve always been great with relationships, it’s a numbers game. All of my life success is tied to the people around me. It’s almost never about me. It’s the people I’m working with. I look at it, I had a mentor that brought me into this, I should have dug in more because I’d have a different level of competency now which brings more wisdom.
That makes sense. I get it. I was not the smart kid. I struggled with guys like you that it all came easy to. Michael Abramson, the COO for Xponential Fitness. Thanks for sharing with us on the show. Appreciate the time. That was great.
Thank you for having me.
- Xponential Fitness
- D1 Training
- Club Pilates
- Pure Barre
- Row House
- Loud Rumor
- Griff Long – Previous episode
About Michael Abramson
At a young age, Michael was exposed to the world of fitness from his father, David Abramson, who is a world champion powerlifter. Michael trained with some of the best coaches in powerlifting, making him a 3x national champion in USA Powerlifting.
Michael’s accreditations include being President of the Student Bar Association in law school at UIC John Marshall; Tennessee State Chair for USA Powerlifting; developing the immensely popular recurring event in Chicago called, “The Circle Sessions”; and founding a thought leadership gathering called Elements: Chicago.
This love for training and drive for creating new environments led him to partner with Will Bartholomew and Dan Murphy at D1 Training. He worked at D1 for eight years as VP of Development and General Counsel, and later as President. He honed his business leadership skills there, leading D1 to #59 on the Entrepreneur’s Top 500 Franchises in 2018.
Following D1, Michael took on the COO position at Xponential Fitness, which is the largest curator of boutique fitness brands in the world owning 8 different concepts with over 1600 open locations and nearly 4000 licenses sold. There, he focuses on infrastructure development and strategic partnerships.