A focus on fitness

Workout Partners tones you up without tapping you out

Pierre R. Romain, 31, has worked to become a business mogul since he was a teenager. A physical fitness fanatic, five years ago he combined his two interests to create a successful personal training enterprise: Workout Partners Fitness Inc.

Romain began in 1986, when, after graduating from high school, he became a program director, then a manager of a Jack La Lanne fitness center in Nanuet, New York, where he eventually earned an annual salary (plus commissions and bonus) of $85,000. This, coupled with other professional experience, taught Romain what he calls the fundamentals of how to make money.

Even though Romain found success early in his career, the road to becoming the owner and CEO of his own personal training outfit has not been easy. In 1990, he first attempted to open a fitness-equipment maintenance company with a friend and former Jack La Lanne co-worker. Unfortunately, the partner drained Romain’s personal savings from their bank account, which was a major setback for him.

“That was one of the most difficult points in my life,” he says. “I had left a job where I was making good money to set this business up and now my credit was shot.” Eventually, Romain was able to repair his finances and once again save money for his entrepreneurial dreams.

In 1994, he drafted a new business plan and invested $20,000 of his personal savings in the renovation of half of a 3,000-square-foot loft space into a personal fitness training facility.

Today, Workout Partners has 40 employees and more than 1,000 members at locations in New York City and Lake Mary, Florida (near Orlando). When Romain needed additional funds to expand and purchase expensive athletic equipment, he turned to friends and private investors in lieu of more traditional financial institutions, which were less willing to invest in his idea. Earlier this year, the firm was granted a $200,000 Small Business Administration loan, guaranteed through Business Partners. The money will be used to open a second facility in New York in the fall. Romain is also developing interactive, visual online personal training, which can be accessed at his Website, www.workoutpartnersfitness.com.

In 1998, Workout Partners Fitness generated nearly $1 million in revenues and is expected to double that this year. The centers offer club members the opportunity to lose weight, tone up and work out with a personal trainer, one on one, for $20 per session. The average cost for a personal trainer at larger health clubs is about $60 per session, he says.

“For most people who go to health clubs, they don’t get the level of service that they need and they don’t see results because after they pay their membership fees, they end up never going,” Romain says. Workout Partners provides an attractive alternative in a clean, spacious environment coupled with experienced trainers who focus on clients’ specific fitness goals. One key to his company’s continued growth, Romain says, is aggressive advertising in local newspapers and magazines.

Workout Partners Fitness, 208 W. 29 St., Suite 203, New York, NY 10001;

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