Gold’s Gym Franchisee Feature: Mike Epstein
June 13, 2019
Our latest franchisee feature comes from Paramus, New Jersey. Mike Epstein opened a Gold’s Gym franchise in 1992 with his college roommate, Art Carril, and the friends and partners have been helping their community become healthier ever since.
Mike and Art were college roommates and fraternity brothers. They played sports and were very fitness-minded. “We wanted to do business together, and way back then, there weren’t a lot of gyms in our area. We wanted to bring our California Gold’s Gym to New Jersey,” says Mike. And that’s exactly what the pair did.
Focused on the Community From Day One
From the beginning, the partners were instinctively community-minded. “We’ve been that way since day one, and stayed that way.” They’ve also incorporated wellness services into the gym so they can do more to help their 2,500+ members with the things they need.
The partners strive to provide as many wellness services as possible to keep people in the gym. “Our chiropractor is an Iron Man athlete, and our physical therapist is a marathon runner,” he says.
Mike and Art are also very involved with the American Diabetes Association (ADA). Mike’s mother has diabetes, so he’s familiar with the disease and the challenges it can pose to those who have it. “I started working strategically with the ADA in New Jersey and brought that to Gold’s Gym nationally through the Tour de Cure bike ride. We’ve raised over $4 million since I started over 20 years ago.”
What Has Been Most Rewarding?
“Definitely the impact we’ve made on our community, and the lives we’ve changed,” he says. The gym’s special programs in the community, such as their work with diabetes and the Paramus weight loss challenge, have been very rewarding for the duo.
“We challenged the town to lose 500 pounds over a 12-week period.” And for every pound a person lost, they helped the team. Mike and Art have worked with the mayor, the health department, and a local hospital to launch the program. “Everyone in town is eligible for a free month, and we teach them how to exercise. The whole program is to help jumpstart them into a healthier lifestyle.”
In December of 2018, Mike was recognized by U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer as one of the North Jersey “Hometown Heroes,” an honorable nomination made by Mayor Richard LaBarbiera, who admires Mikes impact on the local community.
Mike’s Advice to New Franchisees
Mike says that to succeed as a Gold’s Gym franchisee, you must have the entrepreneurial spirit. You cannot be afraid to try new things and you certainly have to love fitness and helping people. “It’s a people business,” he says. “That old cliché about following your passion absolutely comes to play in the fitness business. Just being able to work with all types of people.”
About the support he’s received as a franchisee, Mike says, “We are very blessed in the Gold’s Gym family. We have a Gold’s Gym Franchise Association, which I was lucky enough to be a president of. We rely on each other all the time. It’s an incredible group of people that shares everything professionally – financial numbers, member issues, facility changes – it’s a very unique group, and that goes for franchisees domestically and internationally.”
Mike notes he’s been with the brand a long time, and he was chairperson of their Gold’s Gym Advertising Advisory Committee for over 20 years. “We work hand-in-hand with the Gold’s Gym Support Office. We’ve built the franchise system to be collaborative, especially on the marketing side.” He admires all the great ideas that come from franchisees. “You need a franchisor who is willing to accept and further develop these ideas. We’ve been able to accomplish a lot over the years.”
The business partners’ story doesn’t end there: Mike and Art both met their wives at Gold’s Gym. Mike and his wife have three children, and Art and his wife have two children together, so their personal lives have also been improved because of the Gold’s Gym franchise opportunity. “I’m grateful forever to Gold’s Gym because that’s where my family started,” says Mike.