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CEO Corner: Gregory Breitbart on Body20’s Franchise Success

CEO Corner: Gregory Breitbart on Body20’s Franchise Success

Scaling the EMS workout concept has been highly challenging, but Breitbart is motivated by a desire to deliver for franchisees and members

As demand for boutique fitness experiences swells and time becomes an increasingly precious commodity, Body20’s ‘train smarter, not longer’ concept is appealing to fitness enthusiasts looking to get fit in less time. 

The science-backed Body20 uses electro-muscle stimulation (EMS) to deliver what it says are the same muscle-building benefits of a complete strength-training program in a single 20-minute workout. Members sport an FDA-cleared EMS suit, which uses electrical stimulation to create recurring muscle contractions, producing over 150 times more muscle contractions than a conventional workout. 

Gregory Breitbart, CEO of Body20, spoke with Athletech News about the interesting backstory behind the EMS brand, his experience leading a popular and rapidly expanding franchisor, and why he believes Body20 can change people’s lives.

Athletech News: Tell us a bit about Body20 and how you got involved with the brand.

Gregory Breitbart: Body20 is a boutique fitness franchise that combines personal training with breakthrough whole-body electro-muscle stimulation technology over the course of 20 minutes to provide the same benefit of hours of strength training at the gym. Our members consistently are able to gain muscle mass while losing fat in just 20-40 minutes per week, according to aggregated body composition data across our full memberships base. We currently have over 40 locations open or in presale across the United States, with 200 in development.

I am the CEO of Body20 but not the founder. We have an interesting backstory that starts in South Africa. The original founder came to the United States about five years ago to open a Body20. At the time, there were around 40 locations in South Africa and the United States market for whole-body EMS was ready for takeoff (as the devices we use were just starting to get FDA clearance.) He met my current partner Christopher Pena in South Florida, and they ended up opening up the first Body20 together in Fort Lauderdale and partnering to franchise Body20 in the United States. That’s when I got introduced and ultimately became CEO.

My father and I had just finished building and selling, ironically, an electricity company, and he had just moved to Florida to retire. We built the company over seven years to over 125 employees and over $400,000,000 a year in revenue and had a successful exit, so I think he probably thought he was done, but then he tried Body20. He started as an obsessed customer, networked his way into Chris and the original founder and eventually ended up becoming their partner. That’s when I ended up joining and taking over as CEO. 

I’d say the rest is history, but that would downplay the ridiculous amount of hard work, ups and downs and work still to do. We ended up buying out the original partners, rebranding the business, reconceptualizing the physical space and experience, and changing just about every other aspect of the business to make it what you see today. We didn’t have overnight success, but our patience and determination to do things the right way, even if it meant going slower, ultimately paid off. Today we have over 225 Body20 locations open or in development and happy franchisees.

credit: Body20

ATN: What was it like growing Body 20 over the last several years?

GB: Part one of our journey was just plain hard. We didn’t have a 20-year struggle to find success but we condensed about 20 years of struggling into 3 years at Body20. Basically, the first few years were tough, and we had just about everything thrown at us, including a once-in-a-100-year global pandemic, which surprisingly was probably our easiest challenge.

Part two of our journey has been much easier, more fun and more rewarding. Over the past couple years, Body20 has had a lot of serendipity where we’ve been able to find some of the most amazing franchisees, employees, executives and even some new business partners that have all helped take Body20 to the next level, and they’re making this part of the journey incredibly exciting.

ATN: What is your greatest strength? 

GB: This probably sounds funny, but I think my greatest strength, at least in this endeavor, has been a lack of franchising experience. It’s certainly been a weakness at times as well but it’s forced me to probably over-hire experience on our executive team. It’s also allowed us as an organization to think more outside the box than your average franchisor because we didn’t just go with the solution we used last time. As we brought in more and more experienced executives, we realized how unique we were doing things. Mostly for the good, but of course, we reinvented a few wheels that were not as good too.   

ATN: What motivates you? 

GB: It sounds cliché, but it’s true. I am motivated mostly by two factors. The first one is that I know that our workout has the ability to change people’s lives and not just from a fitness standpoint but from a therapeutic standpoint, and I want to make sure everyone who needs this gets to try it. Secondly, I am motivated by a desire to deliver for our franchisees. 

Being the CEO of a franchisor is a heavy job, and I never have and never will take my responsibility lightly. Our franchisees largely decide to open Body20s because of financial goals, and while a lot of their results are on their own shoulders, I want to make sure that Body20 does everything it can possibly do to make this as easy and automatic for them as possible.  

credit: Body20

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ATN: What is your greatest accomplishment? 

GB: Keeping the lights on at Body20 in the early days. The story still has more to be told, but we are in a great spot as a business today, and it wasn’t always the case. We had some really low points in our early days, and it would have been really easy to give up, but I didn’t, and my partners didn’t, and I am very proud of that.

I tell our franchisees that if there was a magic red button in business ownership that makes it all disappear and it never happened, there will be a moment that you would press the button, but 10-15 years from now, you will be so glad that that button didn’t exist. Starting a business is in many ways an act of “burning the boats” and when you burn the boats, it’s amazing what you can accomplish with a little extra motivation.

ATN: Who is your mentor?

GB: My mentor has been my father, who has indirectly and directly been teaching me business since I was about five years old.  I always was fascinated with it as a kid, and I realize now that I’m older how much I learned through osmosis during my childhood.  We also have now owned two companies together and worked together for 10+ years, so I’ve learned a lot directly as well. We have a lot of complementary strengths and weaknesses, so I’m not a mirror image, but from a business philosophy and ethics standpoint, we are cut from the same cloth. He’s also a great dad.

ATN: How do you see fitness evolving in the future?

GB: Less dumbbells, more Body20. Our workout and our electro-muscle stimulation technology allows our members to build muscle without lifting weights. Body20 puts almost no strain on tendons, ligaments or joints, and you can build muscle in a fraction of the time.  Our vision statement as a company is “A World without Dumbbells”. It’s somewhat sensationalized, but we truly believe what we are doing can change fitness forever.

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