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Every Day's Like Recess

Dancing and tumbling, this franchisee helps kids get healthy.

It's not often you get to go to work in sweats and run around in your socks all day. But in Gilon Rubanenko's line of work, dressing down is a must. As the owner of a Solon, Ohio-based My Gym Children's Fitness Center franchise, Rubanenko and his staff work closely with children ages 3 months to 9 years, a difficult task to do in a suit and tie.

"The main idea of our program is to build their self-confidence and self-esteem as well as their balance and coordination," says Rubanenko, 33. Created in 1983, My Gym offers programs and classes for children, with a basis in gymnastics and tumbling. Music, dance and puppet shows are incorporated into the program for younger children, while older participants develop basic sports skills.

Rubanenko, who was once a soccer coach and camp counselor, walked into an Illinois My Gym franchise in January 2001. Within five minutes, he knew it was the business he wanted to run. Two months later, he signed a deal with My Gym.

Now Rubanenko is having the time of his life. "I get to have a positive influence on kids. They get to have a healthy lifestyle, which is what I want for my kids," he says.

Despite the perks, Rubanenko can't avoid the challenges. "In every business, you'll have issues and concerns," he says. "This just happens to be a very fun business."

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This story appears in the February 2002 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »