'Boxing and Fitness Without a Doubt Saved My Life': Floyd Mayweather Jr. Saw the Impact that Channeling Community and Hard Work Through Fitness Had on His Life. Now He's Paying It Forward. Mayweather Boxing + Fitness is set for exponential expansion over the next few years.

By Emily Rella

entrepreneur daily

Mayweather Boxing + Fitness
CEO James Williams and Floyd Mayweather Jr.

Maybe it's the sleek locker rooms, the stand out Merch or the reputation associated with the level of difficulty, but there's something to be said about our obsession with boutique fitness.

The industry is ever-growing and adapting, especially amid an unforeseeable pandemic over the last few years where boutique chains had to quickly switch up their strategies, goals and delivery to focus on at-home modalities and methods in order to maintain income and a strong customer base.

But among the hundreds (or rather thousands) of boutique chains that have attempted to make a name for themselves in the rapidly expanding fitness industry, few have succeeded with longevity and few have seen exponential growth in a short period of time.

The boutqiue industry is expected to have a valuation of $22.1 billion by the end of this year, which is still an icnrease of 4.63% in expectation from pre-pandemic levels in 2019.

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What's more, nearly half (around 42%) of total gym memberships last year were to boutique studios, accounting for over $50 billion of the total revenue from the gym industry in 2021.

Many fitness entrepreneurs and businesses work tirelessly to figure out the secret sauce to succeeding in one of the most competitive, and dare I say oversaturated, franchise markets worldwide.

About a decade ago, around 4 am in Las Vegas, businessmen James Williams and Burrel Lee Wilks drove to boxing legend Floyd Mayweather Jr.'s home in an attempt to figure out the answer to this exact dilemma.

"The fitness industry is a really attractive one at a macro level, the fastest growing category, is boutique, group fitness and boxing is such a hot modality within that sector," Williams, CEO of Mayweather Boxing + Fitness, tells me. "We said "Hey, this is it.' This is where Floyd can be the brand, help create the programming and define the strategy and me and Burel will go and put together an amazing team. And this will be the focus and the legacy for Floyd outside of boxing."

The result ended up becoming Mayweather Boxing + Fitness, an in-class group fitness chain founded in 2018 by the three men that seeks to combine vigorous fitness and immersive boxing training through 45 and 60-minute-long workout classes.

"I grew up in a poor neighborhood in Grand Rapids, Michigan where positive opportunities didn't come often for kids. For me, boxing was my outlet to staying off the streets, keeping focused and working hard towards my goals. I was lucky enough to have a family in the sports and fitness world, which ultimately saved my life and made me who I am today," Mayweather explains to me of his motivation to start the business. "Mayweather Boxing + Fitness is that same family for members around the world. It is a place where you can come in, let off steam, feel great off endorphins and make lifelong friendships."

It's here that the team has strategically positioned themselves for untapped growth and continued expansion within the fitness industry — emphasize and work towards building strong, inclusive and inspiring communities within each gym and at large, do so from a place of authenticity and passion and find people to run these specific franchises who share the same passion for hard work and camaraderie as the founders and customers.

Williams says that franchisees must have "a passion for entrepreneurship or a passion for fitness" or better yet both.

"What really drives success is the energy that you create; the excitement, the environment, the community that you build within the four walls of that studio," he says, noting that the company has a range in owners from "the passionate entrepreneur who has one or two units, and then the small private equity firm is building out an entire territory."

Mayweather agrees that he looks for all of these things when deciding on who to do business with, also emphasizing a strong work ethic.

"We primarily look for franchisees who have a strong business background, are well capitalized and have a passion for the fitness industry," Mayweather says. "Prior experience in franchising is always a great plus. Franchisees who know how to lead, motivate, and inspire their teams will ultimately be the most successful in running a Mayweather studio. And those who know that starting a business is always going to require hard work and dedication, but who are prepared and excited to put that work in."

The estimated cost to open a Mayweather Boxing + Fitness franchise can range anywhere from $305,000 to $695,000, with an initiation fee of $49,500.

To Williams, it's all about building a team of franchisees that understand the commitment they're making and the power of having each other.

"We'll provide the blueprint, and we have this incredible brand. But each and every one of us understands that when you're starting a new business, it takes hard work and dedication, and there's going to be ups and there's downs when it's hard to get a ride. And when it's dark, you've got to dig deep, and really make things work," Williams says. "But being part of such a special team, it's such a special brand means that when you do have those days, you have people around you who can help bring you off, and it can help make you succeed."

Of course having the Mayweather name tied to the franchise is a major part of what moves the needle when it comes to being successful.

Each class is based off one of Mayweather's (note: undefeated) 50 fights, going through punch combinations that the boxing champ himself used to win that fight — it's an unmatched level of authenticity and uniqueness that fully immerses Mayweather in each class, whether its videos of the fight playing throughout each of the gyms or demos of the boxer on the screen acting out each of the punches.

But heed in mind, this is not just for seasoned boxers or fitness professionals.

"We're all about fitness, not about learning to fight," Mayweather explains. "When it comes to our members, diversity is our strength. We welcome members of all fitness levels. I love Mayweather Boxing + Fitness because people who normally would never become friends or interact in the same circle outside of class are able to grow close and learn from each other through the MBF community."

The gyms have been a way for Mayweather to distinguish himself as a businessman outside of his boxing career and to prove his integrity to brand loyalty to the sports and fitness world as a whole.

MBF isn't just a chain with Mayweather's name slapped on to it, it's a brand that he's built around his well-earned legacy and reputation as an athlete — the fitness classes are just an embodiment of that. From fly out meet-and-greets to Floyd attending franchisee conventions and new openings, he's made sure to be as hands-on as possible in a brand that he hopes to become the future of his namesake.

"Floyd is very unique for a top tier athlete in that he's always chosen to never take a major licensing, sponsorship or endorsement deal. He always decided to maintain that brand equity in the Mayweather name to build out a business that he was passionate about, that he was excited for, and that he would be a meaningful owner of once he retired as a professional boxer," Williams points out. "The persona Floyd "Money' Mayweather, it's all about the money and the show. It's incredible how smart of a businessman he is and how strategically he thinks so many steps ahead of kind of the day to day of what we're doing."

To Mayweather, taking his own experiences and appreciation for his community and team around him and finding an effective way to give back by emulating those experiences for as many people as possible has always been the goal, regardless of what his "Money' persona might infer.

"Through boxing, I have learned to be strategic, patient and fully dedicated to the goal ahead. Those are all necessary qualities that helped led to my success as a businessman as well," Mayweather says. "I always knew I wanted to be in a position where I could empower other entrepreneurs to own their own business in neighborhoods around the world. Boxing and fitness without a doubt saved my life and has always been my passion, which I wanted to share with people from all walks of life. Mayweather Boxing + Fitness is so important to me because it can truly change people's lives by providing them a fun and safe environment to get in shape, be healthy and build amazing relationships with other people."

Williams tells me that the gym's oldest standing member is a 73-year-old man who prior to coming to MBF, had never thrown a punch in his life — it's cleared that members here are family, and that community is everything to both the people inside the ring and outside the ropes.

He then tells me a story of a man who moved to L.A. from Russia who bought a penthouse apartment next to the flagship MBF location where he didn't know anybody. He walked past the gym and decided to walk in where he would then take classes for three months and lose over 50 pounds, stressing how vital the community had been to him and how positively it had impacted his life both mentally and physically before going to talk to Williams himself.

"He came up to my office and then he bought a franchise. He opened the gym, it's about three miles away from here and at the busiest intersection in Hollywood, Hollywood and Highland right across the street of the Loews hotel. It's a stunning location," Williams says.

The man, master franchisee Boris Kisko, then bought the rights to MBF in Russia where the brand has seen exponential international growth.

Talk about the power of community.

The brand is focused on more expansion in the U.S. (with about 100 to 200 new locations in the pipeline) while also eyeing more of a footprint overseas, especially with a demand in England, Australia and the Middle East.

"Changing lives around the world is so incredibly rewarding," Mayweather tells me. "Members' lives are truly changed through our fun and effective workouts and our studios have become the hearts of the communities they are based in. Seeing someone achieve their goals is so amazing, whether it's to lose weight, become less stressed, build confidence or just be happier in life."

That sounds like a 50-0 attitude towards business to me.

Emily Rella

Entrepreneur Staff

Senior News Writer

Emily Rella is a Senior News Writer at Entrepreneur.com. Previously, she was an editor at Verizon Media. Her coverage spans features, business, lifestyle, tech, entertainment, and lifestyle. She is a 2015 graduate of Boston College and a Ridgefield, CT native. Find her on Twitter at @EmilyKRella.

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