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Shaping Up These former teachers toned up their business savvy with a fitness franchise.

By Sara Wilson

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

In 2003, Mitch and Heather Naro, 43 and 38, respectively, returned to the U.S. ready to become entrepreneurs. Having taught for 12 years in China, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, they didn't have a set business in mind, yet their direction took shape when Heather repeatedly came home raving about her 30-minute Curves workout. The couple wondered if there was an equivalent men-only fitness franchise in their Albuquerque, New Mexico, area. When their search turned up nothing, they knew they had found their niche. Cashing in on Heather's background as a physical education teacher, they invested their life savings in opening a Cuts Fitness for Menfranchise, and got ready for a workout. Says Heather, "We threw everything we had in the pot and went for it."

While Mitch focused on getting the location they had leased ready for business, Heather worked on getting the Cuts Fitness name out into the community. She joined the local chamber of commerce, attended health fairs and organized a successful pre-registration week, which attracted 32 members before the doors had even opened in August 2004. Their facility now features eight hydraulic and eight cardio stations, an on-site personal trainer and a "wall of fame" spot-lighting members' accomplishments.

The Naros celebrated the end of 2004 and their first five months in business with 184 members, and they'll likely be celebrating again this year, as 2005 sales are projected to hit nearly $100,000. Says Heather, "This whole fitness craze has really taken off, and I think we're on the cusp of something really big."

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