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One-Two Punch: She Opened One of the First Mayweather Boxing Franchises, and Then the Pandemic Hit Kathy Davis knows the meaning of rolling with the punches.

By Kim Kavin

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This story appears in the June 2022 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Courtesy of Mayweather Boxing + Fitness

Image Credit: Courtesy of Mayweather Boxing + Fitness

Kathy Davis has been in motion ever since she was a little girl growing up in 1970s Detroit. She played basketball and baseball. She rode bikes until sunset. As a teenager, she learned ballet, modern dance, and jazz dance. Shortly after college, she became a group fitness instructor in Atlanta. In her early 30s, she started a personal training business and spent the next two decades trying everything from bodybuilding to spin classes to triathlons and marathons.

By the time she was in her mid-50s, she was living near Nashville, and the gym where she trained brought in a professional boxing instructor. She loved the sport so much that in November 2019, she and a couple of partners opened franchise number two of Mayweather Boxing + Fitness. Four months later, COVID shut down gyms nationwide. It was a heavy blow, on top of the already complicated nature of being an early franchisee. Here, Davis explains how she bobbed and weaved her way through a bumpy start.

What led you to open one of the first Mayweather Boxing + Fitness franchises?

They were advertising on social media. A couple of friends and I thought it was a great opportunity to get in on something from the ground up. The name [Floyd] Mayweather, his background of being a champion, that's a no-brainer. And I've always said I wanted to do a franchise at some point. Having a group of people who were experts in running successful businesses, and not having to do it on your own — that appealed to me.

Related: 10 Ways the Pandemic Transformed Franchising

In addition to government relief programs, how did you stay afloat during the pandemic?

We did virtual workouts at no cost until we could open back up. There was no income coming in at all, but we took all the precautions to make people feel safe, so if they were willing to come in, we were there.

Did you experience growing pains as an early franchisee?

In a growing franchise, your once-small, very close-knit team will expand. So your initial person, who you've bonded with since discovery day, may no longer be your go-to person. The positive side to this, of course, is that the brand is growing and bringing on additional experts to ensure our overall success.

Image Credit: Courtesy of Mayweather Boxing + Fitness

What were some things that didn't work at first?

In some instances, we found ourselves switching to a new contract with a different vendor because they were not meeting the needs of the brand. We also had equipment that didn't look like newer franchisees' equipment due to changes here and there in the equipment package, which made our fairly new studio look different from the others. But the franchisor recognized this and provided ways for us to make the updates if we desired. There were also tweaks to class programming, due to feedback directly from us franchisees and our customers on what was or wasn't working. The main point here is that nothing starts off perfect. Being at the front end of a franchise means you will endure trial and error, and you must be patient and nimble enough to endure. Overall, it's exciting to be a part of a journey like this.

Related: Their Dad Passed Away Just After Buying a Batteries Plus Franchise. They Opened the Location In His Honor.

What's one of the ways that you've learned to empower other women in the studio?

It's really great to see women, or anyone for that matter, come out of their shells when they start hitting the bag confidently. With the ladies, I don't know what it is about them and their upper bodies that they feel like they don't have the strength to do stuff, but I talk women out of doing modified push-ups. If you dedicate yourself to it, you can do full push-ups. They just have to work on it and build their strength up.

Kim Kavin was an editorial staffer at newspapers and magazines for a decade before going full-time freelance in 2003. She has written for The Washington Post, NBC’s ThinkThe Hill and more about the need to protect independent contractor careers. She co-founded the grassroots, nonpartisan, self-funded group Fight For Freelancers.

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