In this exclusive Q&A, we explore the future of fitness and chat through the business benefits behind building an ecosystem with Burn Boot Camp’s co-founder and CEO, Devan Kline.
Franchise Chatter (FC): Thanks for speaking with us today, Devan. Can you give us some background on Burn Boot Camp?
Devan Kline (DK): Thanks for having me, and of course. My wife Morgan and I founded Burn Boot Camp back in 2012. We are a unique national fitness brand where like-minded women and men can come together, build confidence and inspire one another through fitness.
Burn Boot Camp started as a female-focused boutique gym with a mission and passion for empowering communities of women through fitness. Since then, it has evolved into a movement, lifestyle and community. We refer to ourselves as #BurnNation and have around 300 franchises open and operating with dozens more in development.
Recently, Burn Boot Camp has cultivated a following from both men and women alike, offering up an opportunity for friends, partners and entire families to work out together. Burn Boot Camp offers 45-minute circuit style workout camps through highly innovative daily programs crafted by certified personal trainers.
Morgan and I wanted Burn Boot Camp to be more than a gym, we wanted it to be a one-stop-shop to maintain a healthy, well-rounded lifestyle. We pride ourselves on our 360-degree approach to fitness and serve as an accountability partner for all members. Burn Boot Camp focuses on and cares deeply about the whole member – mental, emotional and physical health – and offers support for all those areas throughout their fitness journey.
FC: You’ve created an ecosystem at Burn Boot Camp. What does that mean to you?
DK: An ecosystem is when every aspect and integrated element of your business is working together to create and maintain something bigger than the business entity itself. Each person, department, franchise partner and member plays a vital role in this interconnected system.
From a business standpoint, we want to ensure that Burn Boot Camp provides everything our team and members need and want, so there’s no need to search elsewhere. Our ecosystem gives members access to conveniently schedule a camp through our app, stream a workout from home or drop their child off while they sneak in a session.
Business owners and their teams must be mindful when building a system like this, but ultimately – just like an ecosystem in nature – this system is self-sustained. We all rely on each other and couldn’t operate without everyone doing their specific job or every piece of technology in place. This creates a culture of teamwork, accountability, innovation, adaptability and allows us to be a forward-thinking company, catching every curve-ball life throws at us.
FC: What is the importance of building an ecosystem in the work place?
DK: When done right, ecosystems in the business place are well-balanced, and able to withstand constantly changing, ever-growing environments. Most recently, we witnessed first-hand the strength of our business ecosystem as we – like many other businesses – navigated the COVID-19 pandemic. It allows you and your company to embrace change, innovate, and move towards the shared vision of maintaining the balance and routine that our teams, franchise partners and members come to us for.
The fitness industry was forever changed by the pandemic, and moving forward, it will become essential to the business longevity for brands to build ecosystems, making their business model accessible from every channel. Fitness concepts will need brick & mortar locations for those craving in-person community, but they’ll also need a strong online platform to cater to those that would prefer to stay home. Every business decision is made based on the team, franchise partners and members – the system cannot be sustained without them.
And, with a growing network of franchise partners, our ecosystem continues to expand and evolve, making it that much more important for our team to streamline systems and processes for our partners to achieve this well-balanced environment in their business.
FC: In your opinion, what is the most important part of the ecosystem?
DK: The people hands-down. Not only our trainers, but our members as well. We obviously wouldn’t be able to operate without them – no business could. That’s why we put an emphasis on creating an environment where our trainers and members thrive.
In the world of fitness, much of your team is made up of trainers. Training is an art and personal trainers tend to be artistic. The last thing a gym should do is pigeon hole their trainers into only using machines or training through a screen all the time. Allowing your trainers to have some freedom will result in new, creative workouts and overall happiness for everyone involved.
I’ve personally helped train over 1,500 of our members, and understand first-hand the struggles that people experience in life. I’ve been that person, so I know how that makes someone feel. When people walk through our doors, Burn Boot Camp becomes a safe place for them to receive the encouragement they need. Now that I’m out of that place in my life, I know how important it is to make sure our members leave each camp feeling confident, strong and valued. It’s so important for gyms to see their members as more than a number or swipe.
At Burn Boot Camp, we offer nutritional guidance, membership flexibility, a tight-knit, supportive community and complimentary Childwatch – a rarity in the industry. We’re also selective in who we onboard as franchise partners. Many Burn Boot Camp franchise partners were previously members who have a passion to train their community and are incredibly hands-on. We’re not an absentee franchise model – our franchise partners are invested in the well-being of each of their members.
FC: What has been the biggest change you’ve seen in the fitness industry over the last few years?
DK: In the age of acceptance and body positivity, people are realizing that fitness is much more than a bikini body or 6-pack abs. There is a shift happening, where it’s more about “how you feel” vs. “how you look.” Fitness needs to be all-encompassing, going beyond physical fitness to help achieve mental and emotional wellness as well. This is a concept that Burn Boot Camp has latched on to and it has allowed our members to grow holistically.
Gyms need to start using fitness as a tool, not a destination. When you do that, you help members become people who do hard things. Fitness gives people character and confidence, which will no doubt trickle into every other aspect of their lives.
FC: Where is the fitness industry heading? What trends should gym owners be aware of?
DK: We live in a society that is constantly evolving, which means our way of operating needs to adjust with it. Creating a business ecosystem is fantastic for when things are running smoothly and routinely, but when you introduce new technology or expand quickly, it’s important to give your network some time to acclimate. Due to this, I’ve found that our team needs to remain three steps ahead, so that implementing new software, technology or franchise locations doesn’t disturb the balance we’ve worked so hard to achieve.
It’s critical to have a pulse on emerging technology like virtual reality and Microsoft Mesh – which is an up-and-coming mixed-reality technology that allows people to connect through holographic experiences, regardless of their physical location, and always be looking for ways to incorporate it. Voice commerce will be big. By 2025, the voice and speech recognition market is projected to hit $26.8 billion. If you aren’t already thinking about how this technology may play a role in your industry, then you risk slowly falling behind.
There’s also a lot of discussion around fitness moving away from physical locations, but I believe we’ll see a trend of brands offering both a digital platform and in-person option for your members. If the pandemic showed businesses anything, it’s the importance of having a digital platform and additional revenue streams, like e-commerce, etc. People still crave the connection and community aspect of in-person gyms. It’s about striking a balance between the two, so you can meet your members wherever they are and be accessible at any time.
Burn Boot Camp fared well during the pandemic because we have a strong, self-sustaining ecosystem in place that allowed us to weather the storm while transitioning to digital content when in-person workouts weren’t an option. In challenging times, people need community more than ever – and that’s exactly what we witnessed. Our members rely on our services for their well-being, so we pivoted and found a way to quickly get them what they needed.
FC: If people are interested in learning more about Burn Boot Camp, where can they find more information?
DK: They can head to burnbootcamp.com to learn more about our story and find their nearest location. We’re located in 39 states and just reached our 300th gym milestone. Our goal is to have 400 open gyms by the end of 2021, so everyone can experience the #BurnCommunity. We’re always looking for franchise partners who are driven to make a difference in their community through the power of fitness. If you’re interested in franchising, you can head to franchise.burnbootcamp.com.