Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Gracor Aims to Reinvent Idea of Personal Training; His Company Charges by the Hour, Not Dues, and Gives Trainers Benefits

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Gracor Aims to Reinvent Idea of Personal Training; His Company Charges by the Hour, Not Dues, and Gives Trainers Benefits

Article excerpt

Byline: ANGELA DRYDEN

If someone were asked to name a health club company, many names would likely spring to mind. But what about a personal training company?

Brett Chepenik, president of Gracor Fitness, is aiming to push personal training companies toward national recognition, starting with his own.

"It's my belief that the personal training industry is a very fragmented industry, Chepenik said. "And no one has really taken that systemic approach to being that nationally recognized personal training company."

Chepenik, 34, started Gracor Fitness, a Jacksonville-based personal training company, in 1999 as a single location in San Marco. He has since sold that location, and now has a facility in Jacksonville Beach, and has formed partnerships with Gold's Gym downtown and several World Gym locations to provide personal training services. Gracor also has an alliance with the Amelia Island Plantation, where it was recently named manager of the resort's fitness facility.

Chepenik is helping to cement Gracor's future by expanding with its first franchise, which will be in the greater Jacksonville area. He and Chris Evans, vice president of Gracor, also have plans for a Web-based personal training component for its Web site in the near future.

And it seems that people in Jacksonville are willing to pay for personal training: Gracor has an annual revenue of $3 million, and about 3,000 clients on a yearly basis, according to Chepenik. But the business isn't focused on making money -- it's about changing lives.

"It's not about the numbers, it's a commitment to try and make people healthier," Chepenik said.

Chepenik said he knew he was passionate about training after he took a year off from college to manage a health club in the Atlanta area. But he found the industry to be very limited, and after graduating with a business degree from Emory University, the Episcopal High School grad decided he wanted his family to grow up in the Jacksonville area, where most of his family still lives. It wasn't until he had a bad stint working for a commercial septic waste company in town that he started forming the concept for Gracor. …

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