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Community Highlights: Meet Brian Brando of B-Fit Lifestyle

Today we’d like to introduce you to Brian Brando.

Hi Brian, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
I am where I am today in business and my personal life because of family and a life-changing event involving significant adversity and growth due to experiencing this adverse event. Three years after this event and the job I had during this time, I was laid off due to lack of work and being the bottom man on the management totem pole (Feb 2015). So, while slowly and unenthusiastically looking for a new job in the same industry (industrial contracting/general contracting), my family suggested that I start personal training as a side job because they knew how much I loved working out. After a week of thought on this suggestion, I said, “f**k it, I’m making this [fitness professional] my full-time job.” So, I went to the large local gym and asked if they were hiring personal trainers. Even with no experience other than being an athlete my entire life, I was fortunate that the Personal Training manager was willing to give me a shot. I found a personal training certification program that I passed with flying colors and started this new role within a month of getting offered the job (April 2015). Clients had to be earned; almost none were given to me. So, to make money while I built my training business, I got a job at a local restaurant [Mama’s on the Half Shell] as a runner/busser, which later led to a serving position. For the first year, I worked about 90 hours a week, going from gym to restaurant and back to the gym to make ends meet. Then a year in, I left the restaurant to go full-time as a personal trainer, having built my training income up to the required level. Six months later, I was asked if I wanted to be a part of a 3 person PT leadership team that would help the manager organize and run the personal training department at this gym. My two peers who put my name in the hat for the 3rd position saw my potential as a leader. I accepted the role and was on to the next challenge of learning how to be a leader and manager in the fitness industry. A few months into this new role (~October 2016), our manager was let go, and now the three of us Team Leads took over complete management of the PT department. Together, over the next 3 years, we broke down and rebuilt an incredible family of trainers, resulting in a $1.4 million dollar training department within our gym. At this point, three years later, I could not grow any further as a fitness professional at this gym for a couple of reasons. I decided I was going to leave to start my own business. I didn’t plan to open a gym. I wanted to go to another smaller gym and pay them a monthly fee. It turned out not to be best for either party, so at that point, less than 2 months before leaving the large gym, I decided I had to start my own gym. When I decide to do something, I do my best to do it no matter what. So, even though the negotiations with the other small gym didn’t work out, I was still determined to leave the large gym. With help from two clients, I set up an LLC and secured a lease for 1800sft in the Highland Forges development at 1 N Haven Street (November 2019). At the same time, maybe within a month of getting into the new space, I purchased all the basic equipment and materials needed with my own money. And I was fortunate to have about 75% of my clients choose to follow me on this new adventure and next challenge, owning and operating a fitness studio. My grand opening was very successful. However, it was 51 days before the Covid Pandemic hit Maryland and shut everything down.

I was quickly onto the next, biggest challenge I’ll likely ever face: operating and keeping a business alive in a global pandemic. Thanks to family support, my loyal clients, and my experience as an Eagle Scout, I could quickly adapt and hardly lose any business. During that first year, we went through my entire 5-year business plan, having to change the plan every 3-4 months as restrictions and rules changed. I was fortunate to have my fiancee (now wife), a massage therapist of 10 years, brings her business to my gym because the previous location she was working at still had not opened back up fully. Side note, we were supposed to get married 2 weeks after the pandemic hit. Flash forward 2 years, and we have now married business partners and took over the 6500sqft space in the same community next to my original lease. Now together, we are taking on the challenge of running a full gym operation; we’re not a baby studio anymore!

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
It has been both smooth and rough. It was smooth regarding all the support from family, friends, and clients. It was rough because I had to learn a completely new industry, grow rapidly within it, hires/lose/replace staff, and of course. The two biggest challenges of operating in a pandemic in my first business within the first 3 months and now learning to build and run a major operation in our new 6500sqft space.

Great, so let’s talk business. Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
We are a health and wellness space offering fitness, nutrition, accountability, massage therapy, and physical therapy services. People should be here if they want to move and recover their bodies. Our coaching staff always puts technique first, ensuring people move well and comfortably. And our massage and physical therapy team treats the individual, meaning they don’t apply the same treatment to every person. They work specifically with the individual’s problem. Because we are hard-set to make sustainable change in people’s lives, we start each person with a consultation and then offer the best options for getting started. Our most popular service is the 6 Week Challenge, which includes fitness, nutrition, and accountability – it’s a great place to get started for those who want to focus on improving their general health and wellbeing.

Is there something surprising that you feel even people who know you might not know about?
First, my wife and I met in a construction trailer at the large local gym where I started personal training. Second, the significant adverse event I went through and grew from tremendously in the following years due to my willingness to grow was spending 90 days in jail.

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