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Business In Shape: Zyn22 muscles up on fitness trends

In Shape: Zyn22 muscles up on fitness trends

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Zyn22 Fort Worth

3236 West 7th Street

Fort Worth 76107

817-778-4133

zyn22.com

Mark Page’s transition from the investment world to owning a niche fitness business was a bit of a risk but he knew it would it will help him achieve his personal zen.

As a former football player, Page has always been passionate about working out and staying fit. In his professional life, he has been equally dedicated to success.

If only there were a way to combine the two? Page wrestled with the idea for a good while before deciding to shift his dream into gear.

In January 2015, Page, along with his wife, Melissa, and business partner Johnny Pannell, founded Zyn22 with its first studio on West 7th Street in Fort Worth. Before long, the boutique spin-cycling studio expanded its brand to four locations in Dallas-Fort Worth, including Southlake, where Page lives with his family.

Page has high hopes for expansion with a goal of perhaps making of Zyn22 a national brand.

In the meantime, he is in the process of expanding the fitness opportunities at the existing studios.

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) has already been introduced in the Fort Worth studio, which is still Zyn22’s most profitable location. The other Tarrant County studio is in Southlake. The remaining two are located in Dallas, in Uptown and near NorthPark shopping center.

The goal of Zyn22 was to tap into hottest new trend in fitness, he said. The company name offers a different spin on the word “zen” and combines it with the number 22, which represents a perfect circle in numerology.

“The traditional gym as we know it is dying,” Page said. In its place, is “this new wave of boutique fitness where people are going to choose multiple things, we call them modalities.

“So they are going to do yoga, and they’re going to do spin and they’re going to do like a boot camp, we call that HIIT,” he said. “They’re going to do three types of workouts and they’re going to be able to buy a package of classes and that’s how they are going to be fit going forward.”

DANCING ON A BIKE

The Zyn22 experience in some ways channels the fitness explosion of the 1980s and 1990s with the introduction of aerobics classes offering fast-paced, intense dance-like movement classes to heart-pounding music.

Zyn22 spin classes are billed as “dancing on a bike” led by “rock star” instructors. Spin classes at each of the Zyn22 studios take place in a large room called “The Dome,” where about 50 bikes are positioned on stadium-style risers with clear views of the instructor.

The room is dark except for the flashing bright lights that provide illumination. Heart-pounding music sets the pace for the high-intensity workout that combines cardio and strength intervals.

“They do a really good job of challenging us,” said Alyssa Larson of Colleyville, who has attended nearly 200 classes at the Southlake studio. “It really is like dancing on a bike. It’s a great cardio workout.”

As Page was contemplating starting a fitness business, he knew it would debut in Fort Worth because he always considered Fort Worth to be his career home.

A native of West Texas, Page grew up playing football in Midland with an eye on following in his father’s footsteps of playing college ball.

“I’m from a family of quarterbacks,” Page said. “My dad grew up on a farm. The only way he got off the farms was to get a scholarship to go play football in college. My dad was quarterback at [the University of Oklahoma].

“I learned my competitiveness and determination from my dad,” he said.

Page, 53, was a back-up quarterback at Baylor University.

After earning his degree in finance and marketing from Baylor, Page went to work for Merrill Lynch, starting in Denver but soon transferring to Fort Worth.

After about 20 years of working his way up the ranks in the brokerage business, Page had an opportunity to start an investment firm with a long-time friend from Midland, who also was one of his clients.

Page and Jeff Dillard formed Tailwind Advisors in 2008 and launched it in 2009, during the height of the recession.

“The first three months out of the gate were brutal and baptism by fire, he recalled. “But then everything was – even though it didn’t feel like it always – was really up from there.”

Turns out, “it was a good time to start a firm and make some good investments, and I believe that’s what we did.”

Tailwind is a boutique-type firm that specialized in working with wealthy individuals and select businesses. The firm’s focus was investing in businesses across sectors such as oil and gas, real estate and technology. The firm launched at a particularly good time for real estate investment

“Everything that we bought, we bought distressed,” he said. “We just bought distressed assets and good solid businesses, or good solid real estate, and just watched them flourish.”

Page said his involvement with Tailwind was great learning experience that provided insight into a lot of different business models and investments. It was much more hands-on than being part of an investment committee.

As a self-proclaimed “gym rat,” with a wife who is the drill team instructor at Carroll High School, Page had a close-up view to the emergence of the boutique fitness movement that drew men crossfit workouts and women to barre classes.

Page paid close attention as this new wave fitness movement started going viral, particularly in New York and Los Angeles.

“It was like people were addicted to it and there were these great ambassadors for these brands, it really sparked my curiosity to the point where it kept me up at night,” he said.

By early 2014, Page found himself at a crossroads.

“I got the point where I was like, ‘All right, Lord, either give this to me or take it away from me,’ ” he said. One weekend in February 2014, he packed his bag for a weekend trip to Los Angeles for a look at this fitness craze first hand.

“I saw it and it was awesome, and I knew it didn’t exist in Texas,” Page said. “I really felt like it would work and so I decided to come back to seed a business with some capital and launch it.”

Page continued to work at Tailwind, which had grown to four partners, until finally announcing at the end of the year that he wanted to leave the firm to launch a new fitness brand. The exit transaction was completed quickly and the Fort Worth Zyn22 studio opened in January 2015.

Tailwind now has more than $1.1 billion in assets under management, according to a recent U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing.

LEAP OF FAITH

Page acknowledges that the move involved a leap of faith. Competition ramped up as other investors picked up on the viral nature of the fitness trend, particularly in Dallas.

Zyn22 has hit some bumps typical of a startup but Page said has relied on his business acumen to cut costs and improve efficiency.

“We have all our studios profitable,” he said. “We’ve got our business now where it feels like we know what we’re doing.”

Zyn22 has become a known brand in the fitness industry and is on the radar of prospective investors, Page said, particularly since it has a strong following among millennials, who are willing to spend about $200 a month on fitness that seems more like fun than tedious.

To keep the momentum going, the company is committed to innovation and always being on the forefront of the latest type of workout or technology.

Currently, remodeling is planned or underway to add HIIT at all locations.

After that will come further expansion, Page said.

“We’re going to Oklahoma City and then we have three other cities that we’re actively looking for locations that fit our demographic,” he said.

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