Growing up, multi-unit Fit Body Boot Camp franchise owner Matt Wilber never had to worry about having enough underwear, socks, boots, a jacket or gloves. It’s safe to say, most people take owning those items for granted. That’s why Matt was saddened to learn that there were thousands of children in his Grand Rapids, Michigan, market that go without them.
But, Matt, a guy in his early 30s who owns seven Fit Body Boot Camp gyms in west Michigan, is not one to rest on his laurels. He started a charity, The Big Give, to help these kids in 2013, not long after he opened his first gym. Every year, Matt and his teams raise money for school supplies and Christmas presents. Since then, he and his teams have raised more than $420,000 and helped 1,700 kids. During the last six years, Matt has experienced an unintended consequence of his good deeds: Business is booming.
Business Investment in Community is an Obligation
“One day I was talking with one of our clients, who was a social worker, and she was discussing the need in our community. After hearing her speak, I knew I had to do something,” Matt said. “The stories that we hear of the impact that we are having drives us to want to do even more.”
For instance, as Matt was shopping for the kids in his communities this year, a woman approached and thanked him. Matt and his teams helped her out two years ago when she was out of work and couldn’t afford to buy Christmas gifts for her two sons. But, thanks to The Big Give, the woman told Matt, her sons enjoyed a wonderful gift-filled holiday.
Each year, with every new Fit Body Boot Camp that Matt opens, donations increase dramatically. In that first year, after being open less than three months, he and his two team members raised $3,400 from their 200 clients. In subsequent years, the amount has steadily risen. During the 2019 holiday season, Matt’s 5,000 clients donated $160,000.
“As a local business owner, I believe we are called to serve the communities that support us,” Matt said. “If you have the ability to do something to help others you should.”
Team Members are Part of Something Bigger than a Fitness Business
This holiday season, Matt and members from his seven Fit Body Boot Camp teams went Christmas shopping for 700 kids with the funds they raised. The buy-in from all 65 team members at Matt’s gyms is easy to obtain. After all, the mission of the charitable efforts is the same as Fit Body Boot Camp’s mission – to change lives every day.
Being a good neighbor inside and outside the walls of every Fit Body Boot Camp gym is a guiding part of the brand’s DNA that Matt takes seriously. His teams do, too, as each member takes ownership of the back-to-school and holiday fundraisers.
“This is as much their charity as it is mine,” Matt said. “They go above and beyond to drive donations. They are the ones motivating and encouraging clients to donate, they are the ones creating relationships with local businesses. They are the ones working with the social workers and the stores and coordinating everything. Giving back is at the foundation of our business, and talking about how we give back starts with the interview process. If that isn’t something you value, most likely you won’t want to work with our company. The truth is, everyone wants to be a part of something bigger than themselves, and this is something that is bigger than anyone.”
What Happens when the Community Notices you Care
Matt’s gyms are packed with clients. He attributes his large and growing client base to the fact that every one of his Fit Body Boot Camp gyms is a prominent member of their community, genuinely working to make it a better place to live.
“If you want to succeed, you need to be more than a gym and more than just a good workout,” Matt said. “So many of our clients say that they are proud to be a part of our gym because of how much we give back to our community. We work hard to be the best 30 minutes of our client’s day – the product and service you provide to your clients must be great. But, when you combine that with being known for giving back to your community, you can create something that is truly special.”