Taking no days off proves key to successful fitness business

Taking no days off proves key to successful fitness business

Manning Sumner

Taking no days off is the way one entrepreneur and former athlete built his brand in business and in iife. Manning Sumner subscribes to the theory that consistency is the key to success, and he is living proof.

Starting his day at 4:15 a.m., he gets up and going with the same routine. Once at work, no two days are alike for Sumner who runs a fast-growing fitness business that will have six locations by early 2018. He is the founder and owner of Legacy Fit, a bootcamp-style fitness studio that teaches class goers how to reach their personal best through physical training and its proprietary “No Days Off” philosophy.

“A lot of people think that ‘No Days Off’ means you have to workout every single day. That could be part of it, but doesn’t have to be,” Sumner said. “It’s simple guidance for life.”

Born and raised in Birmingham, AL, by a family of athletes, Sumner, 40, caught the sports bug early in life. Following in his father’s footsteps, he went on to play college football for the Auburn University Tigers in 1996. But, his dream of going “pro” was diverted quickly from playing to coaching when he broke his back for the second time while playing linebacker in his redshirt junior year.

“It was one of the toughest, yet most motivating times in my life. I developed the drive to overcome, which made me realize that performance is less about what’s possible and more about what you believe is possible. It’s your mindset more than your talent,” Sumner said.

Soon after, Sumner was led to a career in coaching. He worked in college athletics and fitness facilities with a focus on strength and conditioning. Sumner brought his experience to Miami in 2001 at the suggestion of an old friend in the entertainment business.

He recounts the story with a chuckle.

“A model friend of mine called me and said, ‘Bad Boys II is looking for a body double. If you shave your head right now and move to Miami, the role is yours.’ I figured I had nothing to lose, so I did it.

“I got the role, had my cameo on the ‘big screen,’ and quickly adjusted to life in Miami.”

Once in Miami, Sumner started a weekly beach workout with some old football friends and their friends including Sidney Rice, Trey Sanford, Stephen Tulloch, Charles Johnson, Shaun Livingston and Joe Johnson. Year after year, they kept coming back.

Sumner realized he could turn the workouts into a business.

“In 2009, I opened a 2,500-square-foot facility on NE 24th and Second [Avenue] — before it was the trendy area of Midtown/Wynwood. People thought I was crazy,” he said.

But, the pro-athletes loved it and that’s what mattered. NFL, NBA and MLB players started coming to Miami to train with Sumner. As his profile grew, he was brought in to train A-list actors and celebrity artists from around the country.

It wasn’t long after the facility opened that Sumner saw the demand for bootcamp-style training among non-athletes. He began offering a customizable bootcamp class twice weekly in 2011, using the same space and the same equipment he used for the professionals.

He designed a proprietary Partner Interval Training (PIT) program, based on high intensity training and push-pull techniques that maximize fat burning and strength building at the same time. The workout was designed around moveable stations, so members never get the same experience twice.

“The day I partnered Marion Barber with an older woman who didn’t have much experience in a gym, I knew it was risky. By the end of the 60-min workout, they were high-fiving. I knew the concept would work,” Sumner recalled.

Since then, he has been refining the model to make sure that people both get a good, sweaty workout, and that the experience makes them want to come back.

“It took me a while to get the model just right. I had to figure out a way to make sure people at all different levels could do the workout, and that they didn’t get bored,” he said. “The partner match-ups and the class flow are key. There are dozens of workout gyms, but few workout communities. We are a place for people who want to do life together.”

Sumner did indeed “get it right.” Legacy Fit’s first location in Wynwood has quadrupled in size, and they will open two more in Miami in fall 2017.

Legacy Fit Coral Gables opens on Sept. 11th at 22 Merrick Way, and the location in Doral will open at City Place, 3470 NW 82 Ave, in October.

For schedules and more information, visit www.legacyfit.com.

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