Corporate HQ of Anytime Fitness was more fun than working out when I was in Hastings to interview co-founders Chuck Runyon and Dave Mortensen. They were getting intimately acquainted with their new franchise, Waxing the City, which has four salons in Denver and one in Dallas. Runyon and Mortensen have purchased majority ownership rights in the waxing company. In December, Minnesota will get its first Waxing the City salon when they open one in Woodbury.
"From one little club in Cambridge, Minnesota, 10 years ago, Anytime Fitness is now the largest co-ed fitness chain the world," said Anytime's national media director Mark Daly, the former standout reporter for KARE11. "We've got nearly 2,000 clubs in 12 countries, serving 1.5 million members. And it's fun to work here. It's our 10th anniversary, we're opening our 2000th club, and now we're diversifying. We will begin franchising Waxing the City in April. Chuck and Dave are considering opening other types of franchises. Nothing is definitive right now. They are looking for franchising opportunities to take cool business models and franchise them all over the world."
Before Runyon and Mortensen do that, there was the fun monkey-business of torturing each while having hair ripped off of legs and out of armpits. There's hair-raising video featuring the partner with the high tolerance for pain taunting the other with the child-like whine, "Call my mom."
Q Got hair, Chuck?
CR I no longer have hairy bottoms of my legs. Although it was a painful experience, I like it better than I thought.
Q Why not just offer waxing services at your Anytime Fitness clubs?
DM Waxing is a speciality service just like fitness. It's private, it's intimate, and we wanted to make sure we provided a boutique style and be involved with a franchise system that really cares for one thing.
Q What's so special about WTC that you don't just create a one-stop shop fitness center, waxing salon, etc.?
DM Our future may be filled with other franchise plans, but we are so enthused about Waxing the City because right now they deliver an incredible client experience. We're very attracted to not only their philosophy but the four gals [CEO Robin Schoh, CFO Marilyn Hartshorn and directors of training Summer Vasilas and Alex Jimenez] behind Waxing the City. Very smart, very passionate; going to be exceptional partners for us.
Q Are you just bored, now that you're millionaires?
DM I think we're more passionate today than we've ever been. We believe in improving a person's life experience, and this is one life experience [where] everyone gets a little relief, a little bit of joy out of -- I see it in my own partner today.
CR We love the challenge. Business is fun, it's challenging. It allows for a lot of personal growth opportunities as well as working with people you have a great deal of fun with. Money is one small area, among life's successes, among things you value.
Q Have you thought of other marketing slogans?
DM Oh yes. "Wax On, Wax Off." We're really fans of Waxing the City, that's how we became a part of their brand.
CR In this one you can be a little bit clever, provocative. I wrote a book recently called "Working Out Sucks." I was thinking... The gals created the name, created the brand. We're just here to help [it grow] in franchising. But let me [be] very clear: There are five stores, they're doing an exceptional job right now. We just want to add to that. We don't want to mess up some of the magic they currently have.
Q Which one of the "Sex and the City" stars would you most enjoy hearing visited Waxing the City?
DM Sarah Jessica Parker.
Q What do Shannon Runyon and Nicolle Mortensen think about their, by all reports, happily married husbands embarking on this venture?
CR After tonight she's going to have a whole new level of love for Waxing the City. I'll phone in my comments [later, after Shannon checks out Chuck's silky new legs].
Q Joe Mauer was your Anytime Fitness spokesperson for a couple years. Who's your dream WTC spokesmodel?
DM My wife. Maybe Halle Berry.
CR I was thinking more Big Foot or Sasquatch.
Q Dave, when are you getting waxed?
DM Right after this interview.
Interviews are edited. Reach C.J. at firstname.lastname@example.org and see her on Fox 9.