The Camp Transformation Center Franchise Story
How frustration with common gyms gave birth to The Camp
As bodybuilders and personal trainers, Dr. Saman Bakhtiar and Alejandra Font saw a problem with the fitness industry in 2010. The personal training model was broken and expensive and gym membership lacked the results and customer service that was needed. They had the vision to open up a gym of their own, but not one filled with unnecessary equipment and weights. But rather, a space that they could fill with boot camps of people with a specific goal in mind, who could work to accomplish this goal as a team, all on one specific plan.
Enter, The Camp Transformation Center. Sam, whose extensive history in bodybuilding and personal training has resulted in awards spanning decades of work, figured that a regimen of working out five days-a-week, coupled with a high-protein, low-fat diet, would result in the weight loss he sought for his clients. To get clients in the door and to show off the results, Sam and Alejandra could get from these participants, they decided to offer a completely unique offer: a challenge to lose 20 pounds.
“They need to know that they have a specific goal that takes a specific amount of time,” Sam says. “You could come for six weeks and lose 20 pounds. Then I’m going to refund you the money that you invested in an exchange for your before-and-after picture.”
The first group went through the program, and the vast majority lost the 20 pounds. Sam and Alejandra knew they were onto something and that they could get more challengers, but the real surprise was the response from those who lost the weight.
“When people came in and weighed and I was about to give them a refund check, most of them were kind of offended,” Sam says. “They asked me ‘Do you not want me to continue? I want to keep going. This is the best I’ve felt and looked in years – I never want to go back to where I used to be.”
The Camp’s growth explodes, changing lives across the country
From this initial program, The Camp Transformation Center was born and Alejandra, her husband Luis, and Sam began opening up Camp’s across Southern California and filling them with new members ready to take part in the Six-Week Weight Loss Challenge. This created communities of people who not only had before-and-after weight loss pictures they were proud of and posted online but devoted fans whose lives had been transformed and couldn’t get enough of The Camp and its culture.
“We have a very keen understanding that our product is fitness, but that our business is people,” Alejandra says. “It’s important to treat people well, and that starts with the staff and trickles down to your clients. It’s going to be this beautiful circle of everyone being happy and treating each other with respect and kindness, and creating an environment where people feel comfortable, acknowledged and welcomed. And that’s what separates us from any other gym.”
Younger fitness enthusiasts like Erick Salgado and Xavier Sanchez joined the team, helped grow the program and, eventually, franchises of their own. Salgado grew franchises inland in Riverside, Redlands and Palm Desert, while Sanchez grew locations in Fontana, San Dimas and Huntington Beach. The franchise concept for The Camp quickly took off, and Challenge-participants whose lives had been transformed like Michelle and Jeff Croteau started opening up franchises outside of California. Alejandra and Sam had started the weight-loss program, but it was the franchisees across the country who poured their hearts into their respective communities and changed the lives of the people.
“The people who come into our gyms don’t care about how much you know,” Michelle says. “They want to know how much you care. Because when people are going through the challenges of weight loss, it’s a very emotional thing for them. It’s one of the hardest things you can do. And so it is my job, and my husband’s job, to make sure people feel like family, that people don’t just walk into a gym and feel like they’re just another number.”
With devoted fans now across the country, The Camp has grown at an astounding pace. At nearly 100 locations now nationwide, Alejandra and Sam’s vision has grown like a fire and they feel fortunate now to not just help change the lives of the Challengers at their Camp locations, but also the new franchisees.
“Seeing the transformations and those before-and-after pictures was my biggest fulfillment for a long time,” Sam says. “But now, I have something even bigger, and that’s the franchisees telling me, ‘Sam, before I owned a Camp, I never dreamed of living the way I am, making an impact on people’s lives like this and living with the freedom I now have.’ To me, that’s the ultimate fulfillment.”