For serial entrepreneurs, often it’s not the businesses they develop that defines them, but the passion to be in business itself. For these rare individuals, it is more about the opportunity of business – the philosophical, reflective, problem solving and learning parts – that hold all the appeal.
As Erik Hughes, president of Hughes and Associates and owner of multiple Anytime Fitness locations and a number of other flourishing business endeavors explained: “The essential elements of leading and managing any business are pretty similar.”
Which is why successful CEOs can move from one sector to another or why business management and leadership can be taught in MBA programs around the world.
“I love the businesses I am in,” he said, “but my eyes are always looking for the right opportunity to plug into the community.”
Hughes has owned and operated as many as five Anytime Fitness locations, although most recently it’s down to three, with other’s planned in Viera, Kissimmee and Ocala. A fourth generation Melbourne resident, his great grandfather was part of the group that dug the Tillman Canal back when Palm Bay was called “Tillman,” and that pioneer type of daring is clearly what motivates his entrepreneurialism.
HANGING WITH MIKE
Scanning his office will clue you into how Hughes cut his business teeth. The walls are covered floor to ceiling with autographed sports jerseys, souvenirs from the time he worked for a company in Orlando that booked celebrity athletes for events and endorsements for over a decade, hanging with megastars like Mike Tyson and a constellation of NBA, NFL, MLB and PGA stars. When he and his wife moved back to Melbourne, he started working out at Anytime Fitness and that prompted him to decide to buy into the franchise.
His acumen in bringing the businesses to profitability enabled Hughes to buy and sell several locations, while maintaining gyms as far north as Atlanta. The attraction was that the business had good potential, and by training a professional staff to run a particular location, he was free to open other locations or delve into different business tracks. In fact, he stayed in the sports booking and endorsement arena for three years while building and acquiring Anytime Fitness businesses.
“I have too much energy to just do one thing all day, whether it is gyms or construction or technology startups; if I can mitigate the risk, see an opportunity and it makes sense, I’ll dive right in”
Further, he explained, national fitness brands that have been perfected in other parts of the country are now coming in droves to the Space Coast, a double-edged sword that helps the Anytime Fitness operation organizationally, but also introduces competition from other brands.
Anytime Fitness is open to all, but especially to those who want the kind of customized, accountability-driven programs that are in sync with their lifestyle.
“We are not just a 24-hour gym. We want to empower and coach people to meet their goals and to feel and see the types of results they are after. We have technology like body scanners and heart rate monitors and workout and nutrition apps. Our coaches and staff are nationally-accredited and we have equipment that is not available at other fitness facilities on the Space Coast.
Unlike some gyms that focus on a low-cost model with no accountability, Anytime Fitness puts a premium on assisting people in understanding what is necessary to achieve their objectives.
“For the people who are motived and are looking for the tools to make a change, whether that is lose weight or train, our facilities and personnel are second to none,” he said. “We cater to the person, to quality, not really the masses, plus there are 4,500 locations worldwide that our members have access to.”
One of the technologies used at Anytime Fitness is the Evolt 360 Body Scanner. Without this type of technology, people might get discouraged if they don’t see or feel progress is being achieved. This tool allows them to understand the numbers and keep pushing towards their goals. “For instance, by working out, someone may replace five pounds of fat with five pounds of muscle, but the scale is still showing the same weight, therefore they think what they are doing isn’t helping.” The scanner measures skeletal muscle mass, total body water, bone mineral content, body fat percentage and more.
FROM ANYTIME TO MANY THINGS
Pre-Covid, Hughes’ gym on Wickham Road in Suntree was on track to be one of the top Anytime Fitness gyms in the nation. “We were hitting milestones at a pace that was unheard of in the industry. The community in Suntree and surrounding areas is amazing and knew it was a smart choice to bring a fitness facility back to the area,” he said.
He continues the Hughes legacy of building up the community and investing in Brevard. (father was fire chief in Satellite Beach, Grandfather was a general contractor in Brevard and great grandfather owned a Texaco station, helped dig multiple canals in Brevard County, and was a charter member of the First Baptist Church of Melbourne.
With the gym business more stabilized, Hughes tapped his experience working construction for his general contractor grandfather and launched into home building.
The homes are unique – made of steel for durability and wind resistance. Hughes insists he doesn’t want to compete with the mass home builders here, but instead is building one unit at a time, which he eventually may bundle as multiple homes in a rental investment package. “Honestly, I love building and – of course – the market is right for real estate, especially homes that are built with exceptional quality and care, as these are,” he said.
In the near future, he hopes to channel his leadership and commitment to helping others into a run for federal office in the hopes of bringing common sense back to government and prioritizing the needs of Americans first over big business and foreign affairs.
“We need to relearn how to become better neighbors to each other and that party lines and affiliations shouldn’t define who you are as much as your actions and compassion and willingness to step up and help those who need it. We should all strive to leave this world better then how we found it,” he said.