Former NFL Couple Finds Calling as Athletic Republic Franchise Owners

Barry and Shae Sims were named 2023 franchisees of the year by the International Franchise Association

Barry and Shae Sims, Utah-based franchise owners of Athletic Republic, juggle it all. The busy couple, who married in 1999, operate two sports performance training facilities in West Jordan and Park City while contributing to their community and raising their two young children. 

Bonded together by marriage, business and ambition, the Sims have devoted their lives to helping others, in large part through Athletic Republic, a science-based sports performance franchise with 80 global locations.

Earlier this year, the Sims were awarded the title of 2023 Franchisee of the Year by The International Franchise Association, honored for their leadership, performance and contributions in the franchise business space. 

Finding a Calling in Fitness Franchising

In many ways, Athletic Republic has been part of the Sims’ relationship from the start, although they didn’t open their first location until 2021. 

Both attended the University of Utah, where Barry played football and Shae worked in sports performance at the Orthopedic Specialty Hospital in Salt Lake. They met at a local sports restaurant before Barry was injured in a football game and became one of Shae’s patients in the hospital.

“At the time I worked there, we did not have a program such as Athletic Republic,” Shae said. Barry, experiencing difficulty overcoming his injury and filled with ambitions of the NFL, was encouraged by a colleague of Shae’s to try a program in California.

“That program is the same program that we have at Athletic Republic today,” she said. The program was eventually adopted at Shae’s clinical facility in Utah, and Barry continued to have a successful 12-year NFL career.

While Shae was involved in the program on a clinical level, she was also intrigued by the franchise world — but seeing the results firsthand was the real motivator.

“I saw what a difference it made in Barry’s career and his return to football,” she said. “That was my true draw to the franchise.”

credit: Athletic Republic/IFA

Improving Fitness Through Sports Training

With an undergraduate degree in exercise physiology, Shae is impressed with Athletic Republic’s rooted-in-science foundation. The franchise has served over two million athletes of all ages and abilities, including many adults improving their agility, stamina and performance. The sports performance training franchise currently has 80 franchised and licensed locations open across the globe with a presence in North America, Australia and Japan.

Unlike traditional gyms or fitness studios, Athletic Republic members work on their athletic goals through performance training that identifies strengths and areas in need of improvement. The training facilities boast special equipment, such as a Super Running Treadmill that accelerates faster and inclines more than a traditional treadmill, a Pro Multi-Hip to engage the hip through a full range of motion and a hockey treadmill with an ice-like surface so hockey players can perfect their speed and performance on the ice.

“That really is what makes it a great fitness program,” Shae said. “There’s no other fitness brand that incorporates the science like we do. We are like what you would get in either a clinical, college or professional setting with the science and technology that we have. That’s what differentiates us from just a local gym or fitness program.”

She added that the program’s trainers are also highly qualified, with degrees in exercise physiology or exercise science. 

“You’re getting the cream of the crop of trainers, but also the science of what’s making professional athletes — this is what they’re using (but) in a local and walk-in general public setting,” she explained.

credit: Athletic Republic

In addition to Athletic Republic’s rich training offerings, Shae reports an increased interest in female athletics and education surrounding strength and injury prevention. 

It’s an area that Shae is particularly passionate about, seeing the benefit of educating young athletes so they continue to hit their goals while ensuring a positive outcome even years down the line.

“They get an ACL at 16 years old – that’s life-changing,” Shae points out as an example. “Your knees are never the same. Can you come back from it? Absolutely. But when you’re 30, 40, 50, 60, you’re going to remember, and you’re going to feel that you had that surgery, particularly if you didn’t fully recover. Our goal is to make sure that we don’t set them back at 16, and they can avoid that and hopefully continue on to collegiate or professional athletics.”

Community Is Key to Franchising Success

Having a connection and pulse on the community has also allowed Barry and Shae to discover untapped areas of need, such as weight training.

“That’s really brought us a lot of success,” Shae said. “Just knowing our community, listening to what they need, finding where the gaps are in sports performance and fitness, and really keying in and doing something about it. Thankfully, we’re in a very active community, particularly here in Park City. We took the initiative when we first started and we felt (weight training) was a huge gap that we needed to address in our client population. So we implemented a robust weight training system and brought in a Master’s-level female strength and conditioning coach.”

credit: Athletic Republic

The couple is also devoted to their Utah community in other ways, with their franchise launching a scholarship program for students after being inspired by their work with The Ron McBride Foundation.

“There are many that want to work hard and that want the opportunity to train at a high level and have big athletic aspirations but unfortunately are just under circumstances that are not able to,” Shae said of the new scholarship program that will allow kids to train in the summer months to prepare for their fall sports. “We just thought it was such a great way to give back to the community and give opportunities for athletes who don’t have the chance to come and have our services.”

The pair haven’t ruled out the possibility of opening additional Athletic Republic locations in the future, but they are currently concentrating on their two facilities.

“I love the program and what it offers our athletes, especially our young athletes that are trying to break into collegiate or professional sports,” Shae said. “I think it’s a little early, but I certainly believe in what it represents and hope that there might be an opportunity to do some more.”

The post Former NFL Couple Finds Calling as Athletic Republic Franchise Owners appeared first on Athletech News.


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