Inside the MADabolic Craze: Co-Founder Kirk Dewaele on the Fitness Franchise’s Growth

Dewaele and Brandon Cullen created MADabolic in 2011, leveraging their backgrounds as former pro hockey players and CrossFit gym owners to create a new group fitness concept

With a strong work ethic, years of sports training, a team spirit and some grit, ex-pro hockey players Kirk Dewaele and Brandon Cullen developed MADabolic in 2011.

Despite having no initial plans to franchise, 13 years later, there are 33 locations and 80-plus in development as consumers nationwide have embraced MADabolic’s unique take on group fitness and strength training

Athletech News sat down with Dewaele to hear about his and Cullen’s journey in creating the explosive brand, what sets MADabolic apart from other group fitness concepts, and how the company approaches the business of franchising

Athletech News: Why did you and Brandon Cullen decide to create MADabolic?

Kirk Dewaele: Brandon and I met in Charlotte in 2006 while playing for the minor league hockey team here. During the off-season, from 06-08, we trained together. At the end of the 2008 season, we both retired from hockey and jumped into the CrossFit world shortly thereafter. A lot of our clients were unfamiliar with using barbells, and that technique can be challenging to teach. We started thinking about how we could come up with a different method that’s less intimidating and would appeal to more people.

We started running barbell-free workouts with work-to-rest ratios on Saturdays and there was a boost in attendance. A big boost. We knew we were on to something. After about six months, we pulled the trigger and leased a space outside of Charlotte and set out to create this new model.

ATN: How do your personal style, training beliefs and business tactics help shape MADabolic?

KD: During my years playing hockey I trained with a lot of really knowledgeable strength and conditioning coaches and learned so much. Brandon did too. We took that into the CrossFit world and learned even more. We used all of that knowledge and experience when designing MADabolic.

From a business perspective, I think I fall back to my structured background with hockey. There are sets of rules to be followed – or business practices in this case. We’ve also brought a team mentality and environment to MADabolic.

Kirk Dewaele (credit: MADabolic)

ATN: How is MADabolic different from other group fitness concepts? 

KD: In a lot of ways. I think the workout is more structured – less chaotic than high-intensity group fitness. There is a very specific system. I would say it’s organized but edgy. Trainers don’t wear microphones; they are hands-on and very focused on correct movement. The intensity varies daily.

credit: MADabolic

ATN: How does MADabolic approach the business of franchising?

KD: When we first opened our doors we didn’t have a goal to franchise. We wanted to provide a gym in Charlotte that was different from CrossFit.

Soon after we opened we started getting great traction. The space next to our building became available so we grabbed it and grew. We had a quick trajectory in terms of client base. People began asking if we would partner – if they could run a MADabolic gym in a different city. So we hired a consultant and started franchising in 2013.

We started slow. By 2018 we had ten locations and realized we could not handle the whole business by ourselves so we partnered with a private equity firm in 2019. Now we have 33 open locations and more than 80 in development.

ATN: What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned along the way?

KD: The importance of people. You have to partner with the right people when hiring or franchising because they make the business. If you have a great program, the right playbook and put the right people on your team that’s a recipe for success.

ATN: What’s surprised you most about the fitness industry?

KD: How tough it is to educate the consumer on what we are all about. Once we get them in the door and they see and feel the difference they understand it. But there are a lot of gyms and studios to choose from. People will often go to a workout and if they end up sweating and breathing heavily, they think they will get results. But they don’t take the time to educate themselves on the system, the process.

credit: MADabolic

ATN: What are you most proud of?

KD: I’m really proud to have grown to 33 locations. I take great pride in our knowledgeable trainers. We put out a product we all believe in and care about – and it works.

ATN: What does the future look like for MADabolic?

KD: We want to continue to grow and enter new markets with great franchisees. We want to do this with a steady growth trajectory – not overly fast. I think there is a sweet spot and we need to keep a laser focus on that so we can retain our high quality and be successful in each market.

The post Inside the MADabolic Craze: Co-Founder Kirk Dewaele on the Fitness Franchise’s Growth appeared first on Athletech News.


您的电子邮箱地址不会被公开。 必填项已用 * 标注