Operation Heartfirst Update – 1st gym to open soon!

Antime Fitness tubemanFounded in 2002, Anytime Fitness is a fast-growing franchise chain that recently opened its 3,000th gym worldwide. But how this particular franchise opened has a distinctly local flair.

As a way to thank military veterans for their service and to encourage additional employment options once they step out of uniform, the company partnered with Tee It Up for Troops to establish the Heartfirst Foundation. Their first joint initiative — Operation Heartfirst — provides a $125,00 grant plus a $125,000 low-interest loan as base funding to allow a selected military veteran the opportunity to open their own Anytime Fitness franchise. The program specifically targets markets with a high military concentration and, in turn, the goal is for the gym to provide employment for more veterans.

“We chose the general location of where the awardee will build their gym because we want these clubs to open in communities that serve a military base. “Based on these goals, we selected the greater Fayetteville area for the first gym to be built with Operation Heartfirst,” said Mark Daly, national media director with Anytime Fitness.

Tim Wegscheid, president of Tee It Up for Troops, said they sought candidates with distinguished records of military service who were eager to help others lead healthier lifestyles and those who had continued to serve and support the U.S. military and its veterans.

“We looked for candidates with a passion for fitness and community engagement,” Wegscheid said. “The Ambrozewskis fit that description exactly.”

Hannah and Tristan Ambrozewski served as intelligence analysts with the U.S. Army from 2005 to 2012. The couple met at basic training, married, and balanced multiple overseas deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan over the last decade.

Now, both honorably discharged, Tristan continues to perform similar duties for a Department of Defense contractor. After leaving active duty, Hannah said she missed doing physical training every day, so she purchased a small franchise called Stroller Strides, which is a child-friendly fitness program designed for moms and caregivers of little ones.

“I had always wanted to own a gym so that was a great place to start,” she said. “We always wanted to own our own business.”

When the couple learned about the Heartfirst Foundation and its grant program, they quickly applied and were thrilled to be selected. The grant and loan funding provides necessary start-up capital to open their gym.

“We’re incredibly excited to help veterans and non-veterans alike in our community learn how to lead healthier lifestyles,” said Hannah, who will have primary responsibility for the day-to-day operations and management of the gym. “We also love the idea of being able to provide jobs to other military veterans.”

Article by Laura, Douglass, Staff Writer, ThePilot.com

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