I was lucky enough to team up with my 24-Hour Film Royal co-organizers to run this year's Quick Freeze Film Competition for the Anchorage International Film Festival. Like the Royal, we visited most of the teams during the various stages of production and filmed a behind-the-scenes documentary to play during the screening event. Again, putting together another successful filmmaking competition and making the documentary was another wonderful reminder of how great this community is.
Here's the newest video I produced, filmed, and edited for Alaska USA Federal Credit Union featuring Body Renew. This is the fourth in a series profiling their various business clients. Other than the addition of having access to lavalier microphone for this one, the equipment and software used was largely the same as the previous video. Continuing the tradition of having one aspect that bothers me, the purple lighting in the room we conducted the interview made the subject look a little discolored - something I thought I solved during setup, but didn't notice until I started editing.
Your Alaska Link was kind enough to stop by the kickoff event to interview me about the Quick Freeze Film Competition. I tried to sound like I knew what I was talking about.
Ask Brian Horschel why he started Body Renew, and without skipping a beat, he’ll answer: “The people, hands down.” According to him, “a lot of people will go into a gym and it’s a real off-putting experience. It takes a lot of courage to go there in the first place, and then you get there and are met with opposition. We want to create a warm environment for clients to come in and be able to achieve those lifetime or short-term goals.”
This focus on the individual and the community is the cornerstone of their business, as well as what sets them apart from other gyms. “When you come in, the first thing you’re going to have somebody ask you is, ‘tell me about you. Why are you here?’ And they’re going to listen,” Brian explains. “Other gyms are owned by national chains, and they don’t seem to care about Alaskans as much as I feel everyone who works for Body Renew does.”
Before opening, Brian describes there being a void in the Alaska market. “We didn't have programs to help people achieve results. We had gyms with weights in them, but those have been around since the days of the Romans. The obesity rates are climbing throughout the nation, and we wanted to go out and do something that would change that in our little part of the world.”
Body Renew opened their first facility on July 7, 2007. “It was a little bit of a risk. My wife and I went all in. If we didn’t make it, we were starting over,” recalls Brian. “Our first location was in South Anchorage. It was a 3,000 square foot facility. We had change rooms, two bathrooms, a line of cardio and fitness equipment, some really good people, and the promise of doing better than what Alaskans had seen up to that date. I think we’ve lived up to that promise.”
The gym and their philosophy was a success. “Everybody bought in,” says Brian. “Between our customers and our employees, everybody was excited about what we were doing. They come in and they’re floored. They didn’t expect what they’re experiencing. That’s why we’ve grown so quickly over the last seven years.”
In order to grow his business, Brian partnered with Alaska USA to bring three new locations to Alaska, including facilities in Wasilla, Eagle River, and Midtown Anchorage. To do that, he secured financing for equipment and commercial real estate. “They’re unlike any financial institution I’ve dealt with. Alaska USA is truly a partner in our business, and that’s one of the reasons why I think we’re successful.”
Most recently, Brian worked with Alaska USA on their biggest milestone: a 25,124 square foot building down the street from their original facility. “Alaska USA jumped in and helped us from the initial planning stages. We bought the land, designed the building specific for our business. We completed the project a year behind schedule, but I feel the finished product is great. That’s what Alaska USA does. They’re in it to help their clients succeed,” he says.
Today, Body Renew is thriving with four gyms in Alaska, several in California, Idaho, Oregon, and Virginia, and more on the way. “2016 will be a big year,” explains Brian. “We’re working with Alaska USA on another location in Anchorage, there are some new classes that are going to be unbelievably exciting the way we’re running them, and incorporating technology in what we do. There are a lot of cool things happening and it’s unlike anything we’ve seen in the state.”
While a lot has changed since opening eight years ago, the focus on people remains the same. “I get almost choked up about the people here. Whether they’re members or employees, they’re taking this business to places all on their own, and they get me excited to come into work every day,” says Brian. “I hope that everybody realizes that we at Body Renew are striving to provide the best service for our community. We’re about changing lives, and I think we’ve done that.”