January 24, 2013
Fitness Franchisee Credits Carolina for Success: Arnold School 'Exercises' Its Impact
In October 2010 at the age of 24, Drew Mobley, ’07, ’10, became an Anytime Fitness franchisee on Devine Street in Columbia.
He did so by first managing the business for a year—rushing off to labs, then returning to Anytime Fitness—while working on his master’s in exercise science at the Arnold School of Public Health. Mobley said he became “too valuable an employee not to work” for the owner at the time, a business broker.
Two months after graduating with his master’s, Mobley bought the business that is his personal passion: working with clients to achieve their fitness goals and in the process, owning a piece of the fastest-growing fitness chain in the United States with more than 2,000 locations. Seven alone are located in the greater Columbia area, and Mobley is considering a second franchise. In less than two years, his customer base has grown more than 200 to exceed 700 clients.
Mobley’s franchise opened in 2007, just five years after the company debuted. “The broker was making money and it was profitable, but he knew the franchise would be in better hands with someone devoting their full time to it as I am,” he said.
Carolina Beckons: Scholarship Opens Door
Originally from Lancaster, S.C., Mobley offers that much of his success came by receiving an in-state LIFE scholarship and with it, opportunity for a “second to none” education at the Arnold School
. He was taught by the likes of Larry Durstine
, a Distinguished Professor and chair of the Department of Exercise Science.
“There’s definitely a credibility that comes from having a background in fitness and health from USC,” Mobley said. “I know the impact that my degree has given me every day, just by sitting down with people, discussing their fitness goals and needs, and seeing how I can help them. There’s so much I wouldn’t know without having a bachelor’s and a master’s degree from a highly accredited public health program.”
Mobley is a certified trainer as is his other primary fitness trainer, T.J. Lyerly, ’98
, who assists clients preferring evening workouts. Mobley handles most of the day clients. Lyerly, whom customers describe as “36 going on 26” and a full-time, self-employed fitness trainer from Columbia, shares yet another accomplishment with Mobley: Both benefited from a scholarship that made a Carolina education possible.
In Lyerly’s case it was the highly coveted Carolina Scholar Award—Carolina’s most prestigious in-state scholarship that offers a tuition-paid education through the South Carolina Honors College
. He used his opportunity to earn a psychology degree and puts it to use each day. Whether it’s urging clients with extended arms to shake Body Blades just “a few seconds more” for overall toning and cardio—or having them perfect “the plank” and “the bridge” for a total “core” workout—Lyerly’s occupation is all about motivation that fuels results.
“The number one thing you hear from his clients about T.J. is how outgoing, personable, and relatable he is,” Mobley said. “He’s not intimidating as you might imagine some fitness trainers to be.”
“My degree in psychology at USC gave me tools to understand human behavior,” Lyerly said. “As a fitness trainer, it’s necessary to understand the idea of behavioral modification and reward systems in helping people successfully reach their goals. My degree at USC has definitely helped me change lives.”
The Future: Bright for a Motivated USC Grad
For Mobley, “changing lives for the better” may entail expanding his Anytime Fitness client base at some point in the future with a second franchise. He gauges future success on the fact that Entrepreneur magazine ranks Anytime Fitness No. 6 among its Top 500 Franchises for 2013. It’s hard to argue against a fitness center that’s literally open all day, every day, he said, while striving to give his center a relaxed, homey feel.
“I’ve tried a lot of gyms and feel the most comfortable here,” said client Phereby Rogers
, a local graphic artist from Columbia. “It’s a nice environment I think. If I’m not outside, I’m here.”
Mobley comes from a Lancaster family with Carolina connections. His father, Hugh Mobley
, owns Mobley Drugs and is a member of USC’s Board of Trustees. He has three sisters, of which one, older sister Amy McCraw
, works at Lexington Medical Center and was among Carolina’s first group of doctorate-level Physical Therapy graduates.
–Larry Di Giovanni, Development Communications