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Ready for prime time

Chain hopes to replicate sweet smell of success


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There's a new way for the health-conscious to knock out the fat - without having to watch an infomercial.

Prime Time Boxing is one of a handful of new health trends gaining momentum in the fitness industry. Based on the "sweet science" of boxing, the concept is geared towards those interested in a more skill-based workout.

Retired professional boxer Angelo Nunez and his wife, Cary Williams-Nunez, founded the Sacramento-based franchise in 1998. Williams-Nunez said the idea of Prime Time grew out of Angelo's frustration with having to travel to one gym to box and then to another for his cardio workout.

"There weren't treadmills or there weren't weights there; it was just boxing," says Williams-Nunez. "A light bulb went off and I said, 'Why don't we open something where people can come in and learn real boxing and go through the conditioning principles?'"

 

Prime Time Boxing isn't just a boxing franchise, it's a fitness franchise with boxing "boot camps."

To provide the basis for their business model - as well as get her back in shape - Williams-Nunez had Angelo train her to become an amateur boxer. She said it was important to learn the sport as a competitor to better train the gym's instructors and, by extension, its club members.

Prime Time doesn't offer boxing classes, it offers boxing "boot camps," Williams-Nunez said. From how to throw a proper jab to hitting the heavy bag, she said Prime Time provides members with an intense, circuit-training-based workout that gets them in shape quickly.

"Boxing is one of those activities that you're going to be able to get in shape much faster and more effectively than doing just one type of exercise," Williams-Nunez said.

Students have a "weigh-in" at the start and the conclusion of each four-week-long program. Williams-Nunez said it is important for members to monitor and be accountable for their progress, as that progress fuels their motivation.

 

At a glance

Initial Investment: $119,000-$139,000 (Franchise Fee is included in this figure)

Franchise Fee: $27,000

Royalty: 6 percent

Ad Fee: N/A

Units: 3 (1 franchise)

Memberships range from $175 to $275, and clients have the option of signing up for single camps, or for a six- or 12-month contract at a discounted rate. She said Prime Time has many longtime clients who show up at least three days a week and laud the variety in the training. Each camp in Prime Time's schedule is limited to 14 people, a characteristic that keeps the training personalized and builds camaraderie among the trainees.

She said USA Boxing certifies her and Angelo as Level-4 Olympic boxing instructors. As such, they are commissioned by the organization to train and test their instructors for that certification, as well. Manufacturer Everlast supplies all of Prime Time's equipment, and its facilities are built without carpeting - to help with cleanliness and avoid that "gym smell," said Williams-Nunez.

Williams-Nunez said she thinks fitness boxing is becoming popular due to the mental and physical endurance one needs to succeed in the sport, and cited a 2003 ESPN study that named it as the toughest sport in the world. Not only do fitness boxers get in shape and learn self-defense, she said, but they also improve their cognitive skills, which are transferable to other sports and rehabilitation programs.

Prime Time is the first of its kind, according to Williams-Nunez, but also is the "new kid on the block," and just started franchising in 2007. Its closest competitor, LA Boxing, beat Prime Time to the proverbial punch by opening its first franchised unit in 2005.

Prime Time has three units open in California, and offers its business-model to potential franchisees as either a standalone unit, or as an addition to an existing club.

"We're just excited to be at this stage from 10 years ago - boxing has all the benefits, and then some," said Williams-Nunez. "For us, that's the direction we are looking to go: to get people thinking about boxing in lot of different ways, rather than they saw Mike Tyson bite someone's ear off - let's move past that."

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