When Marty Burger decided earlier this year to move his business to Colorado Springs, he simply drove it from Florida.
That’s because for the past 25 years he has owned and operated Door to Door Fitness, a mobile gym that he drives to his clients.
Originally from a small town in Illinois, Burger moved with his family to Hollywood, Fla., in 1969. He discovered his love for working out after graduating from high school, and fitness became a passion throughout his time at Florida State University.
“It was just pure love,” said Burger, now 56.
After graduating from college, Burger spent seven years working for the Florida Division of Recreation and Parks before his passion led him to a job as manager of a Bally Total Fitness. His year working for the gym turned out to be a transformational one — personally and professionally.
“That’s around the time that personal training started becoming a big thing,” he said. “So I started running their personal training program.”
In 1991, after a year managing the local Bally and learning the industry, Burger had an idea for a mobile gym that he could use to bring full-service personal training to his clients.
“There was a maintenance guy at the Bally where I worked that could do anything and everything — he was Mr. Fixit,” he said. “So I went to him and said, ‘I have this idea; could you build it?’ And he said, ‘Sure, no problem.’”
Burger purchased a box truck and outfitted the cargo space with a generator and air conditioner, while his handy friend installed carpet, mirrors, electrical outlets and workout equipment. His first clients followed him from Bally, and demand soon swelled.
“It steadily grew and then plateaued, because you can only help so many people in a day,” he said. “It has tapered off a little in the past four or five years.”
At the peak of his career as a mobile gym operator, he said he was booking 12 one-hour sessions a day out of his 18 x 8-foot truck, was bringing home a six-figure income and employing two other trainers (one his wife) to operate their own trucks.
“We were slammed,” he said. “But business started to slump a little in the past few years, and I attribute that to the fact that there are so many more choices and so many more trainers.”
Burger went on to explain that his competition — 24-hour gyms and personal trainers who make house calls — began to grow substantially as time went on, but that he still believes his $70 hourly rate is comparable to those who offer less value.
“I think it’s worth it,” Burger said.
Burger doesn’t have the selection of machines seen at most gyms these days, but the part-time bodybuilder said he can work the same muscle groups with the free weights and the universal weight machine his truck offers. The majority of his clients are professionals between 55 and 75, and he said the reasons people prefer his services are varied.
“A lot of people have gone to a gym and had a bad experience,” Burger said. “But for the majority of my clients, it’s the convenience. I pull up to their driveway, they open their door, and I train them.”
Ilene Sasencko, 68, was one of his clients. A physician in the Miami area, Sasencko worked out in the mobile gym twice a week for more than 15 years.
“He came to our house, provided all the equipment, and we worked out,” she said, adding that her children and sometimes a neighbor would join. “It’s just the convenience of not having to leave your home — part of it was being busy, part of it was that he arrived, and you had to work out. There were no excuses, because he was there and ready.”
Burger drove his mobile gym into town in October after spending nearly 50 years of his life in the Sunshine State to try his luck at meeting a demand he sees in Colorado Springs.
“Everything was fine in Florida,” he said. “What made us move here was the mountains.”
Burger said he’s currently looking to establish clientele in Colorado Springs and thinks there is a demand here for the services he provides. He has also recently invested in a franchise of Happy and Healthy, which produces frozen fruit bars called Fruitful. He plans to run that with his wife, whom he met at the gym.
Burger said he is confident that Colorado Springs residents will recognize the value he brings to personal training.
“They [other personal trainers] can’t bring a whole gym like I do,” he said. “People are a lot more health-conscious out here. … There are a lot more elderly people who work out here, which is pretty cool. I’m hoping to maybe tap into that as well.”
[su_box title=”Door to Door Fitness” box_color=”#005ac3″]Location: Colorado Springs (mobile)
Contact: 428-5057, doortodoorfitness.org[/su_box]