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Since his family purchased World Gym International in 2009, Guy Cammilleri has slowly built the company back into an international brand and distanced itself from previous owner Planet Fitness.
The Cammilleri family (from left, Guy, Joyce, Marcus and Leo) have owned and operated World Gym International since 2009. Photo courtesy of Guy Cammilleri.
When Guy Cammilleri presented at the Moscow International Open Festival of Fitness last October, it was the first time he had stepped foot in Russia. Sure, he had done his share of traveling as the leader of World Gym International, Los Angeles. But most of those trips kept him mainly in North America.
And with this first trip to Russia came another first. He spoke to about 200 people with the aid of an interpreter who traveled with him to Russia.
"That was interesting for me in the sense that I've had opportunities throughout my career, both in this industry and in the industry I was in prior, to speak in front of people," Cammilleri says. "But it's always been in front of an American or Canadian audience where translation wasn't necessary. So it was a new experience for me to try to give a speech and having to stop every couple of sentences."
Cammilleri and his family had enjoyed success in the hair salon industry with JOICO International, which was built in the 1970s and sold in 2001. When the family took over World Gym in 2009, a then-36-year-old Cammilleri made the rounds among World Gym franchisees. His main goal was to convince them to stick with the brand after the company was in a state of flux following its failed marriage to Planet Fitness, Newington, NH. Cammilleri didn't have an interpreter back then, so he had to learn the fitness club language on the fly.
In 2006, World Gym was sold to Planet Fitness, the brand known for its judgment-free zone and "no lunkheads" alarm, for around $10 million. The Planet Fitness-World Gym merger dissipated quickly. Several World Gym franchisees did not want to convert their gyms to Planet Fitness. According to Cammilleri, more than 100 World Gym franchisees left the system.
"The culture of Planet Fitness and the attitude toward the World Gyms was just so opposite and so abrasive that most of the gyms just de-branded," Cammilleri says. "I hate to be flippant about it, but I don't think I could lose 100 gyms if I made that my goal. That's hard to do."
In the summer of 2008, Cammilleri received a call from Planet Fitness, which was trying to gauge his interest in purchasing World Gym again. The Cammilleris had first tried to buy World Gym in 2005. The family shared a mutual contact with then-World Gym President and CEO Mike Uretz, who has remained as an advisor to World Gym.