24-Year Army Veteran Awarded Grant For Anytime Fitness Gym

2016 Operation HeartFirst

Figuring out what to do next is a struggle for many retirees. It can be especially challenging for those who have spent decades in the armed services. Once moving and deployments are finished, there’s often a desire to stay connected to the military, and their local communities, while still supporting their family.

For some, the answer is an Anytime Fitness gym.

“Currently, about 10% of our franchisees are military veterans,” said co-founder Chuck Runyon. “We’d like to see that number grow even higher. Veterans are some of our best and most successful club operators.”

But it’s a sizable financial commitment to get started. That’s why Anytime Fitness has once again partnered with Tee It Up for the Troops, a national non-profit organization, in an effort to help military veterans open their own gyms and provide additional employment opportunities for fellow veterans. Dubbed “Operation HeartFirst,” Tee It Up For the Troops offers a $125,000 grant and a $125,000 loan to a select number of honorably discharged veterans for the purpose of assisting with initial start-up capital to be used for the development of an Anytime Fitness franchise.

thornsSGT MAJ Anthony “Shay” Thorn met all the key criteria for qualified candidates, including possessing “a passion for fitness and community engagement.” That’s why he was the perfect choice to be the 2nd recipient of the Tee It Up for the Troops and Anytime Fitness Operation Heartfirst™ initiative. Shay and his wife Julie will no doubt make their community proud (and healthier!) just like the first winners, the Ambrozewskis. Their gym will open in the Columbus, GA area, near Fort Benning.

The Thorns were introduced at the 2016 Anytime Fitness conference in Lake Placid in August of 2016. Here is their story.

Watch Shay’s Story

Tee It Up for the Troops team

Tee It Up for the TroopsTee It Up for the Troops, Inc, is a national 501(c)3 non-profit organization that serves U.S. military veterans and their families. Based in Minnesota, Tee it Up for the Troops inspires communities across the country to organize golf events to raise funds for partnering veterans service organizations who deliver critically needed services to military families. These locally-supported events greatly assist returning service members to successfully reintegrate into their communities. 

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Ranked #1 on Entrepreneur magazine’s prestigious "Top Global Franchise" list and #2 in the “Franchise 500” list, Anytime Fitness is the fastest-growing fitness club franchise in the world, with more than 2.5 million members and 3,000 clubs worldwide. Open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, Anytime Fitness prides itself on providing our members with surprisingly personable service in convenient and well-maintained facilities which feature top-quality exercise equipment. Clubs are now open in all 50 states, Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, England, Scotland, Ireland, Spain, Grand Cayman, Poland, Belgium, the Netherlands, Qatar, Chile, India, Singapore, Malaysia, Japan, Hong Kong, Philippines, Taiwan, and China. Join one club and use them all. Franchised clubs are individually owned and operated. Members also enjoy free access to AnytimeHealth.com, the most comprehensive wellness website available.