Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Secret Millionaire Stars Dave Mortensen and Chuck Runyon

Two new stars of this season’s Secret Millionaire television show have just been revealed. ABC will feature Dave Mortensen and Chuck Runyon on the episode airing Sunday, June 10. These two men are the founders of Anytime Fitness and spend several days in Oklahoma City working with local volunteers. While working under false identities, they determine which individuals deserve a portion of their fortunes.

Mortensen and Runyon are co-founders of what has become the largest co-ed fitness center on the planet. Anytime Fitness was founded in 2002 and is currently the fastest-growing franchised fitness club in the world. There are currently 2,000 Anytime Fitness clubs worldwide with almost 1.5 million members. Clubs are open 24 hours a day and 365 days a year, providing members an affordable and convenient way to exercise in well-equipped facilities staffed by friendly and knowledgeable individuals.

Mortensen grew up near the Hastings, Minnesota, headquarters of his now-famous fitness club chain. In high school, he received a wrestling scholarship to attend college in North Dakota. Mortensen says he struggled as a young adult, something that surprises many who see what he has accomplished. Runyon’s early years were marked by the death of his brother, an event that had a profound impact on his life.

Mortensen’s first fitness job was working at the front desk of a fitness club in a Midwestern chain operation. There, he met Runyon, who had already worked in various positions within the industry, and the rest is history. The two spent several years as fitness club consultants, traveling throughout the country and working with different types and sizes of clubs. They purchased the Southview Athletic Club, the place where Mortensen had his first fitness job, in 1995.

By 1999, Mortensen and Runyon began focusing on the information technology aspect of the business. They helped create billing, usage tracking, and security systems for use at their clubs. Today, the pair has more than two decades of health club ownership, consulting, and management under their belt. Anytime Fitness is their crowning achievement because it revolutionized the industry. It marks a welcome alternative to the expensive, oversized gyms found in many areas. The environment is much less intimidating, the clubs have a neighborhood feeling, and the business offers unique member benefits like reciprocity between franchise locations.

Mortensen says his desire to give back to others led him to participate in season three of Secret Millionaire. Runyon was motivated by the chance for self-exploration and the opportunity to experience a difficult environment with the ability to positively affect the lives of others. He said his participation “opened his eyes” much more than even he expected, in a positive way.

Anytime Fitness ranked number 18 on the Entrepreneur magazine Top 500 Franchises of 2011 and it continues to grow in a rapid, but controlled, manner. Franchisees are passionate about what they do, receive an unrivaled level of support, and want to positively influence their communities. This is very similar to the perspective that Mortensen and Runyon have regarding charitable giving.

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