When Sommer and Ryan Hahn brought The Exercise Coach franchise to Omaha in May 2020, they always knew they wanted to own more than one location. The Exercise Coach is the nation’s largest personal training brand, and the Hahns were hooked on the company’s unparalleled approach and desired to bring it to their community. With a 10-year plan to secure five Nebraska studios plus additional locations out of state, the couple achieved their goal in only three years, recently securing ownership of four studios in St. Louis, MO.
In 2022, the Hahns were awarded Franchisee of the Year, recognizing their three Omaha studios’ standout performance in leadership, client relationships, and franchise citizenship. When asked why they were successful, the answer was simple: they believe in the system, and they believe they’ve hired the best people who genuinely care about making a difference. Ryan Hahn said, “People are our purpose. It’s where we spend most of our time.”
With more than 200 studios nationwide and 40 in Japan, The Exercise Coach is one of the few franchises still independently owned and founder-led. “It was evident that the founder cared about the same things we did,” Sommer Hahn said. She added that Ryan meets quarterly with the founder and top owners to discuss ideas and future growth opportunities. “We knew they [corporate] would pay attention to what we wanted to bring to our community.” With care, communication, and conviction at the heart of their philosophy, the couple’s passion for transforming lives has enabled them to create community and carry the franchise’s personal touch into each of their studios.
Purchasing additional territories outside of Omaha has allowed the Hahns to protect The Exercise Coach culture they have diligently worked hard to create. “When you treat coaches as the most important people in your business, they will naturally do the same for their clients,” Sommer Hahn said. “Our mindset, heart, and care for people help us deliver a successful system. Not only are our clients’ bodies changing, but they are forming relationships with those training them and bringing their friends. We genuinely care about our staff, and our coaches want to change lives.”
Although their marketing backgrounds have contributed to their success, the Hahns stepped into The Exercise Coach franchise without prior business experience in fitness, but doing so opened their eyes to how many people struggle with chronic health issues. For many clients, The Exercise Coach is a new opportunity and is typically the only fitness system that has worked for them. “So many people sit on the sidelines and don’t work out or do things for their health,” Ryan Hahn said. “Eighty percent of people don’t have a fitness routine. We knew this was going to be something that will transform lives.”
In March 2023, all locations began partnering with insurance companies to offer a special program for those who are 65 and older. This age group is expected to grow rapidly over the next several decades so this will make The Exercise Coach more accessible to people who need it the most.
Beyond state-of-the-art technology, The Exercise Coach lives by its “strength changes everything” mantra and strives to transform how people age. Through regular strength training, people will maintain strength as they grow older while improving flexibility, balancing blood sugar levels, improving sleep and mobility, and more. “Older people may think it’s too much, but our equipment is customized to fit their range of motion,” Sommer Hahn said. “It’s neat to see people who had ruled out fitness now try it because they now have access to proper training from our coaches and a chance at getting strong despite their age.”
As one of the top ten fitness franchises in the nation, The Exercise Coach has delivered millions of workouts and strength training sessions, all backed by research. In just two to three months, a person can reverse one decade of muscle loss—in other words, a 30 to 40 percent strength gain. One study noted that muscle mass should be considered “the new vital sign,” emphasizing skeletal muscle and how it factors into healthy aging. “With so many personal training sessions recorded, the company can continue to learn what benefits people most and develop protocols that are safe and efficient to meet their needs,” Sommer Hahn said.
The Exercise Coach isn’t the Hahns first experience starting something new. In 2016, they followed their faith to help start GraceHill Church with six other families. Formerly a portable church, the GraceHill community gathered in leased or rented spaces before purchasing land in late 2022. In October 2023, the church broke ground at its new permanent home at 192nd and Dodge at Avenue One’s West Omaha community.
Growing a church community and building a franchise takes a passion for people and a culture like no other. Beyond scientific data and a genuine desire to help others, the couple weaves faith into everything they do, dubbing it the driving factor behind their success with the church and franchise. “We stay obedient to do what we were called to do, which is to focus on people,” Ryan Hahn said. “Whatever is in store for the future, it’s beyond business success. It’s something that will be purposeful and fulfilling for generations to come.”
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