By DAVID FOLSE II
Tammany West news
MANDEVILLE — Sandy and Ronald Franco got in on the ground floor of The City of Mandeville back in 1988.
Now the owners of Franco’s Athletic Club, along with the city, continue to grow each and every year.
Boasting over 15,000 members, Franco’s Athletic Club is one of the premiere gym and athletic facilities on the Northshore.
“Ron and I actually met at a health club in Baton Rouge called Foxy’s,” Sandy Franco said. “I was working there since I was 15 years old. He was a member of the club and he had become friends with the owner. They wanted to open up their own venue.”
Meeting at Foxy’s, Ron and Cindy would later become engaged and then Sandy got some business advice from her father.
“He kept telling me there is this place called Mandeville,” she said. “He couldn’t stop talking about how much of an up and coming city it was. He took both Ron and I there. He knew we both wanted to start a club and he believed he found the right fit. It was the same dream Ron and I had and we did it.”
In the infancy of Franco’s, the new owners really had to do everything.
“Not making it was something we were never going to think about,” Ron Franco said. “We were so young and we didn’t understand why banks wouldn’t lend us money. Being young and naïve, we just couldn’t see why they couldn’t see why it would work.
“Of course we had no idea Franco’s would turn into what it has now in 2014,” Sandy Franco added. “The first month we sold 500 memberships and that was our goal for the year. We were thrilled about that and we just knew we were going to make it.”
Both Ron and Sandy said they couldn’t see themselves doing anything else with their lives.
“The thing people don’t realize is that there are so many businesses within the big business of the facility itself,” Ron Franco said. “We have a child care center, a restaurant and so many other things. What we just love is being in this business gives us the chance to help people. We are not a doctor taking care of people after they get sick. We get to help people to try and prevent them from ever becoming sick.
“We love the fact that every day we are improving people’s lives mentally, physically and spiritually,” he continued. “It is a truly rewarding business.”
In the middle of a promotion for perspective members that waives any membership fee until 2015, Franco’s offers a unique experience from the minute you come through the doors.
“What we hear from people is they like the feel the minute they walk in the door,” Sandy Franco said. “They feel good about being here. All of our staff really enjoy working here and you can feel that when you are here working out or taking a class. This is a good place to be and I think that energy permeates throughout the walls of this place. There is a contagious energy flowing and it just makes people feel good.
“People don’t realize this,” she continued. “But one of the hardest things is not getting to the gym, but getting out of the car and walking through the door once you get here. We try and break down those walls and barriers.”
Located at 100 Bon Temps Roule in Mandeville, Franco’s is open from 4:45 a.m. – 10 p.m. on Mon.-Thurs., 4:45 a.m. – 8 p.m. on Fri., 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. on Sat. and 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. on Sundays.
You can check them out on Facebook or online at myfrancos.com. You can also contact them at 985-792-0200.