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My Passion for Fitness Saved My Life (and Helped Me Build an Empire)

Devan Kline, co-founder and CEO of Burn Boot Camp

Growing up, I was faced with a difficult home life. I was raised in a low-end neighborhood in Michigan and my house was generally filled with violence, drug and alcohol abuse and frequent visits by the local police.

This upbringing presented me with two options: fall into the path of my parents and become a product of my environment, or hit the books and find a passion and dictate my own future.  

I went with the latter: My entrepreneurial journey stemmed from my passion for fitness and nutrition. At age 12, I learned I excelled in sports and I was fortunate enough to meet the love of my life, Morgan, who eventually would become my wife, business partner and rock. The combination of sports and Morgan helped me persevere and became my escape.

My involvement in athletics continued throughout high school and I was eventually given the opportunity to attend Central Michigan University on scholarship to play baseball. Throughout life, I’ve always liked to challenge myself, so rather than study fitness, I ventured into unknown territory and studied business.

Hard work paid off in college. I focused my time and efforts in school and on baseball and was drafted by the San Francisco Giants to follow my dream of playing in the MLB. I played for three seasons before being released and forced to join the more traditional workforce.

"What's next?"

While I never anticipated having a regular 9-to-5 job, I found myself in a sales position, which I immediately grew to dislike. After recognizing that working a desk job was not a promising career path for me, I got up from my desk and politely told my boss I had to quit. I found myself asking: what’s next?

The clear answer was to follow what I knew: fitness, nutrition, mindset, health mentoring and coaching. I reflected on my tenure with the San Francisco Giants. During that time I was living with host families and it became evident to me how oblivious many American families were to health and nutrition. This was an incredibly upsetting reality to me, so I opted to make it my purpose to help change this.

I renewed my personal training certification in Naples, Fla. and within three months created a women’s boot camp program called Lightning 900. While I was creating Lightning 900, Morgan was presented with an opportunity to follow her dream in North Carolina. Morgan moved first, while I stayed in Naples for 50 days learning the ins and outs to create, start and lead a business – HTML code to build a website, learning to build a business model, management techniques, etc.

Eventually found myself as the CEO and co-founder of Burn Boot Camp, a national fitness franchise that creates a fit community for moms and women. Morgan and I started the company to form an atmosphere where like-minded women can come together, build confidence and inspire one another through fitness. in 2012, I followed Morgan to Huntersville, NC and partnered with a gymnastics studio to utilize their parking lot to create the first Burn Boot Camp. 

The birth of Burn Boot Camp

Eager to launch my program, I was faced with great defeat, having no clients for the first two days. Ready to take on this challenge, I went out, promoted my business, fine-tuned our programs and generated 800 clients in just one short year—changing Morgan and my life.

Together we grew the company to five locations before we decided to franchise the brand in an effort to grow faster, provide a lucrative business opportunity for local entrepreneurs and reach more women globally. In February 2015, we began franchising the brand and have already grown to more than 50 locations operating across 26 states. We have 229 awarded locations and anticipate more than 1,000 locations by 2021.

Fitness saved my life and it brings me incredible happiness to know our camps will be helping women globally for years to come. 

About the author: Devan Kline is the co-founder and CEO of Burn Boot Camp, a boutique fitness concept that creates a fit community for moms and women to come together, build confidence and inspire one another through fitness. He and his wife Morgan have dedicated their lives to helping women globally get healthy, feel better and live better lives. His fitness experience includes NASM and NCCPT training certifications, Fitness Specific Nutrition certification, as well as playing in the MLB.  

Edited for length and clarity by Shannon Gausepohl. Have a great entrepreneurial story to tell? Contact with your pitch.

Image Credit: Burn Boot Camp