Several years ago, I remember meeting with Mitchell Brown — a fellow SMU alumnus — to hear about his new business concept.
He was planning to open a gym with a unique twist: people would exercise on top of moving surf boards, rather than hurl weights around.
Now, as we enter 2017, Mitchell's fledgling concept, City Surf, has become a mainstay in Dallas and beyond. With a rapidly-expanding footprint and a loyal legion of members and fans, it's a hair away from becoming a veritable phenomenon.
So, in the season of New Year's Resolutions and a renewed focus upon fitness, I thought we'd take the chance to catch-up with Mitchell, whilst also introducing some all-new fitness (and comfort) friendly products for 2017.
And, for those who are curious, Mitchell was kind enough to offer a free two week trial for Rye 51 customers and readers. Use the code SURFFREE at citysurffitness.com.
Matt Alexander: Where the idea for City Surf originate?
Mitchell Brown: City Surf came from a combined love of fitness, outdoors, and community. And, well, surfing.
Surfing is, truly, an experience. As with most outdoor sports, there's a level of uncertainty, nerves, and excitement. We wanted to create a fitness class/concept that harnessed that sensation.
At moments, you'll question your decision-making. You might even be nervous. But once you've survived your first 45 minute class, you realize how much fun you've had and how proud you are for sticking through it. Most people are immediately itching to come back.
And, really, that's our goal with City Surf. We want to recreate and instill a feeling, fostering an experience that's both fun and good for you.
Matt Alexander: Did you ever foresee yourself owning your own gym/fitness concept?
Mitchell Brown: I always envisioned a world where I worked for myself and created new concepts, brands, or experiences for myself and others to enjoy.
I never knew how soon that would begin, to be honest. (Let alone just a couple years out of school.)
I grew up in Salt Lake City and was raised by endurance athletes (marathon mother and ultra athlete father bike riding, running, horse back riding, and much more). So, from a young age, I was exposed to so much fun and adventure when it related to being active.
Health and fitness was always a part of my life, so I suppose it makes sense that I have been drawn to that industry.
I find it much easier to use your interests when creating a business you have to spend everyday building.
Matt Alexander: You've opened quite a few locations over the past few years. What's next for City Surf?
Mitchell Brown: We really want to raise awareness of our studios in the cities we are currently located.
We want to help educate the fitness community that fitness doesn't have to be curtailed by a specific experience. Rather, it can combine fun, community, and enjoyment, whilst still getting you in the best shape of your life.
Above all, we're an affordable alternative to most big box gyms and high-end boutique studios. Our membership is just $85 a month for unlimited classes which range from strength, balance, and cardio-based movements. We want to be accessible.
Studio growth is also on the agenda. We anticipate opening a few more locations in 2017, both in Texas and surrounding states.
Matt Alexander: Outside of City Surf, do you have any other entrepreneurial ideas on the horizon?
Mitchell Brown: We plan on adding more surfing retreats for our communities, licensing our studios to new owners, as well as increasing our City Surf trainer certification workshops in the coming months and years.
So, honestly, I don't have much time to build new ideas on a personal basis.
My business partner, Keith Plum, and I love the fitness space and we have plenty of ideas and see room for new concepts and technologies within the fitness market.
It's vague to say, but when the time's right, we'll be ready for our next endeavor and you'll be the first to hear about it!
Matt Alexander: Finally — and apologies in advance for such a trite question — for people starting to think about getting in shape for the new year, do you have any recommendations or tips?
Mitchell Brown: Fitness or health is just like any other skill or habit you might want to develop. It takes hard work and commitment.
But that doesn't mean it can't be enjoyable.
In life, there are no quick solutions to what you want to achieve. Take it one day at a time, start building healthy habits, and give yourself small achievable goals to build on. And, above all, have fun with it.
As a reminder, Mitchell was kind enough to offer a free two week trial for Rye 51 customers and readers. Use the code SURFFREE at citysurffitness.com.