For NFL Quarterback David Garrard, there's no such thing as "retirement." His short break from the NY Jets, starting in May and ending in October, proves that he's not good at sitting back and doing nothing. Along with his football training, he has been working with business advisors to find his next big off-the-field endeavor.
"But it had to be the right opportunity," says the 35-year-old Garrard, best known for his 2007-2010 stint as starting quarterback with the Jacksonville Jaguars, who drafted him as a fourth round pick in 2002 directly following his graduation from East Carolina University.
That ideal opportunity turned out to be Retro Fitness, a rapidly growing U.S. fitness chain known for providing its members with all the valuable amenities of a high-end gym, minus the hefty price tag. The NFL star and his wife, Mary, have plans to open three Retro Fitness gyms in the Jacksonville, Florida area within the next two years. The Garrards plan to be actively involved in the new gyms and are currently scouting out a site for the first location, which would open its doors within a year.
Company executives say that Garrard's decision to join the Retro Fitness family is a huge testament to the brand.
"As a quarterback, David is a born leader, on and off the field. He has the drive and dedication necessary to be a successful franchisee and will bring an undeniable energy to the Retro Fitness franchise system," says Eric Casaburi, founder and CEO of Retro Fitness. "We're both extremely driven, and also share strong family values. When we met David and Mary, we had an instant connection on that level. They were a natural fit."
Throughout his time as a professional football player, Garrard says he always kept his eye on the future. Over the past few years, Garrard worked regularly with a financial advisor to discuss investments and post-football career choices. His advisor introduced him to franchising and encouraged him to attend a conference hosted by the Professional Athletes in Franchising Initiative (PAFI). While he was exposed to numerous franchises at the conference, mostly restaurants, Garrard said he wanted to find something that would give him the opportunity to help athletes through sports and fitness, but provide a family-friendly lifestyle for his wife and three young kids.
"Mary and I were both college athletes and fitness continues to be a priority," says Garrard. "The idea of owning a fitness franchise was appealing to us, but we also have not had business ownership experience. The corporate team at Retro Fitness has our back. They know the ins and outs of this business. They provide all the training and ongoing support to set franchisees up for success ... that's what really sold us."