About Joseph Andreula

Test. From a factory storage room near the projects of Hoboken, New Jersey to an enterprise that spans twenty locations, Joseph Andreula, the CEO of CKO Kickboxing has followed his passion to grow an academy that reaches nearly 10,000 students.  He shares some history and insights with Zebra, about the way he built his massively successful kickboxing-for-fitness program.

To say he started from humble beginnings is an understatement.  Andreula was working at a Venetian blinds factory at the time he launched his first kickboxing class.  He was also a pizza delivery driver, a bar back, taught Karate classes, and rarely turned down a paying side job.  In high school, he had worked as a personal trainer, boxed and had practiced Karate since age ten. He loved the training, saw the way it positively impacted his own life, and recognized an opportunity.  He convinced the owner of the factory he was working at, to let him convert a 2000 sq. ft. basement storage room into a practice area.  He persuaded the owner to give him free rent for the first two and  a half months, but the pressure was on to enroll enough students to cover his future rent obligation. "It was hardly the ideal location," noted Andreula.  "It was a scary place to visit, especially at night.  I would get prospective students interested in the program, they would drive to the neighborhood, and then some would turn around and leave," he remembers.  The 'gas station bathroom' didn't help either," he laughed.

But persistent he was.  He peppered neighborhood businesses with flyers about his program.  "I didn't have a copier at the time, much less a marketing budget."  So he asked his friends to make copies for him and he walked the neighborhood passing them out and telling business owners and anyone who would listen, about his kickboxing class.  "You couldn't go into a store in the area without seeing one of my flyers," he noted.

As challenging as it was to operate from a location that was cold in the winter, sweltering in the summer, and really rough around every edge, Andreula managed to attract students.  "The size and look of your center or facility doesn't matter nearly as much as the passion and commitment you bring to teaching students.  When I teach, it's an expression of myself.  I created a new kickboxing fitness program that was very unique at the time, and I focused on teaching what I knew." It seemed to be a formula for success.  Word of mouth spread and slowly but surely, new students signed up.  "I think it's important for club coaches and instructors to remember that people will join your program because they want to learn something and they think you can help them feel better about themselves.  The building you happen to operate in is a secondary consideration." Andreula offered all students a free trial class and within three months of opening his club, had 180 students signed up.  "I distinctly remember the instructor at the Karate club I worked out and taught at.  He had fifty students and he told me I would never be able to make a full time job out of teaching kickboxing.  He was clearly wrong.  It became a 'full life' job as I worked from 5am till 11pm every day and often slept at the club."
In 2004, he started to expand and bring his program to other neighborhoods. "We were helping people achieve real results and they were spreading the word.  If I took my program to  rural areas and the suburbs where there were far fewer people, would the business work there?  I had to prove to myself that it could be done so I opened a new location in a small community," said Andreula.
“With each new location there were less and less mistakes.” Andreula said.  His blueprint worked in the smaller communities too.  So much so, that in 2008 he started a franchise program to help other entrepreneurs interested in running their own fitness businesses.  He now has ten franchisees.
His operation has grown to twenty locations that range in size from 2,000 to 22,000 sq. ft.  Each location enrolls 300-2000 students.

Advertising and direct mail have been key tools in the way he attracts new members.  But he's also had excellent results using coupon clipper ads.  "They are an affordable and effective marketing tool," he shared. He operates the enterprise from a corporate headquarters complete with marketing, billing, and accounting departments.  He conducts conference calls each week with managers and franchisees who conduct daily operations at each club.  "Our managers must be accountable and task oriented," Andreula commented.  "Consistent communication lets us cover new topics and prevent problems from happening."

These day, his clubs are a far cry from the factory storage room he started in.  "We used to use foam mats and we'd have a lot of problems.  They would bubble up and we had to keep cutting them to make them last.  I never thought to use tatami style mats because I thought they were only for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ).  But after I had a chance to workout on them, we decided to make a switch."  Zebra mats are used in all CKO locations now.  According to Andreula, "There is no comparison to the quality and durability of Zebra products."

While the CKO Kickboxing operation is clearly a success, Andreula has goals for expansion.  "I'd like to have a program in all five New York City boroughs by the end of the year;  we're in two right now.  I also plan to expand our franchise program worldwide.  It takes a committed person to run a program like ours because you must continually provide high quality service, but it can be very rewarding too."
Besides going to beach when he has time off, Andreula's favorite thing is still working with a group of students and teaching.  "I love the environment we've been able to create.  Students work at their own pace and we don't care where or how high they kick.  They train like kickboxers, without the sparring, and it's a total body workout. We push each person, support him/her, and always maintain an upbeat atmosphere.  We never work students until they throw up or injure themselves."
Joseph Andreula and his CKO Kickboxing enterprise offer innovative, instructional fitness programs.  They run classes seven days a week and have blended authentic kickboxing training with intense calorie burning exercises and challenging resistance training.  Look them up on the Internet at:  http://www.ckokickboxing.com.  If you're interested in joining one of the most successful franchise businesses in the fitness industry, give him a call at:  (201) 963-7774 or e-mail: joseph@clubkogyms.com.

Author: Todd A. Brehe, tbrehe@gmail.com, (719) 321-344