Gwen Sheir was a working mom with a young son when some women on her street invited her to check out a new gym that had opened in their Charlotte, N.C. neighborhood.
"I could come home, grab him, and have 45 minutes to myself," she said of the workouts, which included free child care. Eventually, Sheir was so inspired by the gym she decided to open a franchise herself. Burn Boot Camp's first Houston-area location opened in November at Gateway Memorial City.
Burn's workouts are 45 minutes of high-intensity intervals, including everything from kettlebells to suspension training. What sets Burn apart is that most of its classes are for women only—though there are a few co-ed classes each week. That allows women to work out in a less-intimidating environment with a focus on camaraderie.
"I saw something so unique in the community," Sheir said of her original Burn classes in Charlotte. "It was just a different environment. People knew your name."
After getting hooked on the workouts, Sheir and her husband decided they wanted to invest more in the community. They started looking for markets where the franchise might work, and Houston immediately came to mind. Though they still live in Charlotte, Sheir has been working in Houston non-stop to launch the first location. She and her husband have plans to open three more Burn Boots Camps throughout the city in the next year.
Sheir said she chose Burn's first location with the needs and safety of her students in mind. Gateway has lots of parking and 24-hour security—a plus for anyone attending a 5 a.m. class when it's still dark outside.
In addition, the gym contains no mirrors and no weightlifting machines.
"Our motto is 'Your body is your machine,'" Sheir said.
Right now Burn offers about 10 classes a week, including early morning, midday, and after-work. Sheir hopes to add yoga classes soon to make Burn the only gym membership her clients need. The gym also has showers and, as previously mentioned, free child care for certain classes.
"We've basically removed all the excuses," Sheir said.