Bradley Plotkin doesn’t consider Title Boxing Club — the national fitness chain whose franchise he’s bringing to Metro Centre at Owings Mills later this year — a gym but a real club.
“We feel with a club, people belong to it,” he says. “We’ve got members that are a part of something. If you go to the gym, I’ll put my music on and work out without wanting to be bothered by anyone. In our club, it’s a real open format where people are going to meet. They’re going to do more than just come and box.”
The 3,000-square-foot Title franchise is slated to open at Metro Centre in late November, Plotkin says. Title plans to open 10 franchises in the Baltimore area during the next year, with Owings Mills being the first location.
As a chain, Title dates back to 2008 when Danny Campbell, a former professional boxer, referee and trainer, and two of his business associates partnered with a prominent boxing and mixed martial arts apparel company called Title Boxing LLC to open a set of boxing and kickboxing-inspired studios around Kansas City, Mo.
The concept was to have a place where people could learn the typical training styles used by most boxers without being in a traditional boxing gym filled with blood and spit buckets.
The clubs proved to be popular not only with boxers but folks looking for a great workout. Today, Title has about 190 locations across the nation.
Besides offering a greater emphasis on community and quality workouts, Title distinguishes itself from its competitors by focusing on actual boxing, says Plotkin.
“A lot of different gyms and mixed martial arts places offer some kind of variation on boxing in between rounds or during the rounds, involving pumps or tires or things that are more fitness-aligned,” he says. “We are very true to the sport, so basically what we offer simulates what a boxer goes through in their training.”
That means jump-ropes, lunge-ropes, pushups, cardio drills and calisthenics for starters, followed by 30 minutes of three-minute rounds designed to mirror a typical boxing bout, complete with a 100-pound “heavy bag” to kick and punch, and one-minute “active rest” periods. All of this is capped off by a 15-minute core workout with a medicine ball.
“We don’t mess around during rounds or spend time off the bag,” Plotkin says. “You’re focused on the heavy bag because that is where you’ll get the most time to work out.”
For Plotkin, a Franklin High School graduate, much of the appeal of bringing Title to Metro Centre is tied to being part of the revitalization of the area where he grew up. For the location opening up in Owings Mills, Plotkin plans to hire about 10 trainers, four or five sales employees and an assistant general manager.
Plotkin’s passion for pugilism dates back to his growing up in Reisterstown. Even then, Plotkin says, the main attraction of the sport for him was never just purely competitive.
“I boxed with a heavy bag and a speed bag in my house for many years,” says Plotkin, 39, who lives in Reisterstown with his wife, Natalie, and their two children. “It was really more about stress reduction for me. It was never about competing in the sport of boxing.”
After college, Plotkin spent 13 years running local retail stores and working in small business sales for T-Mobile, followed by 3½ years working in similar positions for Apple.
But even while working in the corporate world, Plotkin says he still came home after a stressful day of work and hit the bags for a half-hour.
So when visiting a Title location in Rockville, he recognized it was a good fit for his next business venture and decided to approach its executives about starting a new location.
“The moment I saw it, it just resonated, based on the fact that I love boxing,” Plotkin says.
Todd Haavind, Title’s director of franchise development, says Plotkin’s enthusiasm and outgoing demeanor matched what the company looks for in franchise partners.
“We want someone’s passion about the brand and what we do,” he says. “We can teach them our model and they can follow our plans because we do have a lot of strategies that we’ve used with all kinds of different owners across the country. But there’s certain attributes that you just can’t teach that we look for. Having an outgoing franchise owner is half the battle.”
But for Haavind and Title, a large part of the attraction of opening a franchise in this particular location is the area’s demographics.
“We’ve got clubs in urban areas, central business districts and suburbs, but it seems like the urban districts do really well,” Haavind says. “A high percentage [of Title’s clientele] want to come in, get their workout done, make it the best hour of their day and then get on with their day. In those business districts … where there’s lots of employment around there, with the stress of today’s life, it’s nice to be able to go in, get an efficient workout in an hour and then on with your day.”
Alex Holt is a Baltimore-based freelance writer.