Massage Envy founder to open new venture in Houston

BY Mark Yost | May 28, 2014

John Leonesio, the founder of Massage Envy Limited, the Joint and other successful health franchises, is coming to Houston, one of the hottest franchise markets in the country, with a new business.

RedLine Athletics is an elite sports training academy focused on younger athletes. The first Houston location will open in mid-June in the Baseball USA facility in northwest Houston. Leonesio said he expects that Houston will eventually have about 20 franchises.

The Houston location is actually RedLine's third franchise expansion. The original location was opened several years ago in San Juan Capistrano, California, by two former New York Mets; player Lyndsey Simmons and strength and conditioning coach Erik Korop. Leonesio's two kids, who are elite figure skaters, trained there.

"Is this franchiseable?" the owners eventually asked Leonesio.

"We determined that it was," Leonesio told Houston Business Journal in a phone interview from Colorado Springs.

They took the next two years planning the business and the first franchise location opened last year in Colorado Springs, where many of the U.S. Olympic athletes train. The second franchise opened in March in Scottsdale.

RedLine locations can range in size from 5,000 to 8,000 square feet. The franchise fee is $39,000 and total opening costs range from $100,000 to $150,000, Leonesio said. Each employs between 5 and 10 trainers in a variety of sports from basketball and baseball to lacrosse and soccer.

What makes RedLine different?

"They were providing a service in a niche that hadn't been filled," Leonesio told HBJ. "They were training all sports instead of focusing on just one and 40 percent of their clients were girls."

Leonesio said that RedLine initially focuses on core conditioning, something that he saw work with his own kids.

"If you get them in better shape, they'll be a better athlete," Leonesio said.

And Simmons, Korop and their staff take the time to learn what it is that each athlete does.

"They had never trained a figure skater before," Leonesio said of his own kids' experience. "But when they saw what they do, they tailored a program around that. Immediately, my son became a better skater, a better athlete."

All of RedLine's trainers have experience at the collegiate, semi-pro or professional level. As for Simmons and Korop's one-on-one training technique, new employees will "all come to Colorado Springs to learn the philosophy and culture," Leonesio said.

With just three locations open nationwide, Leonesio said the business is focused on selling regions that will then be divided up among interested franchisees.

In addition to Phoenix and Houston, Leonesio said he just sold the regional rights to the Miami-Fort Lauderdale area.

"We'll probably have close to 90 units that will be built out over the next few years," he said.