It wasn’t the best timing for Matt Joyce when his first F45 Training location originally was planned to open. As his team prepared to hit the ground running, gyms went into lockdown, along with everyone else.
It wasn’t the first time in his career he had to shift gears.
Matt Joyce has made a 12-year career as a professional baseball player for teams such as the Detroit Tigers, the Tampa Bay Rays, Atlanta Braves and, most recently, an outfielder with the Miami Marlins.
Currently a free agent, he took the next leap with an entrepreneurial venture in 2018, purchasing the franchise rights to F45 Training in the Tampa Bay area, alongside his wife, Brittany, and their business partner, Blair Johnson.
Their first facility opened in May 2020 in New Tampa. The newest location recently opened in Sparkman Wharf.
“It’s an awesome location. The buildout is awesome. It’s going to do really well,” he says.
He was introduced to F45 through Johnson, who told Joyce he should check it out. After the first class, Joyce was hooked.
“I told my wife, this is exactly up my alley,” Joyce says.
He was also drawn to the recurring revenue model the sort of business possessed.
F45 stands for “functional 45 minutes.” It’s the concept of a low-fitness workout, or HIIT, which stands for “High-Intensity Interval Workout.” Membership is $129 a month.
Joyce admits the timing wasn’t ideal.
“Obviously, 2020 was the worst time to open a group fitness-training business,” he says.
Originally, Joyce’s first location was prepared to open in March 2020, but the opening had to be pushed back due to COVID-related closures and precautions. So the company went virtual in the interim.
When he’s not running the field or his fitness studios, Joyce is a real estate investor with Tampa-based Sight Real Estate and Development.
“I had started that journey while in the minor league. It was on one of the 12-hour bus rides and I was like I better do something constructive with this time, so I picked up a book called Rich Dad, Poor Dad,” Joyce says. “In the minor league, you don’t know if you’re going to make it. Once you get to the big leagues, you don’t know how long that window is going to last to play there.”
Joyce decided he wanted to start a real estate portfolio to create some passive cash flow.
While home during the offseason, he spoke to Mike Mintzberg, who previously was with Vanguard Real Estate.
He wanted to start with single-family homes that needed renovations.
“It was right after the housing market crash in 2008,” Joyce says. “There were a lot of opportunities out there.”
Joyce says they became best friends over the years and now Mintzberg is working on 200 or so unit apartment buildings and doing more property development.
“I think it takes a little bit of curiosity and a dedication to learning,” Joyce says of diversifying business interests when you’re a pro-athlete. “You have to be curious and you have to really want to do that.”
Another venture he’s excited about has been nearly five years in the making—the development of the Empire League, an independent pro baseball league.
The league is currently raising capital for a small stadium in the Adirondacks area of New York. It is intended to be a multiuse facility that could be used all-year-round for revenue-generating entertainment, like concerts, Joyce says.
“It hits pretty close to home for me,” he says. “It helps players that don’t get drafted or signed, and maybe don’t get the same opportunities to get seen by scouts. It gives them another avenue of opportunity to continue to play.”
Joyce is also a partner involved in Game Day Vodka, which has been promoted on billboards in Tampa.
The new brand specializes in vodka seltzer and bourbon and designs its bottles to feature team sports.
With all of the balls Joyce has to juggle, the question arises: How does he have time for it all?
“I have to have a set dedicated amount of time for baseball. I have to prioritize that because that’s how you make your income,” Joyce says. “I have a dedicated person who manages the businesses. As long as someone is in that place, I can focus on baseball.”
Joyce also is a husband and father to a 3-year-old daughter. But he likes to stay busy.
At deadline for this edition of TBBW, Joyce was still a free agent waiting to hear what his future in baseball could be.
“I’m looking forward to 2021,” Joyce says. ♦