July 19, 2024

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I ignored ‘worst advice’ to build fitness chain Solidcore

2 min read

Anne Mahlum built her career by standing out from the crowd.

The 43-year-old entrepreneur — who sports spiky blonde hair, tattoos and six-pack abdominal muscles — launched her boutique fitness chain Solidcore in 2013, and grew it across the U.S. before selling it to a private equity firm in April.

Between the acquisition and two previous investment deals, Mahlum cashed out her Solidcore equity for a total of $88.4 million — and she credits that success to her unwillingness to ever fit in.

“I try to find the uniqueness in things, and then I amplify them … it really has been a huge part of my success,” Mahlum tells CNBC Make It. “A lot of times, people try to hide in the herd, and we try to fit in, and I think that’s the worst advice.”

Anne Mahlum started the boutique fitness chain Solidcore in 2013. She sold it for $88.4 million a decade later.

CNBC Make It

In Solidcore’s case, she took a taxing Pilates workout — which was masked by “cute” and dainty marketing, she says — and turned it into a national brand that focuses on physical strength. Class participants reach second-stage muscle failure while being pushed and cheered on by energetic coaches in blue-lit rooms.

Her mindset was fostered, in sometimes complicated ways, by her childhood home life, she says. At age 16, her parents divorced after her father gambled away their family savings. To cope, Mahlum started running and became hyper-focused on the idea of controlling her own life.

“I didn’t want to be hurt … and I felt like if I can just make an impact, or have a life I’m in control of and empowered [by], that I would escape feeling hurt,” she says. “I think a lot of my drive actually came from fear.”

Building empathy, maintaining discipline

Mahlum’s hard-charging approach may have helped her build a fitness empire, which now has more than 100 locations across the U.S. It’s also brought on legal and professional battles.

Solidcore’s first location, in Washington D.C.’s Adams Morgan neighborhood,…

2023-11-25 10:00:00

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