Family-focused fitness: Helena Health Club’s Brandon Booth shares how he got in the family business

Co-owner of the Helena Health Club Brandon Booth practically grew up in a gym.

His uncle, Terry Brasseale, ran a gym called Iron Works Fitness in Hueytown, Alabama for nearly 30 years, while Booth’s mother ran a woman’s only gym in Pleasant Grove called Lady Works. With so many positive influences in his life involved in the fitness industry, it’s no surprise that Booth would want to follow in their footsteps, but his uncle always had reservations.

“I always tried to get in the gym business with Terry, but he wouldn’t let me do it,” Booth said. He was kind of protecting me. He would always ask me, ‘Are you sure you know what you’re getting into?’ because it’s long hours. It is a very tough industry.”

When Booth was in high school, he discovered an aspect of fitness that he had never explored before. A conversation with his uncle about nutritionists sparked an interested for Booth.

“At that time, I was going through my own fitness and health journey in high school,” Booth said. “I understood the exercise piece, but I didn’t really understand the nutrition piece of what I was doing, so that led my interest in nutrition.”

Booth ultimately decided to study food and nutrition in college, graduating with his bachelors from the University of Alabama in 2006. During this time, he worked as a personal trainer at NorthRidge Fitness.

After earning his masters in sports/clinic nutrition from Florida State University in 2008, his former colleagues at NorthRidge Fitness contacted him about starting a nutrition program at their gym.

This job brought him back to Alabama where he eventually established his own private nutrition practice called Benchmark Nutrition in 2009. Since then, he has consulted with multiple organizations like UAB Athletics and the Alabama football team.

Meanwhile, his uncle had sold his fitness club in Hueytown and was looking to start a new gym elsewhere. Brasseale started the process of establishing the Helena Health Club in 2014. When Booth heard the news, he reached out to his uncle.

“I called him again just saying ‘hey, even if you won’t let me work with you at the health club, maybe I can set up my nutrition practice at the health club, and I’ll just buy in that way,’ and he finally agreed to it,” Booth said.

Booth, his mother and his uncle all worked together to open the Helena Health Club in 2014.

“I am very fortunate that—and as you get older, you recognize that—I have an amazing family,” Booth said. “We all get along. We all have fun together and I know that’s very rare.”

Because of their strong connection to family, Booth shared that Brasseale’s number one goal in establishing Helena Health Club was that he wanted a place that felt like home.

“Helena just felt like home—that’s kind of what led us to opening up here,” Booth said. “It just reminded us of community, family and fun. That’s kind of what we wanted this place to be.”

Since its grand opening ribbon cutting ceremony on June 19, 2014, the Helena Health Club has undergone many changes. While the core mission has stayed the same, the gym has made several changes to the facility itself from new equipment, to new paint, to pushing the front of the building out to overtake the sidewalk.

“Over time, we started seeing things that we either needed or that were being requested that we couldn’t make fit in the space that we have,” Booth said. “We’re constantly trying to add value to the gym.”

Booth shared that it isn’t uncommon to him wandering the gym with a tape measure, considering a possible layout change. In addition to layout changes to maximize the available space, the Helena Health Club also replaced all its cardio equipment in 2021 and redid the locker rooms in 2022.

“Whatever it may be, we’re always constantly trying to enhance either our equipment or services, whatever it may be,” Booth said.

This constant innovation has culminated in a complete remodel of the gym this year, just in time to celebrate the tenth anniversary of Helena Health Club. With all new equipment and a new layout, Booth is excited about the results.

“It’s essentially like we are starting over,” Booth said. “With those changes, I think it offers people more versatility to do different things. I think it allowed us to open up the space that we have.”

One of these changes included expanding the free weights section. Booth shared that he noticed a trend of increased popularity for weightlifting around 2019, which was the smallest section at the Helena Health Club at the time.

Due to their constant dedication to improvement, the family-owned gym is able to compete against other much larger facilities.

“I’m always excited when when people visit from facilities that 30,000 square feet and they say ‘yeah, you’ve got just about everything they do,’” Booth said. “We’ve got everything that you need. We offer classes. We offer childcare. We have a similar amount of equipment relative to our size.”

At the Helena Health Club, there is a separate playroom for kids with childcare available. Booth shared that offering childcare was something they viewed as a necessity because of how family-oriented the community of Helena is.

“This is a great place to get fit to get healthy, to de-stress and just have fun. That’s the kind of environment we want,” Booth said. “We want mom and dad to have that one hour, two hours, 90 minutes or whatever it is to themselves, to know that their kids are being taken care of and that they can just go and do their thing.”

While their children are being cared for, adults can enjoy one of the many classes offered at Helena Health Club including Zumba, Pilates, yoga, spin, barre, power pump, high-intensity interval training, Silver Sneakers and Sunrise Circuits.

Sunrise Circuits are small, 30 minute classes at 5:30 a.m. designed to give people plenty of time to exercise before going into work.

“Most of our classes are at that 45 to 55 minute range,” Booth said. “(The Sunrise Circuit)  one is intended to be 30 minutes only. Slam bam, Thank you, ma’am. Get you in, get you out, get you showered, get you to work.”

While the Sunrise Circuits are intended for the working citizen, the Silver Sneakers classes are geared toward senior adults.

“We went through a couple iterations of our Silver Sneakers classes to where we’ve now developed a version of it that is pretty unique to us,” Booth said. “The classes I grew up seeing have (the seniors) sitting in chairs and doing some light band work and stuff like that. That’s not how we operate.”

To start, there are several different Silver Sneakers classes available from Silver Sneakers yoga for stretching and flexibility, to SS Dance, a special seniors dance class that developed from a Christmas parade float routine into a weekly class. In addition, there are various levels of Silver Sneakers from a beginner introduction class to a more advanced version.

“This isn’t your traditional Silver Sneakers, so when you come in, there’s a base level of fitness that we need to try to get you to before you jump into those classes,” Booth said.

In addition to a full range of classes, Helena Health Club also offers personalized nutrition coaching, harkening back to Booth’s passion for nutrition.

The Helena Health Club has a few templated nutrition plans for people that need to jumpstart their nutrition journey, but Booth prefers to work with people individually. He believes that meal plans can be discouraging when they’re broken and would rather teach people how to change daily habits.

“For some there’s no nutrition education, so they don’t learn anything. They don’t learn how to change their behavior or their systems within their day to day structure to meet their goals,” Booth said. “I try to teach people how to change their habits within their normal life structure.”

For Booth, helping people reach their fitness and nutrition goals is the reason he comes to work every day.

“I could do this for free and still pay my bills, I would,” Booth said. “I love seeing someone reach their goals by doing something that they’ve never done before. I love that we are a family focused gym. We’ve got so many people that do so many different things. It’s very rewarding.”

As the Helena Health Club celebrates its tenth anniversary this year, Booth shared that he finds himself grateful for the members, the staff and the entire Helena community.

“I love the people here like the staff because they’re all genuine and care about what they do,” Booth said. “Our members are just fantastic. In Helena itself, the community is amazing. It’s very rewarding.”

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