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Kansas Small Business Development Center


Walburn’s Athletic Club Inc.

Walburn’s Athletic Club Inc.

2005 Emerging Business of the Year

In 1979, Kenny Walburn started Walburn’s Gym in the basement of the Godfather’s Pizza building in Emporia, Kansas.  At that time, Walburn’s was recognized mostly as a place for hard-core body-builders.  There was no such thing as a personal trainer, let alone any guidelines, and the basic culture of fitness and overall health that we have today did not exist.  A lot has evolved in this industry between then and now, and Walburn’s too, has evolved and expanded into a successful family-owned-and-managed business with the reputation of a clean, friendly, all-around fitness center with something for everyone, including personal trainers, if desired.

In 2000, Kenny’s son, Brian, sought assistance from the Emporia State University KSBDC with expanding the business and incorporating, to facilitate the ownership of he and his wife, Frannie, along with Kenny.  The KSBDC counselor worked with Brian on business planning and projections for the expansion.  After obtaining SBA approval for a guaranteed loan, the original lender backed out, but Brian persisted and found a bank that wanted their business and was supportive of the project.

The vision of Walburn’s is building a healthier community, one person at a time.  They have worked very hard on their vision, which is evident from the expansion; membership has grown from 98 members in 2000 to 950 members in 2005, floor space has increased from 2,900 square feet to 10,000 square feet, and 48 pieces of equipment were added, as well as both men’s and women’s locker rooms and showers, tanning booths, massage therapy, Kids’ Korner child care, and many new fitness classes.  In 2004, Walburn’s opened in McPherson, Kansas, where Kenny manages the facility.  The business supports many schools, local charities, and various fundraisers.  Congratulations to Walburn’s for building such a successful and well-managed family business!