It was March 2014 when Helen Martin first met Jordan Gold, the founder of Miami-bred Stretch Zone, at a local golf tournament. Until then, Martin had made quite a name for herself within the sporting goods industry, including a 20-year span that included The Sports Authority’s corporate office in Fort Lauderdale to a major sports marketing role in Atlanta to owning her own kid-centric business, Kwik Golf.
“When I met Jordan, it changed the direction of my life and my family’s life,” she says. “We met in March 2014, and, by the end of May 2014, I had rented floor space at a local physical therapist’s office in Stuart and was underway. Back then, I didn’t have a website and just had demo cards to hand to my friends to come in for a free stretch. Eventually, things have been built up brick-by-brick.”
For Stretch Zone newbies, the experience lives up to its name. It’s all about increased mobility and muscle function. Accredited practitioners follow the brand’s patented Stretch Zone Stabilization System to stabilize and isolate muscles during an assisted stretching session.
Today, Martin owns a 2,000 square-foot, state-of-the-art facility in her hometown, Stuart, with five tables. And that’s not all. In total, she now owns 22 total Stretch Zones in three states—Florida, Texas and North Carolina—and has more than 125 employees. The seventeen stores she owns in-state span geographically from Orlando down to Fort Lauderdale and include storefronts in Lighthouse Point, Coconut Creek, Boca Raton, Boynton Beach, Wellington, West Palm Beach and Palm Beach Gardens. She also manages 15 additional Stretch Zone locations, assisting fellow Stretch Zone franchisees with their respective journeys. Martin estimates that each of her locations sees between 50 to 60 clients per day.
As for how she’s accumulated so many successful locations, it’s been a mix of opening new spots and buying locations from existing Stretch Zone owners. She said she started by opening at a two-stores-per-year pace and, reflecting with a laugh, “because I had an obsession with even numbers.” Since 2020, she says, she has added 15 stores, the bulk being purchases of existing locations.
She credits the unique culture she’s built for their success. “Culture really is such an important part,” she says. “The majority of our studios are small, coming in at around 1,200 square feet. So, we want our clients to feel like they’re coming in on the red carpet and really getting the VIP treatment. Nothing makes me happier that to hear our clients’ laughter, stories and to hear how much we’re helping them. In many cases, it almost feels like a barbershop atmosphere.”
For her work with Stretch Zone and beyond, Martin recently took home two major accolades. First, she was named “Franchisee of the Year” by the International Franchise Association at the organization’s recent annual convention in Las Vegas. The IFA has more than 1,400 franchise brand members, Stretch Zone being among them. Martin was also recently honored with an Emerald Award from Girl Scouts of Southeast Florida for how she has brought innovation to her field and community.
Looking ahead, Martin hopes to have upwards of 40 to 50 total locations. She says she plans to partner with Stretch Zone owners in Detroit, with the goal of opening two stores in Michigan this summer. She also has her eyes on the Houston market.
“I learned a long time ago that you build wealth by treating people well,” she says. “I really do try to do that, with my clients, team and with corporate. It’s really pretty simple.”
Photo by Eduardo Schneider