Tag Archives: black owned business

Houston Super Trainer & HBCU Advocate Marcus Walker Discusses Fitness, Entrepreneurship, And His Staunch Support For HBCUs


To keep the body in good health is a duty…otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear. – Buddha

Recent years have seen a boom in the fitness industry among those 40 and under. A desire to be fit, not develop dad bods, and live active lifestyles has seen small gyms popping up all over the country, especially in urban centers. Looking at the numbers of the fitness industry that seems to be just scratching the surface it is not hard to understand the lure for entrepreneurs and investors. According to Statista, “The global fitness and health club industry generates more than 80 billion U.S. dollars in revenue per year. The North American market had an estimated size of more than 28 billion U.S. dollars in 2015, of which 90 percent, around 25.8 billion U.S. dollars, was attributable to the United States. The U.S. is the single biggest market worldwide not only in terms of revenue but in regards to the number of members in health & fitness clubs as well.” This booming industry seems to be just scratching the surface as people’s desire to live longer and more quality lives becomes more and more a societal norm and value. HBCU Money caught up with Marcus Walker, one of Houston, Texas’ premier trainers, who we caught up with in between sessions to talk fitness, the business side, and why he supports HBCUs despite having not attended one.

How can small businesses integrate fitness into their business to ensure they have healthier and productive employees? They can partner with a local trainer to see if they have a plan that would help make the owner and workers aware of living a healthier life. It is no secret that healthy employees call out of work less, work more efficiently, and overall are more productive. From a bottom line perspective alone it is worth small businesses who have to watch every dime to be invested in employees who are healthy and fit.

A second aspect is engaging their customers as well. They could partner with a trainer and run specials for customers who shop with their business. The latter part shows that they care not only about their customers’ business, but their well being. Be more than just a business in the community, be a community partner.

If you could meet with the mayor, governor, or president, what would be your advice on how government can help its citizens achieve healthier lifestyles? I would start by showing them the effects that fast food have on people. Obviously in a city like Houston that is geographically very spread out and has a heavy reliance on cars there is a tendency toward less activity and unhealthy eating as we spend a good deal of our days driving. I would suggest that they create a program focusing on providing favorable small business loans for vegan, gluten-free, and clean eating businesses so that we could have healthier options. The fresher the food, the better it is for you. Replacing those late night fast food chains with healthy options would be a great start.

There are a lot of different avenues to be an entrepreneur within the fitness industry. Where are some areas you feel African Americans are underrepresented or over looking that has opportunity in the industry? We are definitely underrepresented in owning gyms. There are a lot of African American trainers, but not a lot of gym owners. It’s not easy to run a gym, but its doable. It requires hard work, being hands on, and providing an atmosphere that people feel great about being committed too.

How is technology impacting the world of fitness for gyms and trainers? Technology is making gym and training experiences better for all. As a trainer you are allowed the opportunity to train people all over the world by training online. It also has made it possible to make sure clients and gym members keep correct form on certain machines that guide you in the right direction to ensure they are truly maximizing workout efforts. For trainers, it has helped keep their small business running smoothly by offering different apps that do everything from keeping up with clients to filing taxes correctly.

Despite typically being a more active time, health issues like obesity and the like are on the rise at HBCU campuses. A few years ago, Spelman College scrapped its entire athletic program in favor of a campus wise holistic wellness program for all students and Paul Quinn College eliminated pork from its cafeterias. What are some other opportunities you believe HBCUs can help their students be healthy while in college and after? They could offer free seminars on meal prepping, portion control, alternate healthier late night snacks, and drive home the importance of brain food. I also feel like an elective should be required just to bring awareness to being healthy. These students are often returning to family and communities that they can help impart that knowledge on, so it is vital that we give them the information needed.

In closing, you did not attend an HBCU, but have been a staunch advocate over the years. What brought this on and what message would you give to other African Americans who did not attend HBCUs about supporting them? I didn’t attend an HBCU as you said, but as I began to dig deep into our history, I found the importance of HBCUs. I would tell any African Americans to do their best to promote, support, and give to HBCUs. We are some amazing people and we need to support our own. We are all we have.

You can find Marcus Walker training at Houston Muscleheadz Gym. Also follow him on Instagram @MWalker357 to see his Temple Building process.

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Higher Minimum Wage: An Attack On African American Small Business Growth


By William A. Foster, IV

Labor is the great producer of wealth; it moves all other causes. – Daniel Webster

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As often is the case, anytime the populous conversation about raising the minimum wage comes around you will see a huge rallying from the African American community. This is primarily because the majority of African America is labor and not heavily invested in ownership. African American firms with paid employees represent an appalling 1.8 percent of American firms with paid employees and only 7 percent of all American firms. Not even close to an equitable representation since we comprise 15 percent of the country’s population. We are a far cry from the days of Black Wall Street. These days we spend our time begging for employment and entrance into firms controlled by other communities. Then we appear baffled as to why our unemployment rate is constantly double that of the national average and three times that of Asian America or why all of the capital is leaving our communities.

Despite African America only comprising 1.8 percent of American firms with paid employees, these firms employ almost 6 percent of African America’s working population. In comparison, Asian America has 7 percent of all American firms with paid employees and employs almost 34 percent of Asian America’s employed population. The correlation is obvious that businesses started by a community tend to hire their community. This is true in terms of community defined by ancestry, gender, geography, education level, or socioeconomic status. As a result of this more citizens within that community are earning income, buying power increases, unemployment decreases, and social issues decrease. Psychology 101 tells us that people like to associate with people whom they believe have similar values and interest. The very first thing that every person with eyesight uses to make this judgement is a person’s appearance. The politically correct police will argue that is what we have to work against, but while we are waiting on Utopia the rest of us have to work in reality.

President Obama and his administration are bent on a one size fits all America approach to income inequality. However, it is no secret that high levels of asset ownership increases the level of income that a group can accumulate and it certainly benefits them in terms of lessening their tax liability allowing them to keep more of their money. An example is hedge fund owners who pay 20 percent while making hundreds of millions and LeBron James pays 40 percent for earning tens of millions. Also highlighting that even well paid labor is still just that – labor and does not enjoy the privileges that the tax code bequeaths to ownership. The increase in minimum wage will not make that easier for African Americans, but harder.  According to Keeley Mullis of the National Federation of Independent Business, “Big corporations do not have to absorb the cost of minimum wage increases because most minimum-wage jobs are offered by small businesses.” Given the education reality of African America, only 18 percent of African Americans 25 and older hold college degrees which is second lowest in the country and a 62 percent high school graduation rate which ranks lowest in the country, most of our labor force is low-skilled labor and more likely to work minimum wage jobs than almost any other group per capita.

There is also the acute compounding problem of wealth. African America’s median net worth, according to the Pew Research Center is $5,677 leaving us with 24 times less wealth than European Americans and 14 times less than Asian Americans. Is it no wonder then that in our own communities we tend to only see small businesses owned by outsiders. That is to say nothing of the ownership of medium-sized companies and we are virtually non-existent in large company ownership. To the best of my research thus far, there are no African American owned companies that make up the Forbes’ Largest Private American Companies list. A list that requires a minimum of $2 billion in annual revenues. For an African American family starting a small business, they are already facing the challenge of limited resources at their disposal. Both in terms of wealth to get started, access to support capital which is a result of poorly capitalized African American owned banks & credit unions, and even training which has its own cost to acquire both in terms of human capital and economic capital.

Real power and real wealth in capitalism is created through ownership. A father or mother can not pass a job along to their child, but they can pass a business to them increasing the probability of income stability for generations. Why make that harder for a group that has limited wealth to get started by increasing the already largest burden most small businesses encounter? As a consequence, impacting communities which continue to struggle with acute levels of unemployment and thereby the domino effect toward social issues. You can not just magically expect job creation to come to communities. It is communities who create their own job creation. As a result, it must be made obvious that while an increased minimum wage will not hurt other groups who are wealthier, this will have an adverse impact on African America’s wealth and employment growth prospects.

If Democrats and Republicans really want to do something about income equality, then the solution is to find a way to increase the access for entrepreneurship training through HBCU initiatives and create incentive programs to African American owned banks and credit unions to focus on small business lending. The latter should decrease the amount of predatory lending that African Americans historically have faced with banks like Wells Fargo, Bank of American, and others. It is true that the president is not just president of African America, but all of America. However, African America should be slow to support populous policies just for the sake of without realizing the potential of their cascading effect on our own community.