The beginning of the month saw the doors to Destrehan’s Anytime Fitness open again for the first time since Hurricane Ida caused extensive damage to the building, and the end of the month saw the long-time owner of the franchise sell the business to two of her long-time employees.
Michelle Oubre was one of the owners who opened the fitness location a decade ago, and five years later she bought out the other co-owners.
“We celebrated ten years on Jan 7,” Oubre said. “My husband Richard and I decided after the storm that it was time to sell it. Our plan was to sell it in about three years, but when something like Ida hit it caused us to slow down and reflect and we knew it was time to do it now. I told Richard the only way I’d agree to sell is if we found the right people to take it over.”
The Oubres didn’t have to look far to find a perfect ownership fit. Two longtime employees of the gym – Brandon Hebert and Daniell Nielsen Jenkins – signed papers this weekend to make the same final.
Oubre said she’ll still be at the gym weekly, but that she’s excited to have accepted a full-time, remote job with Silver Sneakers.
“It’s just time,” Oubre said. “It shows you how there are silver linings in everything. Brandon and Daniell are going to be a perfect fit as leaders. I’m super excited about that. We’re one big family, and I’m super excited that it’s staying in the family … I wouldn’t have had it any other way.”
Hebert has been employed by Oubre for a decade.
“I actually interviewed with her at the Anytime Fitness in Luling,” he said. “She got me over here (in Destrehan) and I was helping put furniture and equipment together here before they ever opened the door.”
Hebert said his part in owning the gym is a dream come true.
“I had always wanted to own a gym, but I never knew I wanted an Anytime Fitness gym,” he said. “But once we started getting into their brand and purpose and what they stand for and how it was about leading a better life by being healthy and happy … I knew it was a good fit.”
Hebert said his new venture into business ownership comes with mixed emotions.
“It’s exciting and scary at the same time … just like I’m sure any business owner would say,” he said laughing. “But in taking the gym over the plan is to do everything we’ve been doing before … just making people healthy and happy and going out in the community to do great things.”
Hebert and Jenkins, now business partners, first met in 2012.
“Years ago I trained Daniell after her husband Brandon Nielsen was killed in the line of duty as a police officer,” Hebert said. “It’s crazy how it all ties together in the end.”
Jenkins laughed when asked if she ever thought she’d own a gym.
“Oh absolutely not,” she said. “It was a big jump for me to go from client to employee. I never even imagined then that we would be here now … it’s pretty extraordinary. In 2015 I became a trainer but October 3, 2012, is when I first walked in. I hadn’t worked out in years, but I just remember laying in bed one night and had this realization that I’m all that my daughter had left … it was terrifying to me because I wasn’t taking care of myself.”
Jenkins said when she walked into Anytime Fitness – the new gym in town that had just opened up – she was shocked when Oubre told her that she knew her story and wanted to gift her with a membership and a year of free personal training.
“I was like, ‘Oh geez, I was just wanting to come walk on the treadmill,’” Jenkins said laughing. “Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be here from there.”
Jenkins said she is thrilled to be able to serve Destrehan and the local community. When she remarried in 2016 she moved to St. James Parish because of her husband’s job, but said that her heart remains in St. Charles Parish.
“I continued to work here because I’m connected here … these are my people,” she said. “This community … when Brandon died … the community of St. Charles Parish literally picked up my family and carried us. This is where my heart is. This is where my people are. I want to help these people.”
Both Hebert and Jenkins said they are honored to continue the work Oubre has started.
“We want to take everything we’ve seen and learned in the past ten years and keep doing that, but to bring our own twist and ideas to it,” Hebert said.
“We can’t wait to carry on Michelle’s legacy,” she said.