Who is Carlton Washington?
Fitness presented in Carlton’s life as it does for most young boys: as the way to impress girls.
For a teen in the 90s—and for a teen who would later share the helm of an anti-aging empire—Jay Cutler and Arnold Schwarzenegger were at the height of optimum fitness. Carlton spent afternoons training in his garage with this physique in his sights, when not working at a health food store reading supplement labels and drinking wheat grass.
Aside from one unfortunate, overweight semester, Carlton operated with this level of fitness into his 20s and 30s. Even now, owning three corporate locations and overseeing 8 operational franchises—and 60 in the pipeline—Carlton never misses a day of training. It’s this willpower and dedication that serves him in a competitive industry, and what he looks for in his partner, his executive team, his center staff, and his franchisees. It’s why 4Ever Young Anti Aging solutions remains afloat during market pitfalls; Carlton—and his demographic—are not casual fitness enthusiasts.
Because while fitness served its purpose in adolescence, it evolved to fulfill new needs as Carlton aged into a professional career. Where real estate & business banking provided his family a deserved life, it fell flat when met with Carlton’s desire for autonomy and passionate livelihood, especially when he moved to South Florida. The hyperactive metropolitan didn’t hit the mark for Carlton; he struggled to connect with people and to find meaning in the everyday.
Depression set in and reached a burning point. He needed out of the corporate race, needed to find a launching pad for his unique skillset: bulldogged resilience and determination, top-producing revenue generation, unparalleled commitment. He said to his wife, “If I don’t figure something out, I’m going to go dance at Mango’s (South Beach) or become a bartender. This isn’t working.”
This was in 2014. Already a Hormone Replacement Therapy patient, Carlton began paying close attention during his visits to his providing center; watching clientele check in and out, doing the math—he knew the overhead, and he knew what he himself was paying to use their services. This was no mystery: these guys were making a killing. Carlton wanted in.
Unfortunately (or fortunately, for devoted 4Ever Young patients nationwide), these guys had no interest in Carlton. Here is where the magic began.
It had always been a dream of Carlton’s to compete in a bodybuilding competition. No surprise, considering his adolescent inspiration. Coinciding with his nascent entrepreneurial spirit, Carlton hunted for the best trainer in Boca. No shortage of these here, it’s hard not to call “kismet” at the junction of Carlton Washington and Deniz Duygulu.
The men struck a quick friendship over similar musings: both service-using wellness enthusiasts, they wondered why there yet didn’t exist a one-stop shop for men forever interested in optimizing health and wellness. Why must they get bloodwork at one facility, HRT at another, supplements at yet another? Wouldn’t it be great if there were such a place where patients might experience high-quality customer service while undergoing comprehensive bloodwork analyses and customized profiling? Where they might continue visiting a familial staff, passionate about maintaining optimum wellness via unique aesthetic and wellness programs?
The men opened their first 4Ever Young Anti Aging Center later that year.
It could not have been born in a hungrier breeding ground. Boca went bananas for Botox, In the door for aesthetics, soon more patients became aware of hormone deficiencies and therapies, and they were not shy to spread the word about 4Ever Young’s other half of the model: Feel Your Best, offering wellness services like hormone, IV vitamin, and peptide therapies, and customized fitness and diet regimens. Dense Orlando populations got wind, as did the snowbirds. Soon patients were lining the corridors, sitting on the floor for hours at a time, waiting to sign in and get a regimen started. There was only one way forward, and that was to open a second location.
Soon the duo considered franchising. A popular appearance on Kevin O’Leary’s Money Court broadcasted this consideration, leaving the cofounders with much to wonder. Is franchising the right move? Neither had a backlist of investors, nor rich families—every move they made was on their own two feet. As any founder would know, it’s a tough decision to make; Franchising might mitigate the devastation of weaning capital, but it presents a revolving door of brand stressors. Would franchisees follow the carefully laid process? Or would it be a runaway train?
At the end, the numbers won out. The duo decided to franchise.
How is that faring, now that market fluctuation holds fitness facilities like LifeTime and Planet Fitness in the balance (both shares are down, 27 and 23% respectively)? Why will 4Ever Young’s whole-body approach to wellness survive the pitfalls?
Carlton’s response is realistic. “You say that (shares are down), but boutique gyms are thriving. We’re not in this business for discount gymgoers. I don’t market to the $10/month gym membership. Deniz and I—and the 4Ever Young constituency—are passionate about wellness. We know that fitness should suck up a big percentage of income. Even if it’s 30%, even if you have to move in with somebody to make it happen, if you have to give up other luxuries. The types of people who know that fitness provides ALL opportunity, that the fitter you are, the better you are at everything…that is 4Ever Young.” And this is what continues to get Carlton up every morning—the absolute faith in fitness as a lifestyle optimum.
“Think about it: if you lost everything, if you had nothing…but you still washed your face and kept a haircut and stuck it out at the gym. You will get that job over the guy that lets it all go. Fitness provides all opportunities. I genuinely believe that, and I’m here to help everyone make it happen for themselves.”
And what a time to be a pioneer for an evergreen industry nowhere near its peak. When asked about the normalization of aesthetic services, especially for men (think “Brotox”), Carlton is unsurprised. “Sure, this is South Florida. People here prioritize the way they look. But this is gaining nationwide traction. Already it’s popular in Atlanta, New York, and Los Angeles—it’s a matter of moments before it sweeps the nation. Remember when the term “metrosexual” hit the scene? This paved the way for shows like “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy”, for men to start caring about their appearances– matching their clothing, washing their faces. People don’t blink down here when a man walks in for one of our Look Your Best services, and it has little to do with our popularity and influence.
We’re just riding the wave of manufacturer investment. Manufacturers influence celebrities, who influence the masses, and soon it’s a normalized trend. We’re lucky to get here at the right time. And we just happen to be the best at what we do.”
Luck, timing, know-how…call it what you will, 4Ever Young is blazing a trail through the anti-aging industry, one that will see a CAGR of 5.5% by 2030. And they survived the learning curve in a hugely demanding demographic, Boca Raton.
There’s also a global trend towards ultra-luxury wellness facilities, like the Red Sea Development’s AMAALA on the coastline of Saudi Arabia. And in anticipation of projected tourism booms, employment and educational programs are putting a strict emphasis on luxury-service training. Carlton takes a unique approach to this pressure, maintaining that 4Ever Young is not “luxury service”.