Charles Anderson has taken his passion for health and fitness and transformed it into a unique business concept designed to transform his clients from the inside out. A graduate of Colorado State University with a degree in exercise sports science, Anderson struggled with his own fitness issues before setting out on a path to help others.
A former college football player, Anderson began to put on weight, after leaving college.
“After football, I was used to eating for football and the weight began to pile on. I was eating pizza and drinking beer and had gotten up to 250 pounds,” says Anderson.
It took Anderson 4 years to lose the weight and make the commitment to his own fitness.
“When I was in Colorado, I started trying to get into the fitness business because I heard about the success, believe or not, of Oprah Winfrey’s trainer – that was what made me consider actually even doing this,” says Anderson.
He began training clients in his apartment complex charging $10/hour and later joined the fitness industry as a trainer at 24-Hour Fitness in Honolulu. Eager to learn more, he later transferred to the company’s Silicon Valley location, where he gained insights on the fitness business from the individuals that launched the franchise.
Armed with knowledge and certified in weight management, Anderson returned to the Houston area and managed franchise locations in Sugar Land and the Galleria area before striking out to open his own fitness clubs. Four years after opening and selling his second fitness club, Anderson came up with the idea to open a food business, along with his wife, a fellow body builder, to service the nutritional needs of clients.
“One of my fitness clients was a chef, so I asked him if I got a location would he mind preparing the meals,” said Anderson. In a kitchen incubator in downtown, the pair collaborated on controlled-portion nutrition-based meal plan concept that quickly caught on.
“We opened a place in June 2012 and already had a demand and client base of people to buy the monthly meals,” said Anderson. In his storefront location in Township Square in Missouri City, a regular and growing stream of clients stop in to purchase his meal plans.
A year after opening the doors to Food4Thought, business is good for Anderson. The multi-faceted entrepreneur continues to run his own fitness training and nutritional counseling business, A-Team Fitness Services, with wife Christine, and also promotes fitness competitions.
Anderson credits the talents of business partner and chef, Juan Llamas, with bringing the custom-made meal plans to life for clients while he focuses on promoting and growing the business. “I’m just a hustling kind of guy so I get out and put out flyers and promote the business around the area so he can focus on doing a quality job as a chef,” says Anderson.
The goal of Food 4 Thought is to combine nutrition with great taste to help clients as they work to achieve their weight management goals.
“We create calorie conscious meals that are only 400 calories per meal. You can manage your weight, because we balance the calories for you,” says Anderson.
Food4Thought also offers breakfast meals that are 300 calories. All meals have 20 to 30 grams of protein per meal along with adequate carbohydrates to create energy balance and a sense of fullness, according to the company.
With more than 20 meal plans, customers can choose from a diverse selection of meals ranging from red snapper with strawberry chipotle sauce and spanish rice to lean steak and sweet potatoes to turkey meatballs and pasta with homemade sauce.
“What we are trying to do is create an atmosphere for athletes and the average person, because the meal plans can work for both,” says Llamas.
The business also places a premium on using the leanest high quality meats in all of their dishes and on purchasing produce and meats from businesses in the surrounding community.
“We buy our produce from Baty’s Produce Market, a fresh outdoor produce in Arcola,” shares Anderson.
“No preservatives are put in any of our meals. We try to keep it as simple as possible and still have a good taste,” says Llamas of the company’s meal preparation techniques.
That simple process has resulted in continuous growth for the company.
“The beautiful thing about what he does is he makes all of his spices on his own,” adds Anderson, which allows the company to manufacture and sell their products throughout the city.
As a result, the pair is marketing their meal plans in specially-branded Food4Thought on-site cooler pantries at select businesses, including Smoothie Factory, 5330 Hwy 6 Ste. #116 in Missouri City, Smoothie Factory, 4634 Hwy 6 in Sugar Land and Mid Town Market, 208 West Gray in Houston.
“We encourage offices that have a large work staff to contact us and any facility that has a good amount of foot traffic,” says Anderson.
In a short time span, Anderson has made an impact not only in growing his brand but in helping his clients transform their bodies and their lives.
One client, a woman who suffered from high blood pressure, began eating the company’s specially-prepared, low sodium meal plans and lost 20 to 25 pounds.
“It helped her actually change her blood pressure profile where she didn’t need all the medication she was taking,” says Anderson.
Another client, DeLano Daniels, who met Anderson in 2007, credits Anderson’s fitness regimen and meal plans with saving his life. Suffering several personal losses including the death of his daughter, the loss of his job and a painful divorce in a period of six months, Delano was at a low-point in his life.
“I don’t think he knows where he pulled me from, I had lost everything. I reached out to him and told him I wanted to get in shape again. I was on his meal plans for about four months and went from 217 pounds to 155,” says Daniels.
With two master’s degrees under his belt, Daniels has rebuilt his life and is now a certified personal trainer and competitive body builder.
“Exercise definitely got me back into the mind set I’m in now. A year is not that long, but I’ve done a complete 180 and right now I couldn’t be happier,” says Daniels.
Motivating people to invest in their own health and fitness, as well as their dreams, is a driving force for Anderson.
“You can’t just give up on something because it doesn’t go right, because usually it’s not going to go the way you want it to in the beginning,” says Anderson, recalling his early days of training clients in his apartment complex.
“I would say a quarter of what I’ve been doing has been a struggle. I had to put in hard work before I saw success,” says Anderson.
He hopes to encourage entrepreneurs to hold onto their dreams during the challenging times of birthing and sustaining a business.
“Sometimes as a business owner you’re tired and you’d rather sit down and watch TV or do something different, but if you go ahead and finish what you started you have more time to enjoy the fruits of your labors,” adds Anderson.
Anderson is enjoying those fruits and has been contacted by companies in California and New York who have expressed interest in operating Food4Thought franchises in their communities.
He and his business partner are excited about the growth and impact their business has had and plan to continue to help individuals achieve their health and fitness goals, one meal at a time.
Anderson’s Business Success Tips
Being in business is a challenge if you do not have a least 2 years of planning and funding for success
1. Do not quit your day job – the start of a business should be a low overhead venture where you might be able to keep your current job to save money or cover unforeseen expenses.
2. Create a solid business plan – You can find great inexpensive business plan programs online or at a computer store. Business plans force us to project out our business for the next 5 to 7 years.
3. Make it a triple – Come up with the projected funding you need and triple it. Unforeseen things come up in business; the closer you get to the triple rule the longer you can stay in business to create more awareness.
4. Be a champion of your business – create situations through social media and keep cards in your pocket at the grocery store.
For more information on Food4Thought or to order meal plans, visit www.cafood4thought.com.
To inquire about placing one of the company’s cooling pantries at your company or business, email firstname.lastname@example.org.