Catching Up with Former Player Rep: Brendon Ayanbadejo
A former NFL linebacker, Ayanbadejo played 10 seasons in the league after graduating from UCLA. We recently caught up with the 3x Pro-Bowler and Super Bowl Champ, he gave us insight into his life during and after football.
What is your current career?
Right now I’m in franchising, specifically fitness franchising. I am the area developer for Orangetheory Fitness in Los Angeles and the Bay Area. Not only do we franchise out locations but also own them and are responsible for bringing the units to market. On top of this, I am the regional coach for the area which basically means I teach the coaches how to be coaches. I do everything from small jobs like cleaning the bathroom, signing leases and finding retail space, to teaching the actual workout classes. Overall, it’s a lot of fun.
How would you describe your experience leaving the game?
I played 10 years in the league and I would like to think that by now I have completed the transition with a “PHD in teamwork” which is something that is so valuable. I have also come to see how a multi-billion-dollar company is run. I spent a lot of time with Dick Cass, the President of the Baltimore Ravens and was able to learn the different levels of the organization even on an administration side. I was able to appreciate their jobs a lot more once I was out of the game and dealing with my own company. As reps, we’re exposed to so many different things, the PR, the marketing and of course the nuts and bolts of playing the game and how we all work together for the greater good of our team. There was so much experience that is valuable in the business world that we don’t tend to think about. The thing I’ve mostly noticed is the lack of teamwork there is in the business world and I come from a background where teamwork is everything. It’s just a lesson you don’t even realize you’re getting until you leave the game.
What are you most proud of during your time as a player rep?
I think as players we are of course, all there to play the game but what is more important is how we impact the community. I love the way the game of football has changed. We are now able to connect and impact our fans directly and from a safety prospective, the game is just a lot safer now.
How has being a player rep impacted you personally & professionally?
Personally, just seeing how it all works had a big impact on me. I remember we took our player rep trip to the Bahamas and learned about voting and different topics such as the split between owners and coaches. There’s just so many different things you get to be a part of as a player rep that others don’t experience. On the professional side, it impacted me because we got to see everything monetarily and saw how the league was run just like a business. We looked at not only what brings in the dollars, but what those dollars are used for. Another super valuable thing for me was that as a player you’re receiving income but the owners and the team are generating that income. Professionally, I want to become an income generator and not just a receiver, the one writing the checks but also the one receiving the biggest check. It was helpful to learn about that during my time in the game and seeing it first hand from the league.
What advice would you give yourself looking back?
Looking back, I was kind of like a middle of the line player. I was always going to make every team and I was always going to play and be a leader but I can’t say I ever really excelled. Even though I made a couple pro-bowls and definitely wasn’t on the bottom of the roster, I also wasn’t the greatest player. I would tell myself looking back to achieve and want more. Even though I played in 3 pro bowls and a Super Bowl you just always have to be hungry and you should always have an idea of how to achieve more. If your idea is to make a team, you’ll make a team, but if your idea is to be the greatest ever then you’ll constantly push to be better. You have to shoot higher than what you think your potential is and you’ll land higher than where you think you can land. I’m super proud, but I do think I could have done more with my time in the league, that’s just the competitor in me.
Have you taken advantage of any of the services of the PA since retirement?
There’s a lot of different things I have done, for example, Brain and Body. I’ve gone to the reunions as well as the chapter meetups which are always fun because you get to see some of the older players as well as the guys I used to play with, and against.
So right now, we have about 30 studio locations open and our overall goal is to open 100 so we can achieve upwards of a $300Million valuation. I have my nose to grindstone right now I am in the middle of it all so we’ll just see where it goes in the next 3 or 4 years. I have a couple dreams and goals beyond that but for the next couple of years reaching that goal of 100 locations is a priority. I am also still involved in a lot of philanthropy and motivational speaking so of course I’d like to continue with that. One day I would love to be able to bring fitness to lower income communities.
Any other thoughts you would like to share?
A lot of players have a hard time transitioning out of the game and it’s important that people remember we are not “retiring” rather we’re transitioning and the language needs to be just that. I don’t know if I’ll ever truly retire, and most guys are like me. We’ve achieved such a high level of success through sport and we all have that competitor’s spirit. We love to work hard, and accomplish and achieve so why would we say “retire” when we could say “transition”.
A lot of guys are passionate about different things. In order to become successful, you need to take that passion and marry it to a problem. For me, I use my passion of fitness to motivate others and help them become healthier and fit.