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Kean University

Kean Health Information Management Graduate Finds Bliss — and Community — as Gym Owner

Kean alumnus Robert Edmond in his store

Kean alumnus Robert Edmond relishes this time of year, when people flock to gyms determined to make good on their new year’s ‘get fit’ resolutions. Edmond owns a gym in West Orange, and building community around healthy habits is where he finds his bliss. 

Edmond, who graduated from Kean in 2000 with a Bachelor of Science in Health Information Management (HIM), opened The MAX Challenge gym franchise in 2017, after spending years as an inpatient coder, assigning billing numbers to hospital procedures. A friend suggested he get out from behind a desk and feed his passion for fitness and helping others.

“I was taught as a young person, and then when I attended Kean, the importance of supporting each other,” said Edmond, who grew up in Franklin Township and now lives in Old Bridge. “With my program at The MAX Challenge, you're going to have a flatter stomach and nicer arms, which we all love, but inside, you're going to feel like you're part of a community.”

The MAX Challenge offers group fitness classes and nutritional counseling, along with guidance and motivation, to people at all levels. The program is designed to produce results within a manageable 10 weeks but can be continued indefinitely for more progress.

Edmond received training from The MAX Challenge in business operations and how to teach and modify exercises. Then, he infused his own philosophy, which is to ensure that all his clients feel seen and welcomed.

“Everyone has my cell phone number,” he said. “It's not like a typical business where you probably don't even know the owner.”

Inspired by his mother, a hospital administrator, Edmond studied HIM because he understood the importance of health care and wanted to help his community. While his studies didn’t specifically prepare him to run a gym, he said, “I always had it within me due to my interest in working out and motivating people.”

That’s exactly what convinced his childhood friend and financial advisor, Allan Boomer, to encourage Edmond to get into the business of building healthy bodies and souls.

“Robert is a natural leader and a people person,” said Boomer, managing partner at Momentum Advisors in New York City. “He wanted to make a difference in the world, helping people to live happier and healthier lives, and he has built his business into one of the top The Max Challenge locations in the country.”

Edmond’s love of community blossomed at Kean through his membership in the Pan African Student Union and relationships with supportive classmates, who helped him when he faced obstacles.

That’s one reason he’s committed to giving back, which he’s done in West Orange through a food drive and by conducting warm up exercises for runners in a 5K to raise awareness about mental health — an important factor, he said, for anyone interested in overall fitness. Edmond also supports his hometown by donating to Franklin High School and a local food bank.

Conferred jointly with the Rutgers School of Health Professions, Kean’s HIM degree prepares students to work in healthcare settings, primarily in administrative roles. Edmond remembers being encouraged by professors who believed he could accomplish anything.

“As a graduate of the HIM program, Robert Edmond is well-prepared to manage and lead a healthcare facility,” said Roxie A. James, Ph.D., a professor in Kean’s School of Natural Sciences. “His various transferable skills have produced a successful businessman who supports people’s health and spirits and charitably gives back to his community.”

As the new year begins, Edmond has a formula for developing a healthier lifestyle by nourishing the body and soul.

“Move your body, especially outdoors. Get more sleep and eat more fruits and vegetables,” he said. “But also, laugh, check in on friends and family, and remember, we rise when we lift others.”