Frank Simmons Wants to Make You Fit!
Frank has lived abroad for 5 years, graduated from high school twice, attended college, achieved a management position in a national personal fitness chain, launched his own fitness apparel brand (Next Level Fitness Apparel @nlfa365), collaborated with a local Germantown small business to launch a successful meal prep service, developed a thriving personal training business and is now dedicating his time to engage the public and his West Philly community engagement regarding the importance of health and fitness. All this by the age of just 23!
Frank was born in West Philly and grew up in Wynnefield where he lived with his mother until the age of 12. In 2009 he moved to Ghana with his aunt and uncle and lived there while his aunt was posted to Ghana as a diplomat from Denmark. When his aunt was reassigned to the West African nation of Benin, Frank moved again and attended school in the Benin school system. He later returned to Ghana to live in the palatial home of his grandmother, a retired High Court justice, and lived there until he graduated from high school at the age of 17. These formative years were, in Frank’s words, ones of “culture shock” as he worked to adjust to the many differences between Philadelphia, Ghana and Benin.
At age 17, Frank decided to return to Philadelphia and, facing the prospect of attending college as an international student at vastly more expensive tuition costs (despite his US citizenship) he elected to re-enroll in high school at West Catholic and finished his senior year there, obtaining his second high school diploma. During this year, Frank struggled with the culture shock of returning to West Philly from Africa. To help him cope with the adjustment, Frank started working out daily at Planet Fitness. Frank describes this period as the most transformative of his life. His daily gym routine became therapeutic – it gave him focus, taught him self-discipline and consistency, and taught him the benefits of systematic perseverance. “I started asking them to let me work there every day I went” Frank says, and eventually, in March 2015, Frank got his wish.
During his time at Planet Fitness, Frank built the foundation for many future endeavors. From the first days when he started working out, Frank was approached by friends and others for help and pointers on working out, fitness and healthy living. This experience lead Frank to study personal training and nutrition on his own, and ultimately to pursue exercise science, or kinesiology, as his college major at Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania. “Studying personal training and fitness helped me help others succeed – and that is really what I am all about” says Frank. As he built his personal training practice, attended college and continued to work managing multiple Planet Fitness locations, Frank flew to London at age 21 to build a collaboration with 2 other young trainers which lead to the launch of his successful Next Level Fitness Apparel brand. Next Level Fitness Apparel, or NLFA 365, produces a unique line of gym-centered apparel and lifestyle accessories and now ships to all 50 states.
Back in Philly, Frank identified a real need among his training clients for good, healthy fitness-focused meals that supported his clients’ individual nutrition needs. Working with Bistro on the Mall in Germantown, Frank developed a personalized meal prep service that brings each client their exact nutritional needs in a delicious and affordable way.
Despite his already busy life and schedule, Frank has made a deliberate effort to bring his message of health and fitness to his West Philly community. From free fitness camps he organized while working at Planet Fitness, to talks he gave at his alma mater West Catholic, to his dedication to hiring youth from his community to work at Planet Fitness, Frank is a tireless advocate for the benefits of health and fitness. “I was proud to have the highest employee turnover rate of any manager at Planet Fitness” says Frank. “I would hire high school kids to work for me to teach them about healthy living and keeping fit, to keep them out of trouble and to give them money and experience they could use to get into college. If they only stayed a year or so till they left for college, that was great!”
Frank plans to continue to grow his businesses and to educate the public about healthy living and fitness through one-on-one training and education and through his Instagram accounts. The success of his business ventures has moved his life in new and exciting directions – as exemplified by his leaving Planet Fitness in December 2020. “It’s an exciting time for me” says Frank, “and I hope to continue to inspire people to realize the benefits of health and fitness regardless of their socioeconomic background or life experience. It really matters!”
Asked what inspires him to complete his goals, Frank says he drew his early inspiration from himself and his desire to change his life circumstances and to cope with the cultural changes he experienced as a young man moving back and forth between West Philly and Africa. These experiences, as well as the workout and fitness routine he developed to cope with his changing life, have made him the person he is today.
“If I can continue to touch the lives of others for the good, I’ll consider myself a success. I truly believe in working to transform the lives of those I serve.”