Some might describe California State University, Northridge alumnus Bryan Green ’94 (Marketing) as a “born negotiator.” At the tender age of 9, the future president and CEO of Advantage Fitness Products (AFP) was inspired to create his own employment opportunity.
“I became very into martial arts and, unfortunately, that wasn’t something that my parents could afford at the time,” Green said. “So, I found a creative way to approach the [martial arts] studio, and trade cleaning services and all sort of menial tasks in exchange for lessons.”
Yet, if you ask this energetic entrepreneur and fitness advocate for the formula behind his success, he’s equally likely to credit his education and experience in CSUN’s David Nazarian College of Business and Economics alongside his innate ingenuity.
“Having the opportunity to attend the business school at CSUN was tremendous for me,” said Green. “It enabled me to dive deeper into the elements that helped build my entrepreneurial ‘fire,’ and give me a very important moment in time during which I could learn without penalties, so to speak. I was able to grow and learn the fundamentals.”
That growth blossomed into a successful career in health and fitness, beginning with the development of AFP, his own firm that has designed and supplied fitness solutions for more than 15,000 facilities around the world. In 2018, Green’s gratitude to his alma mater and passion for spreading the word about fitness inspired him to set up a generous endowment to fund enhancements to the university’s 138,000-square-foot Student Recreation Center (SRC).
“Bryan’s investment has allowed us to remain on the cutting edge with regards to a lot of the things we do, program- and equipment-wise,” said Jimmy Francis, SRC director and associate executive director of the University Student Union. “Because of his business, he keeps up with current trends and encourages us to be on the front end of a lot of things.”
To hear Green tell it, his professional climb took hold during his sophomore year at CSUN.
“I wanted to see if I could push myself scholastically, maintain my grades and my focus, and balance that with proper collegiate fun,” he said. Around that time, Green started a job at Busybody Home Fitness, where his burgeoning skills and vision for the health and fitness sector played a role in expanding the then-retail chain from 14 to more than 150 locations across the United States. Meanwhile, his studies at CSUN helped support and cement his activities on the job. (His favorite class? Business Law, which he said provided “a great basis and understanding for collaborative negotiation.”)
Three years after graduation, Green launched his first company, with a mission to support a wide range of commercial fitness facility business development. In addition to AFP, Green is involved in the management of a variety of companies in the health and wellness sector.
The public is best served by an inclusive approach toward helping people improve their health and fitness levels — one that looks beyond traditional sports and athletics, Green said.
“My passion is [for] building facilities that are tailored around the culture and the community that they were intended for,” he said. For CSUN’s SRC, that has meant creating a non-intimidating, student-friendly environment that emphasizes fitness opportunities for students — opportunities that are not necessarily tied to sports. Green, a member of the CSUN Foundation Board of Directors and President’s Associates, has worked closely with the university to facilitate this goal.
“Everybody wants to be healthy and find an avenue toward exercise,” he said.
Today’s college students face a whole different set of challenges in terms of financial hardship and information overload than he did 25 years ago, Green said. The need for students to foster inner discipline and focus is greater than ever, he added. His own positive experience at CSUN remains part of who he is, and it drives him to give back whenever and however he can. CSUN’s need for a top-notch SRC facility was a perfect fit. Green encourages other potential donors to find similar connections.
“Consider giving back in a way that will make you proud in the future, whether that’s connected to your industry or just to the world you would like to see,” he said.
For CSUN, Green’s ongoing involvement is a game changer, said Debra Hammond, executive director of the University Student Union.
“Our budget is limited and only allows us to do so much, so when you have somebody like Bryan, who really believes in and wants to support CSUN, continue to invest in us — not only financially but with his expertise and connections — that means the world to us,” she said. “And it is the students who benefit.”