Brick Family Works on Global Reach While Staying True to Their Roots
“Everyone has a basic character,” Victor Brick says. “We are a nurse and a teacher—we are givers.”
Victor and his wife, Lynne, along with their daughter, Vicki, are the entrepreneurial masterminds behind a fitness center dynasty that now spans four states and includes dozens of facilities. Their extraordinary, if unexpected, story began in a Towson University gymnasium.
“I was in the gym, playing basketball with the guys, and this beautiful girl walks through,” Victor recounts. “I looked at my buddy and said, ‘I’m going to marry her.’”
It took a little time, and some creative storytelling (Victor told his future wife he was planning to try out for her dance company), but eventually they became a couple.
Lynne graduated from Towson with a degree in nursing and took a job at the University of Maryland’s Shock Trauma Center, while Victor worked as a recreation director and basketball coach. The Bricks soon started a family. When daughter Vicki was born, Victor sought extra cash to support his new family. He answered an ad in the Baltimore Sun for an aerobics instructor. He was hired.
Victor admits his first class was a disaster. “I set the class to ‘Scarborough Fair’ by Simon and Garfunkel,” he says, smiling. “Successful people know their limitations.”
So Victor recruited his dancer wife to teach the class instead. He couldn’t know it at the time, but the decision would prove to be a life-changing one.
Lynne’s classes became so popular that her schedule soon included more than 20 sessions a week. When the fitness club where she was teaching fired her for overshadowing the rest of their offerings, she began holding classes in a rented space.
“EVERYONE COMES TO A FORK IN THE ROAD AT SOME POINT WHERE YOU CAN PLAY IT SAFE OR GO FOR YOUR DREAM,” VICTOR SAYS. “WE WENT FOR IT.”
The Bricks opened their first fitness club in Timonium in 1985. The first few years of owning their own business were fraught with financial challenges, and the couple attributes their eventual success to faith, a little luck and giving back.
“That energy always comes back to you,” Victor says.
Giving back has been an integral part of the Bricks’ journey.
“It’s a part of our brand, but also just what we believe,” Lynne explains. “This is our hood.”
The Bricks have been good to their hood. They have donated resources to the Lutherville-Timonium Recreation Council where Victor began his career. They give money to the church they were married in and to their alma mater. In fact, the gym in which Victor first glimpsed his future wife and business partner is now a science lab; the Bricks provided the funds for the renovation and equipment. They also established a scholarship fund.
While Victor and Lynne embark on new business and charitable ventures, daughter Vicki, a former NCAA point guard, has taken over as Brick Bodies CEO, overseeing day-to-day operations.
When asked about their philanthropic endeavors, Victor channels Steve Jobs, saying he and Lynne are striving to “put a dent in the universe.” The Bricks’ dent has been felt locally for a long time, and now the couple is turning their attention to the global issue of mental health.
The John W. Brick Foundation—named after Victor’s brother, who died from complications of schizophrenia—works to discover how exercise, diet, relationships and health care fit together to benefit the mental health of people around the world.
Victor watched his brother endure rounds of treatments, therapies and new medicines, only to succumb to his disease over and over again.
“There has to be a better way,” Victor says about the traditional methods of treating people with mental illness. “We want to help find that way.”
It’s an ambitious goal, but the Bricks have proven they excel in exceeding anyone’s expectations—including their own.
“Who would have thought a recreation director would become this serial entrepreneur,” Victor says.
But underneath the unlikely success, the numerous industry awards and accolades, the Bricks aren’t so different from who they were before.
“We’re still serving others,” Victor says. “It’s ingrained in us to give.”