Triangle Business Journal: Planet Fitness franchisees bring 'Zaniac,' a STEM-focused program to the Triangle

By Lauren K. Ohnesorge,

Zaniac, a Salt Lake City-based STEM education upstart, is coming to the Triangle.

Franchisees Joe Pepe and CJ Bouchard are used to seeing their investments change lives. Both men are franchisees of Planet Fitness locations in the Triangle. Pepe’s father was among the first Planet Fitness franchisees, Bouchard says he was the seventh. And they’ve watched the business swell to more than 1,200 locations.

But this time it’s intellect – not muscles – they’re trying to build.

Bouchard had a young son who had a particular love of technology. Bouchard found himself trying to download “mods” onto a computer, “trying to figure out MindCraft.”

“To have somebody who could take the time in a small group setting to really teach these young minds how to program and work within these parameters, this would be amazing,” he says. He brought the idea to Joe Pepe, a longtime colleague and fellow franchisee, and the two got pretty obsessed. They took the idea to Joe Pepe’s brother, Matt Pepe, who signed on almost instantly.

“We love the entire aspect of Planet Fitness … but to be able to get involved in the ground-level of something big like this, we wanted to to do it,” Bouchard says.

They’re quick to say it’s not a tutoring program.

“There’s a robotics class,” Joe Pepe says, adding it’s an appropriate program for everyone K-8, whether they excel at school or not. “They’re teaching critical thinking through MineCraft and computer programming,” he says. “I just think that CJ, myself and Matt, with our retail operational expertise, I think we can contribute and help ... bring it to the next level.”


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Triangle Business Journal: Planet Fitness franchisees bring 'Zaniac,' a STEM-focused program to the Triangle
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