Published: March 14, 2019
Spartan Grandfather Grows Incubator Business While Training for 2020 Olympics
Karlton Meadows M.S. ’16, M.S. ’18 should add professional juggler to his résumé. Though instead of juggling bowling pins or flaming torches, Meadows multitasks his way through a variety of endeavors: Olympic hopeful, entrepreneur and personal trainer, to name a few.
Meadows, of Gary, IN, retired after 20 years with the U.S. Navy and walked on to UT’s track team at 45 years old while earning his master’s in exercise and nutrition science, which he finished in 2016. The same year he won a silver medal in the USA Track and Field Outdoor Championship. He returned to the classroom in August 2017, completing a master’s in entrepreneurship by 2018.
“Now this AARP card-carrying grandpa is training for Tokyo,” he writes on his LinkedIn profile, of his goal to compete in the 800-meter distance race in the 2020 Summer Olympics.
After completing his two graduate degrees, he’s now working out of the Sykes College of Business’ Lowth Entrepreneurship Center in the Spartan Incubator, which is designed to help current students and recent alums grow their business ideas. The goal of the program is to help build the local entrepreneurial ecosystem to support the development and launch of new ventures.
Meadows’ new venture is his personal training business, B4 Fitness Engineering, which offers upgraded fitness solutions with a focus on customer service and care — “the Ritz-Carlton of personal training,” which he adopts in his signature as The Fitz Karlton. The four Bs of “B4” stand for burn fat, build muscle, boost hormones and breakthrough plateaus.
“UT’s incubator helps you apply what you learned in class,” said Meadows, who didn’t come from a corporate background and is appreciating the hands-on mentorship.
“There are intangibles they don’t advertise,” he said, primarily in the networking and friendships built among the other incubator entrepreneurs. “There’s a synergy when I’m dealing with my peers in the cohort. I’m impressed by what they’re doing. Being young at heart and aspiring to be an athlete, it helps me to stay connected to them, and I’m open to what they have to share.”
Since earning his master’s in exercise and nutrition science, Meadows has been hired by Health Fitness, which provides corporate fitness for Johnson & Johnson, among others. Within three months of being hired, he had three corporate fitness clients and was also hired by the YMCA in Riverview as a master trainer.
“I’ve been doing fitness for more than 30 years. But it was the master’s degree that made the difference,” said Meadows, who was a fitness instructor with the U.S. Navy for 14 years.
“The program opened more doors than I had anticipated,” he said. “It doesn't matter who you reach out to. It matters who introduces you, and that's what the university has done. It's the social connection and the credibility that have been huge.”
Meadows’ desire to help others achieve their physical fitness goals stems from growing up with congenital defects in his feet. At the time, all of his heroes were appearing on the Wheaties box (like then Bruce Jenner and Edwin Moses), triathletes Dave Scott and Scott Tinley were duking it out for Ironman titles and cyclist Greg LeMond was leaving his mark on the Tour de France.
“I grew up wanting to be a world-class athlete. Walking on to the track team here was a benchmark for my goal of going to the Olympics,” Meadows said. “If I can walk on to a collegiate track team under my own conditioning, make the team and then win a silver medal with fractures in both feet, scaring on both Achilles, bilateral heel spurs and a traumatized left plantar fascia, what can I do when I am well? That dream is not over until I win.”