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Top fitness company CEO suspended after he allegedly threatened to decapitate franchisee while facing federal probes: report

The nation’s largest fitness company “indefinitely” suspended its allegedly menacing CEO amid a growing number of federal investigations into possible fraud, according to multiple reports.

Xponential Fitness which has more than 3,000 boutique studios under brands such as PureBarre, Rumble and CycleBar — is under federal scrutiny over allegations that the company misled both franchisees and investors about its financial health, according to people who have spoken with the investigators.

More shockingly, XPonential boss Anthony Geisler, who founded the company in 2017 and took it public in 2021, allegedly threatened to decapitate a franchise owner during a contentious mediation session, according to a Businessweek report and confirmed by the owner to The Post.

He allegedly told the mediator to relay the following warning: that his head would be cut off and mounted on a spike with a note saying, This is what happens when you f— with Anthony Geisler, Businessweek reported.

The franchisee told The Post the mediator told him: “Anthony was very explicit about what I should tell you.”

Geisler denied making the comment, Businessweek reported.

He had first made headlines in 2009 when he challenged Chris Brown to a fight after the R&B singer allegedly assaulted his then-girlfriend Rihanna. Geisler launched a Facebook page entitled I want to fight Chris Brown.

On Friday, Geisler was suspended after the Irvine, Calif.-based company revealed that it received notice of a probe by the US Attorneys Office for the Central District of California last week.

The news came on the heels of a Dec. 5 disclosure that the company was the target of a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation. 

The investigators are focusing on how Xponential allegedly misled franchisees into agreements and then essentially trapped them, a source with knowledge of the situation told The Post.

The New York State Attorney Generals office and the Washington State Attorney Generals office have also interviewed franchisees many of whom have lost their life savings   and others with knowledge of Xponentials business practices, sources who have spoken with state and federal investigators told The Post.

The company allegedly required prospective business owners “to enter into 10-year leases with landlords and give personal guarantees and they were stuck in equipment leases that caused some of them to file for bankruptcy,” David Bovino, a lawyer representing several hundred franchisees, told The Post.

Many also learned after the fact that the buildouts of the studios took “substantially longer than they were told,” Bovino added.

One of the boutique studios, PureBarre, has more than a dozen locations in New York City.

According to an explosive report last year by short seller Fuzzy Panda Research, more than 50% of the franchise-operated studios are losing money and the company allegedly misrepresented the number of failed studios to its investors.

The report described Xponential as a house of cards and an abusive company.

Xponential did not immediately respond to The Post.

Geisler did not return calls for comment.

The Post reached out to the AGs in New York and Washington state.

The California District Attorney’s Office declined to comment.

The company named board member Brenda Morris interim CEO. She had been an Xponential director since 2019.

Geisler, 44, began his fitness empire in 2001 when he bought LA Boxing and franchised the kickboxing brand. 

He acquired other boutique fitness studio brands, eventually forming Xponential which operates 10 brands.  

Xponential franchisees said they are terrified to speak out against Geisler, according to the Business Week report. 

Hell tell you what you want to hear at the beginning, but when push comes to shove, hes real quick to be the 800-pound gorilla. Its his way or the highway, Gary Stinnett, a former CycleBar franchisee, told the publication.

Hundreds of franchisees have sought legal counsel about getting out of their deals, but their agreements with the company require them to go through mediation, Bovino said.

Mediation starts on May 29.

We are prepared to file a lawsuit if the mediation doesnt produce an acceptable resolution, said Bovino, whose firm is one of four law firms representing disgruntled franchisees.

We believe the termination of the CEO is a demonstration that the board of directors is motivated to make comprehensive reforms and make restitution and to allow the struggling franchisees to get out with Xponential assuming liabilities, Bovino said.

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