Closeup of weightlift workout at the gym with barbell. Man wearing sportswear clothes.

When it comes to fitness, sports, and recreation, choosing the franchise route can eliminate a lot of the challenges that come with opening a fitness business. Opening a private gym requires time, money, and a lot of prior knowledge in order for a new business owner to find success in the industry. Nevertheless, fitness is among the quickest growing industries in franchising. Different forms of fitness have emerged and are taking the floor in this industry, which fitness franchises have developed even further.

Fitness brings in the bucks.

Popular fitness franchises such as Planet Fitness, Gold’s Gym and Barry’s Bootcamp have certainly proven that franchising can bring much success to a fitness business. According to Statista, the global fitness and health club industry brings in about $80 billion each year, a significant portion of which is attributed to the US. With about $25.8 billion being generated from the industry in the US alone, the country ranks as the single biggest market worldwide in revenue and number of health and fitness club members. In 2015, it was found that 36 thousand fitness clubs existed in the US of 186 thousand clubs worldwide.

Fitness is becoming customized.

Just as is observed within the food industry, fitness is also taking on a customizable, personalized nature. With technology growing, more and more fitness clubs are seeking to tailor fitness experiences at the individual level. Many franchises advertise personal training programs that begin with a body analysis process. Once this process is complete, personal trainers in the franchise create customized programs. Today, these programs go beyond the workout routine. Often, trainers provide meal plans and sleep schedule recommendations. Essentially, the industry is beginning to create a whole personal experience. Members don’t simply “go to the gym,” any longer but rather, fitness franchises promise a full experience and lifestyle change.

More than ever, data has become the force driving fitness franchising. Throughout the past several years, health and wellness trends have geared towards health optimization. Much of this optimization has circled around an improvement of the metabolic rate (how the body burns calories even after the workout is over). With health material becoming easily accessible for the average person, gym-goers, too, have become aware of these trends, which has led to the rise of several fitness franchises.

Franchises like Barry’s Bootcamp or Fit36 combine high intensity interval training with strength training to target and improve the metabolic rate. Ned Matheson, founder of Fit36 and former firefighter, told PR Newswire that he wanted to give clients a unique mix of exercises that other fitness programs fail to include. Not to mention, their one of a kind program is only 36 minutes long but successfully revs up the metabolism.

“The efficiency of the concept (is a big influencer),” Matheson told PR Newswire. “What’s the biggest excuse? Not enough time? Well, we’ve taken that out of the equation and you still burn more calories than you would one to two hours in a gym. Circuit training ensures great results and they were very well-thought out circuits.”

This form of high intensity exercise for short periods of time has grown popular cross the fitness franchise industry. Other franchises such as F45 Training have taken a similar approach, applying health and wellness data to elevate their training programs. Similarly, Koko Fitclub, has combined fitness and technology to give clients a totally personalized experience. As more research is released, fitness franchises are moving away from the idea that one regimen or exercise plan fits all clients. Instead rather, the industry has begun to promote fitness at the individual level.

Gyms are opening co-working spaces.

Gyms have begun to open work spaces in their facilities. Although this isn’t one of the more common trends in the industry, gym coworking spaces are definitely on the rise and will continue along this trajectory.

This trend arose due to the lack of clients or members throughout the middle of the day. By opening work spaces, gyms become a location that freelancers, or other self-employed individuals, can utilize throughout the day. Many freelancers already pay for a coworking space and a gym membership, so why not get two in one?

Not to mention, fitness franchises are beginning to shift their overall dialogue surrounding fitness. Rather than solely promoting athletics and fitness, many of these establishments have taken a more holistic approach, praising overall healthy lifestyles. By providing office spaces, facilities can express their desire to fulfill all their members’ needs.

A similar approach is trending with gym daycare programs. Several years ago, only high-end fitness clubs offered daycare programs for members’ children. Today, more and more fitness franchises have implemented some sort of child care program to encourage more parents to pursue their membership service. Childcare is becoming less and less of an obstacle keeping parents away from the gym.

Keeping clients is profitable.

Membership renewal is how fitness franchises stay in business and prove successful. Also, according to Invesp, it costs fives times as much to find a new customer, rather than renew an existing one. Building a loyal relationship with preexisting clients is the key to a long term successful fitness franchise.

Why Some Clients Don’t Renew (Source: Statista)

Data has allowed fitness businesses to analyze what aspects and programs their clients enjoy or dislike, helping the club or gym create a comfortable and welcoming environment. In line with current trends in the fitness world, data allows the business to also personalize the gym-going experience.

Fitness franchises have also begun to specialize in order to appeal to clients. Franchises like Orangetheory Fitness have created specialized exercise programs with the objective of creating a unique, fun form of exercise. Many fitness clubs have also begun to offer unique classes in an effort to keep clients. Exercises like boxing and Muay Thai have grown in popularity in recent years, which many businesses have decided to use to their advantage.

Is the Industry Right for You?

Anyone with a passion for fitness can benefit from a fitness franchise. Opening a private or independent gym is no small task. If you don’t have prior experience owning your own facility, this can be a near impossible task. For this reason, many prefer to go the franchise route. Not only do franchisors provide you with a pre-established business plan, marketing plan, trademark, and operational system but the challenge of finding appropriate vendors and locations is simplified. With accompanied training programs and instructional manuals, fitness franchises make the process as easy as cake–but only after the workout!

Callens Capital


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