Your guide to good gym franchises | Global Franchise
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Thursday 11th August, 2022

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Your guide to good gym franchises

Insight

Your guide to good gym franchises

With the industry generating over $87.5bn worldwide alongside a global obsession with looking and feeling good, now is a great time to get into fitness franchising

With a health and wellness industry generating upward of $87.5bn worldwide, and an international obsession with looking and feeling good, the time is now to jump into the booming fitness industry.

Ever since the Greeks trained in gymnasiums to hone their skills for gladiatorial combat, our fascination with hitting fitness goals has been on the up.

There are currently over 201,000 fitness clubs worldwide, with a combined total of more than 174 million members. In a landscape that has seen merchandise franchises fluctuate in popularity, businesses that can provide a service, such as gyms, have never lost their allure. Quite the contrary: their membership is rising.

For franchisees, the prospect of being a gym owner is, unsurprisingly, appealing.

In North America, goliath brands like Anytime Fitness, Planet Fitness, UFC Gym, World Gym, Orangetheory Fitness, and Crunch Fitness dominate the choices available to individuals looking to better their health and wellness. These centers align with what a general gym-goer might associate with a health club: resistance machines, weight machines, full-body workouts, squat racks, and a wide variety of ways to achieve the ideal look. But with initial investment costs climbing to $2M+, and only around one in 10 Planet Fitness franchise locations being opened by a first-time franchisee, it can be a tough nut to crack.

Offering a potentially easier inroad to fitness franchising, boutique gyms benefit from low start-up costs and a dedicated audience, who favor a focused fitness regime. The previous sedentary population has been hit with an inexorable wave of “wellness mania”, according to Chris Rondeau, CEO of Planet Fitness; a wave that franchisors and franchisees are capitalizing on as well as they can. This doesn’t just mean big returns, though, as more gyms lead to an overall uptake in healthy living – a win-win for all involved.

Boutique gym brands are rising in popularity

The popularity of boutique gyms was proven by a recent report from the IHRSA. It found that while membership in traditional health clubs grew by five per cent between 2012-2015, members to boutique providers grew a sizeable 70 per cent in this same period – despite typical fees of $20-40 per visit. Gym-goers are customizing their fitness regime as much as they’d like, including preferring more tailored and virtual concepts, and for the right franchisee, this could spell huge success.

An interesting development to keep tabs on will be whether the public is as comfortable or motivated to work out in a group environment post-COVID. This behavior switch may see many gym franchises tweaking their franchise models, if they haven’t done so already. There are great alternative concepts that don’t require the public to convene in an indoor gym at all, with franchises like GYMGUYZ proving personal trainer services at the customer’s preferred location.

A worldwide phenomenon

Wellbeing obsession isn’t just limited to the U.S. In Australia, franchises like ZADI, which focuses on HIIT workouts, and 12RND, which offers a boutique boxing regime lasting 45 minutes, are thriving. Gymgoers need their workout to fit around a hectic schedule – hence why many big-box gym brands offer 24-hour access – but still want it to engage them and keep exercise interesting. With bespoke experiences maintaining variety, the world of fitness franchising has never been as exciting.

The U.K. is also a powerhouse for fitness progression, with hundreds of fitness providers – with large brands like easyGym, niche boutiques, and martial arts-orientated concepts like HITIO – appealing to a growing desire for choice. In 2018, fitness titan Pure Gym became the first U.K. operator to reach 200 clubs, and one in every seven people is a member of some kind of fitness club. But David Minton, director of fitness data company LeisureDB, has made it clear that simply offering the same routine as the competition might not cut it: “they [fitness providers] must continue to provide more than just gyms; experiences are essential to hold a customer’s attention.”

Gym franchises with celebrity investors

Fitness franchising has also appeared on the radar of some notable Hollywood elites. Mark Wahlberg, known for his wide filmography including the likes of The Fighter and The Departed, recently bought a minority stake in F45 Training – the wildly successful boutique training programme to emerge from Sydney, Australia. The deal, roughly valued at $450M, will allow the 45-minute fitness regime to expand even faster than before. And that’s no small feat: F45 Training currently sells roughly 50 franchises a month, which the company hopes to increase to 70-80 per month by the end of 2019.

We haven’t yet touched on Asia, which boasts over 2.8 billion of the world’s population, and a vast market for boutique fitness franchises to sell to. Popular wellness figures like Manny Pacquiao mean that the Philippines is the ideal location for a boutique boxing franchise, whereas the ageing population of Japan makes it perfect for something with a more relaxed pace. Singapore is arguably saturated when it comes to the fitness business, whereas China and its 300 million middle-class consumers are a major target for bankable fitness franchises.

With Asia – and any foreign market – adapting a franchise to fit the local customs and expectations is a must. In our recent special on fitness franchises in South East Asia, Bill Edwards, CEO of Edwards Global Services, advised, “probably the number one adaptation is a focus on social media marketing, especially Facebook.” He also warned, “Asian consumers like to try new and innovative concepts but also tend to move on to newer ones when they enter a country. Beware of being considered a fad.” Boutique fitness franchises might not work as successfully in Beijing as Budapest or vice versa, but the demand for their unique take on the fitness world is a proven gateway to franchisee success.

Anyone involved in global franchising will tell you that a franchise that has proven successful in Maryland won’t necessarily succeed in Malaysia. Food franchisors found out early that tastes can vary widely, and while a concept itself may be welcomed at an overseas destination, some changes are often necessary to the menu if the brand is to have a long-term future in the area.

You may reason that fitness centers will be exempt from this rule; what can be so different about body toning? It’s true that the adjustments in this field may not be as radical as those you may make in other sectors, but as ever be aware of cultural differences. Where people may prefer to exercise on their own back home, there are parts of Asia where the group is the important unit.

An increasing number of Western franchises are successfully tailoring their concepts to local demand and the future of franchise gyms in the East looks strong indeed.

Best gym franchises to invest in

1. Curves: fitness and safety for women

Established over 25 years ago, Curves is a proven business model designed especially for women, offering a safe service environment to help members achieve their goals. Curves empowers women to transform their lives through regular 30-minute, full-body strength training circuits, working all the major muscle groups.

Curves franchisees have the opportunity to run a business and be a pillar of healthy living and change for the community. Curves’ exclusive operating system model provides gym franchise owners with a total business solution. This is an exciting franchise opportunity for investors wishing to tap into the demand for keep-fit environments designed exclusively for women.

2. Gravity UK: fitness meets fun

Nothing has injected fun into fitness like the trampoline park, and for park operators, that’s not a hard sell. In these days of retail uncertainty, trampoline parks can provide an answer for the high street, one which has high returns and offers a sustainable business model.

Successful fitness concepts keep things fresh by offering new equipment on a regular basis, maintaining levels of interest and enthusiasm and encouraging new members when word of mouth spreads the news of a novel or useful addition. Among the ways Gravity UK keeps customers coming back are its inclusion of such extras as inflatable obstacle courses, street golf, ‘Clip and Climb’ and a tower jump.

Master franchisees and investors with Gravity UK get a dedicated exclusive territory to promote and maximize, meaning they won’t be competing with another Gravity UK franchise in this area. As a master franchisee, you will be your own boss, and enjoy complete control of your own business empire. The master franchisee will continuously sell franchises and build their own sites, fully supporting their franchisees in the process. Not only can being a master franchisee be very profitable for you, but you will also be an influential part of your franchise’s network.

3. Snap Fitness: putting franchisees first

The Snap Fitness franchise business plan focuses on franchisees first. When you sign the Franchise Agreement with Snap Fitness you are provided with a corporate team that offers support for all aspects of starting a new business. This includes a real estate team that analyzes your market to determine the best location options for a gym, a design team focused on customizing your gym, a full-service marketing team that offers all necessary marketing materials, tech support, staff training, hiring assistance, and a brand performance specialist that provides ongoing support regarding the daily operations of your club.

Snap Fitness CEO, Peter Taunton, founded the Snap Fitness franchise in 2004 headquartered out of Chanhassen, Minnesota. The concept now operates 1,367 outlets in 26 countries. Snap Fitness specializes in smaller fitness gyms in comparison to big box gyms, and a business model that is designed to provide convenience and a variety of fitness options.

Snap Fitness locations are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and feature personal training, functional fitness training, daily high-intensity workouts, cardio machines, heart rate training powered by Myzone, regular fitness challenges, and more.

4. F45 Training: taking on the world

F45 Training is a global fitness training community specializing in innovative, high-intensity group workouts which are fast, fun, and proven to get rapid results for members. Adored by celebrities and athletes alike, F45 training’s commitment to innovation goes well beyond the gym floor. Founded by Rob Deutsch, in just four short years, F45 Training, which originated in Australia, now has over 1,300 franchises in 36 countries. It’s now firmly set on further expansion in the U.S., Canada, Europe and Asia.

Designed by Sport Scientists and Elite Athletes, F45’s unique team-based high-intensity interval training (HIIT) 45-minute workouts include an array of interval stations and feature 27 distinct workout systems that incorporate more than 3,500 exercises, ensuring the highest level of variation for clients; they’ll never do the same workout twice.

The rapid growth of F45 Training is an indication that there’s demand in the market for this unique fitness franchise. F45 fills the gap between a traditional gym where people pay a small membership fee to go and do their own thing, and a personal training session, which can be expensive.

People are time-poor, but they still want to have a great workout with support and encouragement from a fitness professional. This is F45 Training’s point of difference. When you enter an F45 studio you get instant access to a dynamic and supportive team environment, led by world-class coaches who motivate and challenge members in each session.

5. Blink Fitness: invest in a trail-blazing brand

Blink Fitness is a burgeoning fitness brand in the States, with over 140 Blink locations open or in development throughout New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Michigan, California, Illinois, Florida, Virginia, Massachusetts and Texas.

According to the brand, the average unit performance of a Blink Fitness gym sits at $1.94m, and the average membership is 6,305 gym-goers. The development cost for a new franchise site varies from $607,000 to $2.2m, with an initial franchise fee of $10,000.

How to: own your own Gold’s Gym franchise

For over 50 years, global gym brand Gold’s Gym has been a famous name at the forefront of the fitness franchise industry. And the company that pioneered the industry from its first franchise unit in the United States in 1965 is now redefining it with personalization and innovation on a global scale.

Beloved by fitness superstars like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Gold’s Gym has gladly been a part of millions of members’ fitness journeys – more than three million members around the world, to be exact. The brand now has over 700 gyms in 28 countries on six continents, including two of the largest Gold’s Gyms ever built – in Amman, Jordan and Alexandria, Egypt. And today, the iconic brand is looking fitter than ever.

Don’t just own Gold’s Gym apparel; own a gym itself

Despite Gold’s Gym filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in May 2020 due to the financial impact of COVID-19, the brand remains a leader in fitness in an $84 billion-dollar global gym industry. Now owned by European fitness giant RSG Group GmbH, the brand heads into 2021 on a quest to take its enthusiasm and passion for fitness to millions more, including growth into Europe and China.

As Gold’s Gym reaches new markets, franchisees monitor their success not just by the return on investment but also by benefiting personally from the distinct silver lining of Gold’s mission: sharing healthier choices and lifestyles.

Why you should partner with Gold’s Gym

For investors looking for a business with not only brand recognition but also a sense of purpose with a positive impact, Gold’s Gym has a proven formula to offer potential business partners. Multiple markets are still available worldwide, and international expansion comes with choosing skilled master franchisees who can champion the brand in countries around the world.

Master franchisees must have experience in growing multiple locations with their own company or as a franchisee with another brand in another country. Gold’s Gym carefully vets all potential master franchisees to increase the probability of franchise success.

Each new country being considered for Gold’s Gym expansion is carefully researched. Whether to consolidate prospective markets under one master franchisee or to divide areas into several territories is part of the initial process on the way to successfully opening new locations.

In exchange for your investment and monthly royalty fee, Gold’s Gym also offers the potential for a strong return on investment with market-leading, best-in-class service, a respected and well-known brand, a proven track record for growth over five decades, innovation in the industry and a knack for responding to members’ requests for new products and services.

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