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Franchisees’ passion for fun fuels growth

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Franchisees’ passion for fun fuels growth

Selena and Lusiano Afeaki, inspired by the strength of Crunch Fitness, stand strong in their quest to help people ‘perspire to greatness’

No judgments. This is the motto that franchisee husband-and-wife team Selena and Lusiano Afeaki live by. They make no judgments of people, believing everyone is created for greatness – anyone, anyway, anyhow. It was fortuitous that the couple was introduced to the global fitness brand Crunch Fitness, whose motto is also ‘no judgments’. With a successful combined 49 years of experience in running gyms throughout Australia and Asia, the pair lead the Australian and New Zealand Crunch franchisees, and they can’t imagine their lives without their Crunch family.

“Crunch chose us,” says Selena. “It’s a big personality brand with a fun offering. We approach life with a great sense of humor, and through Crunch, we get to apply this every day by making fitness fun.”

Selena and Lusiano believe that fitness should be enjoyed, not endured. This mantra drives their determination to keep growing because they believe that everyone deserves a Crunch.

Where it all started

Selena and Lusiano started in the fitness industry in 1998 when they worked with 24 Hour Fitness in Asia. Selena was the head of marketing and Lusiano worked in club management, and this is where they caught the fitness bug and discovered the immense power that fitness had in changing people’s lives.

When they moved to Australia in 2006, the pair quickly realized that an exercise experience should include a few vital ingredients: flexible, all-inclusive, fun-fuelled offerings, and a different concept where members would be encouraged, empowered and entertained. Nothing like that existed in Australia.

The pair have grown several franchise businesses in Australia including UFC Gym, which was the first international mega gym for the brand, Hard Candy Fitness with the Madonna brand, and V Club in Australia, which was voted the best gym in Sydney for five years in a row. Despite their success at each of their gyms, they decided to convert them all to Crunch branches and added even more to their portfolio. They just knew that the Australian market would love Crunch, and they weren’t wrong.

The best brand

Crunch, which is headquartered in New York City and serves over 2,000,000 members globally with over 400 gyms worldwide, has been the perfect partner for Selena and Lusiano. They were first introduced to the franchise in 2010, and there are now 17 Crunch clubs in Australia. The resilience of the brand was emphasized during the extended covid lockdowns, as three clubs have been opened over the last three years. This confidence in the brand has excited Selena and Lusiano, who are now setting their sights on a more aggressive growth plan.

“What we have loved most about the Crunch brand is that it’s a proven business model across multi-markets and it is supported by fitness pioneers we absolutely respect,” Selena says. “But we’ve got more than just buying into a franchise – we inherited a whole Crunch family.”

Despite being in the industry for so long, Crunch is continuously evolving its systems and procedures to improve its business offering. Selena and Lusiano recognize the importance of having a franchisor that constantly adjusts and evolves to meet the needs of both franchisees and members, and the pair get to benefit from the company’s wisdom and experience.

Crunch is not only a fabulous fitness offering – it is an incredible platform to attract passionate and positive people into the industry, and Selena and Lusiano value their people the most. The Crunch brand is relatable, with good values, and people are attracted to be a part of the ‘No Judgments’ movement. Crunch can take any person with a passion to help people through fitness, put them through unique training systems, and progress them through successful careers in fitness.

Progressive development

Selena and Lusiano have retained dozens of staff members who have been with them from the start. “This has to be the greatest joy, watching people grow,” Lusiano says. “Whether they’re instructing classes, personal training, serving on the front line, managing a club or taking on an administrative role in the home office – we have seen so many thrive and grow through the Crunch network.”

Evolution and adaptation have been high on the priority list for Crunch over the past few years. Inspired by multiple global lockdowns, Crunch grew through Covid and in 2021 it was the only global fitness company that grew its customer base by 5.6 per cent. Selena attributes this growth to the consumers’ increased awareness and the importance that customers now place on their own personal health and wellness. Crunch was perfectly placed to meet their needs by offering simple, all-inclusive, affordable, and fun fitness. “Crunch became members’ new happy place,” Lusiano explains.

When assessing business opportunities, the market of people who are more aware of their health and wellness perfectly marries the ambitious growth plans of the Crunch network. The increasing demand for fitness and wellness to be under one roof places Crunch in a prime position for growing its global franchise network.

Global trendsetters

On a global level, Crunch franchisors have been working on new marketing campaigns and developing product and service offerings that create the best in-club experiences for members’ changing needs.

“Our marketing campaigns are always on point and highly effective. The new Go Crunch Mode campaign is entertaining and engaging,” Selena says. “Another exciting innovation is the launch of Crunch+, which is a new online action offering live access to Crunch’s world-famous classes from anywhere.”

Lusiano adds: “Crunch doesn’t follow the trends, it sets the trends, and as a franchisee we get quick access to roll these out in our markets, staying ahead of our competitors and giving our members exactly what they need.”

The franchise support that Crunch offers is comprehensive and sophisticated. Selena and Lusiano, along with their management teams, have benefited from an easy-to-use franchisee portal which includes everything you need to know about location, club development, equipment, club operations, sales and marketing, HR and training, personal training, classes, financials, and everything in between.

Community practice

With years of experience in the industry, Selena and Lusiano truly value the impact of the Crunch support team. Crunch has high staff retention at the franchisor level, enabling the company to build long-standing and trustworthy relationships.

Though the relationships between franchisee and franchisor are strong, it’s the relationship between fellow franchisees that empowers Selena and Lusiano in their pursuit for growth for the Crunch community. The global Crunch family meets once a year at a Crunch franchising conference to meet and collaborate.

“Some of my good friends are other Crunch franchisees that I have met over the years,” Selena says. “Crunch management encourages us to collaborate with franchisees who we can all learn from to help grow our own markets. Being part of a global network of Crunch Warriors, as I like to call them, who are all carrying the brand in their own markets and making a difference, really fuels us for greatness in Australia. It’s evident that the Crunch Family consists of like-minded people who all strive for greatness. Being part of this network has been life-changing for us.”

A philosophy of growth

Others inspired by Selena’s story and fast growth often ask her how she did it. Not afraid to share her tips and tricks for growth, Selena always brings it back to the philosophy and support of the franchisor in the process and pursuit of mutual growth and success. Selena can attribute the success of Crunch in Australia to these values:

  • Evolution – the company has a strong brand that is ever-evolving to meet the needs of the consumer
  • Support – franchisees receive unwavering support from the franchisors and franchisees through communication and collaboration
  • Offering – in a world where people now prioritize health and wellness, Crunch is simple and easy to implement into members’ lives. It’s effective, affordable and fun
  • Attitude – Crunch attracts positive growth through its ‘no judgments’ philosophy which encourages inclusion and camaraderie

As their Crunch journey continues, Selena and Lusiano are encouraged by the resilience of the brand to withstand and grow through adversity. They are focusing on growing their locations in Australia and in new markets like New Zealand, and they look forward to collaborating with their Crunch family at the upcoming conference in the U.S.A. in July this year.

“The Crunch brand is more relevant and powerful than ever, and with the uncompromising support that the franchisors give us, we know that the best is yet to come,” Selena says.

At a glance

Year Established: 1989
Number of franchised outlets: 425
Location of units: 37 in the U.S. and 6 countries: U.S., Canada, Australia, Spain, Portugal, Costa Rica
Investment range: $2,000,000 – $4,000,0000
Minimum required capital: $5,000,000 net worth, $500,000 liquid

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