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Monday to Friday

Goldsmith Hall,

New York, NY 90210

1800 234 567

fitness franchises

A day in the life of the Crunch Fitness Franchise CEO, who wakes up by 5 a.m. to work out, never skips cardio, and eats the same thing for lunch every day

September 1, 2018
  • Crunch Fitness Franchise CEO Ben Midgley gave Business Insider an inside look at his daily routine.
  • He wakes up early to exercise in his home gym and never skips stretching or cardio.
  • At night, Midgley turns his phone off and spends quality time with his family.
  • He often drinks a glass of milk with honey to wind down. 

Crunch Fitness Franchise CEO Ben Midgley doesn’t just work in the fitness world.

He lives there too, kicking off every day with an intense gym session and fueling up on a nutritional lunch during the workday.

Midgley, who has been CEO of Crunch Franchise since 2010 and previously worked at 24-Hour Fitness and Planet Fitness, broke down his daily routine for Business Insider.

Here’s a look inside the CEO’s daily schedule:

Midgley wakes up between 4:30 and 5 a.m. every day.

Midgley wakes up between 4:30 and 5 a.m. every day.

Midgley’s alarm clock.Crunch Franchise

Midgley wakes up bright and early, usually between 4:30 and 5 a.m. And naturally, the fitness-franchise CEO starts his day with a workout, heading to his basement to exercise for about an hour.

Stretching is a key part of his workout.

Stretching is a key part of his workout.

Midgley’s home gym.Crunch Franchise

The home gym features six cardio machines, stretching mats, and “all your traditional weightlifting equipment,” Midgley told Business Insider.

“I’m pretty much a standard weightlifting-and-cardio guy,” he said.

To start, Midgley uses foam rollers as part of a comprehensive stretching exercise.

“I never used to stretch when I was younger,” he said. “But I’ve got to do a full stretching routine every day.”

Along with cardio, stretching is something he never skips during a workout, he said.

When it comes to exercise, Midgley considers himself a “balanced guy.”

Midgley said he typically focuses on working out a different body part each day of the week, though sometimes he’ll squeeze in two leg days.

As for his favorite workout routines, he said he likes to mix things up.

“I’m a balanced guy,” Midgley said. “I don’t favor anything. You’ve got to work everything.”

Midgley usually watches CNBC as he runs.

“The workout’s a nice outlet,” Midgley said. “You put your tunes on. Then, as soon as I hit the cardio, I generally just put on CNBC.”

After wrapping things up in the gym, the CEO either brings his three kids to school or takes a break to have breakfast and read The Wall Street Journal around 6:15 a.m.

“I’ll usually have coffee, read The Journal, and then go check emails right off the bat to get that over with,” he said.

He arrives at work between 8 and 9 a.m.

He arrives at work between 8 and 9 a.m.

Midgley’s “Crunchmobile.”Crunch Franchise

Midgley usually arrives at Crunch Franchise’s headquarters in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, between 8 and 9 a.m. He said he kicks things off by checking the sales stats at Crunch Fitness’ various franchise locations across the US.

“I get my daily stat report, and I click through every club to see if there’s anything that needs to be paid attention to,” he said.

The CEO said he keeps an eye out for best practices.

The CEO said he keeps an eye out for best practices.

Crunch Franchise’s headquarters.Crunch Franchise

During this morning analysis, Midgley strives to identify things like superb sales-based techniques, great member events, or cost-slashing club-building strategies, he said.

He said that typically Crunch Fitness opens five to seven clubs a month, but things are slower in the summertime.

According to Midgley, his team is “constantly trying to disseminate the best information.”

“What we do is we look for the best practices that are going on in the business,” he said.

Midgley said much of his day revolves around prioritizing.

Midgley said he spends a lot of time “dealing with things that pop up” throughout the workday.

He said that it’s sometimes tricky to separate high-priority tasks from less important matters, but it’s still important to prioritize.

“For me, as long as I’ve been the CEO, I’ve found that you can only plan out so much of your day,” he said. “The trick is not getting distracted.”

Up next, Midgley meets with various teams.

Once he’s finished with the stats, he’ll meet with different Crunch Franchise departments. Depending on the day, he might sit down with team members handling real estate, construction, development, finance, sales, or marketing.

“One way or another we’re going to connect over the course of the day, whether it’s a formalized meeting or just checking up on different aspects of the business,” he said.

But not every day is an office day for Midgley.

Midgley doesn’t always run things from the office — he also spends time traveling around the country to visit various Crunch Fitness franchises.

Midgley said the gym is “pushing 300 locations right now.”

Midgley doesn’t spend all day cooped up inside.

Midgley doesn't spend all day cooped up inside.

The view from Midgley’s office.Crunch Franchise

“I definitely try to get out of the office,” Midgley said.

He said his office looks out at Portsmouth’s “beautiful bay.” He’ll often take a stroll along the waterfront toward the middle of the day.

“It’s gorgeous,” Midgley said. “I’ll head out for lunch, walk around, or just get a coffee or something like that. Just to clear my head for 15 minutes.”

Otherwise, Midgley might stop by Crunch Franchise’s putting green to try his hand at some office golf.

“We’ve got a scoreboard on the wall that shows how many times someone’s won a match against somebody else,” he said.

Midgley added that he was “doing OK” in the rankings so far.

He eats the same thing for lunch every day.

He eats the same thing for lunch every day.

Portsmouth, New Hampshire.Crunch Franchise

When it comes to lunch options, Midgley likes to keep things simple.

“I eat almost the same stuff every day,” he said. “It’s pretty boring. I’ll go three months in a row eating some sort of mixed greens with chicken and low-fat dressing. I’ll just throw them in the Tupperware and bring it to work.”

Midgley called his repetitive lunch habits “boring and horrible,” adding that he could certainly be more creative.

But for the fitness CEO, it’s mostly about having a nutritional balance than anything else.

“I’ve been in the fitness industry for a long time now,” he said. “Food is usually just nutrition to me.”

The CEO has a few strategies for managing his team.

The CEO has a few strategies for managing his team.

Crunch Franchise’s headquarters.Crunch Franchise

Midgley said he strives to be a hands-off boss.

“People don’t want to feel like you’re managing their day-to-day productivity,” he said. “They need to know that you trust them to do what they’re doing, and they’ll keep you informed if something comes up.”

Midgley said that trusting your employees is important.

“I think if you’re running the business well enough, most things are going to handle themselves or the people on your team are going to take care of it,” Midgley said. “In this role, you just need to be aware that everybody’s going to be doing everything that they should. If you hire the right people, that’s probably going to be the case.”

The CEO said he has a “tight team” at Crunch Franchise.

He said his team at Crunch Franchise has had an incredibly low turnover rate, with only about three people leaving within eight years.

“Once you get that kind of a team, it honestly makes the rest of what you do a lot easier,” Midgley said.

What’s more, Midgley said, it’s helpful for leaders to keep things in perspective.

“You’ve got to get into the mindset that nothing’s that big of a deal,” Midgley said.

He clarified that keeping things in perspective isn’t the same as downplaying important or negative situations, but about managing how you internalize things as a leader.

“Living with an elevated blood pressure or tension level or stress level — it wears you down physically more than you know,” Midgley said. “It’s really important to have outlets.”

He added: “If you get some shocking news about something that happened in the business — and hopefully you’re not in a business where that happens too often — you’ve got to be able to take whatever that is and just say, ‘That’s fine, we’ll handle that, we’ll work with that.'”

The CEO stops checking his phone at 8 p.m.

The CEO stops checking his phone at 8 p.m.

The Midgley family.Crunch Franchise

Midgley said he’s usually out of the office by 6:30 p.m. at the latest. Then again, sometimes work spills over.

“In my role, you’re pretty much working all the time, no matter where you are,” he said. “You always have your email or you’re getting phone calls. It’s harder not to work than it is to work.”

At the same time, Midgley added, “I’m not that kind of a guy where I’m like, ‘Oh my gosh, I’ve got to show people I’m on my email at 2 o’clock in the morning.'”

So the CEO said he strives to prioritize family time when he’s not at work. Midgley, his wife, and their three children will typically go out to eat together at least once a week.

“We’ll try to eat dinner together if I’m home early enough during the week,” he said. “For me, it’s family first, and then work.”

His major rule of the evening is that he switches off his phone at 8 p.m. during the week. Midgley said that spending time with his kids — reading stories, going over homework, or just hanging out on the couch — is his priority.

“I’m not going to have them at home forever,” he said.

Midgley said he doesn’t short himself on sleep.

Midgley said he tends to turn in by 9 p.m. — no surprise, given his early wake-up.

“I don’t short myself on sleep,” he said.

He also shared what he called an “embarrassing” trick for falling asleep easily.

“On the nights where I don’t have a glass of wine, if it’s not hot out, I’ll have warm milk and honey,” he said. “It puts me to sleep. Otherwise your brain is just thinking of so many different things.”

Source: Business Insider UK

Energie Fitness targets Scottish expansion

July 16, 2018

Energie Fitness has over 140,000 members and enjoys more than 1,800,000 visits per year, meaning it is well established as the market-leader in the exploding low-cost gym franchise market.

Energie Fitness is different from your other low-cost gyms, as it is places a huge focus on customer service. This is the whole ethos of the business; provide an affordable and personal service to all customers ensuring they enjoy their experience and want to come back. All Energie Fitness gyms are constantly manned by well-trained staff, whether that’s a warm welcome from your gym host or from one of the many highly trained staff who are always on-hand to assist with a workout. Energie is also focused on giving members choices, ranging from the type of class they want to do or the kind of membership that suits them.  Energie Fitness was one of the first in the UK to introduce the low-cost, no contract concept and it has proven to be a winning combination.

Over 14% of the UK’s population is a gym member, with this number going up all the time. Over 25% of young people are now members of gyms, primarily down to improved education about the importance of staying fit. As a result the gym market is one of the fastest growing markets in the UK, particularly in the franchise sector.

Matt Roberts, the managing director of Energie Fitness Scotland,explains why he believes it is the perfect time to invest in an Energy Fitness franchise north of the border.

“At Energie fitness we know what we are and we know what we want to achieve. We are a market leader in gym franchising, both in terms of members and in terms of service. The success we have achieved is purely down to our business model; we make gym membership affordable but also give people top quality customer service ensuring they enjoy their experience and want to come back.

“How do we do this? Basically we listen to what our members want and give them choice. People want a gym constantly manned, where they are welcomed by a friendly face who can assist them if needed. Gym-goers want assistance from well-trained staff who can give them tips, encouragement and ensure they get the most out of that short window they have set aside to workout. Members also want well-run fitness classes at convenient times and want enough of them that they do not have to put their name down weeks in advance. On top of this we have a multi-tier membership which means they do not have to pay for services they do not use. Choice and innovation is key, other low-cost gyms simply don’t provide this level of service.

“The statistics tell us that gym membership is increasing all the time, among all age groups especially young people. As a result, as these people get older the number gym members can only go up. So combine the exploding demand with the unparalleled level of service we provide and I am convinced this is the perfect time to invest in an Energie Fitness franchise.”

Energie Fitness Scotland are looking for franchisees who have an ambition to succeed, but don’t necessarily need to have a gym or franchise background. Potential franchisees need to have a real drive to be their own boss and have the right attitude and commitment to push the business forward. The support franchisees receive is unparalleled, with a dedicated highly-skilled and experienced team based in Scotland on hand to support franchisees throughout the franchise process and beyond. New franchisees will receive full in-house training and shadow training, in areas including sales, customer service, leadership, fitness, marketing and IT, only when they tick every box will they be allowed to open. Franchisees will be given full assistance to find premises in suitable high footfall locations and will be able to take advantage of Energie’s excellent commercial contacts throughout Scotland.

Roberts adds: “We won’t be offering this opportunity to just anybody, it is essential that we find the right people who share our vision, commitment and drive for betterment. Our whole business is centred around excellent customer service and this has to continue. For the right person this is a great opportunity to create a successful high-demand business with huge potential.

Energie Fitness is looking for both individual franchisees who may be looking to open a business as a lifestyle choice, or multi-site franchisees who have the vision to open a chain of gyms. Potential franchisees must have minimum liquid cash of between £95,000 to £125,000.

Source: SBNN

Anytime Fitness expansion plans for seven continents

June 5, 2018

Anytime Fitness, the fast-growing fitness club franchise, is continuing its international expansion by opening the 4,000th outlet in Shanghai, China.

Furthermore, the company is pursuing plans to open 75 clubs in Morocco over the next 10 years and open at least one gym in Antarctica, which Anytime Fitness says would make it the first franchise in history with locations on all seven continents.

Chuck Runyon, chief executive and co-founder of Anytime Fitness, said: “Our mission is to ‘Improve the self-esteem of the world.’ It may sound like an audacious goal, but we’re very serious about it – 4,000 clubs open in more than 30 countries on all seven continents. Each of those clubs supports a small community of like-minded individuals who are determined to enjoy healthier, happier and more active lifestyles.”

Founded in in the U.S. in 2002, Anytime Fitness opened its first UK outlet in Bristol in 2010 and now has over 140 clubs in the UK, and is aiming to reach 400 by the end of 2020.

Stuart Broster, the UK chief executive said: “Anytime Fitness has always focused on convenience, affordability and a friendly, supportive atmosphere. That will never change and we continually work with our franchisees to expand our programming and benefits for members.”

Attractive proposition
“Owning a fitness club is becoming an increasingly attractive proposition for entrepreneurs in the UK and we’re confident of meeting our objective of being the largest fitness club provider in the UK.”

Anytime Fitness clubs are open 24-hours-a-day, 365 days a year offering members a convenient fitness option and a friendly, personal service with top-quality exercise equipment. By joining one of its gyms members are able to access all the clubs.

With Runyon’s goal to be operating across seven continents, he enthusiastically adds: “We’ve already begun exploring options for Antarctica. It’s going to happen, and sooner than you might think.”

Source: Franchise World

Fitness Franchises in the UK – Should You Buy a Gym Franchise?

May 15, 2018

Here’s what goes into the making of successful Fitness Franchises.

Franchising – a novelty not too long ago – has really come of age in the last few years. From being a mere cost-cutting tactic for retail businesses to being one of the most widely employed business models, this growth has, in its wake, created an industry in itself – an industry that generates billions of pounds in revenue, employs hundreds of thousands of people and helps unlock the entrepreneurial potential of hardworking individuals. It’s no wonder then that the future of franchising in the UK looks very promising.

While there are dozens of business sectors that offer attractive franchising opportunities, the fitness sector has consistently been one of the most popular franchise businesses in the UK. In this post, we will try to overview how gym franchises work, what makes them so popular and what you should know before you decide to jump on board.

The Demand – It’s Certainly There!

The seemingly simple interplay between supply and demand is what allows businesses to become and stay profitable. The most prominent sign of affirmation for fitness franchises in the UK comes in the form of an obvious level of demand.

Some key numbers, as published in the 2017 State of the UK Fitness Industry Report, tell us that:

  • The total number of gym memberships in the UK stands at 7 million, more than half of which are active.
  • The total revenue generated by 6,000+ fitness facilities in the UK is at an all-time high – £4.7 billion.
  • The market penetration, despite the huge turnover, still remains at around 15%, indicating positive conditions for rapid growth.
  • The overall spending by UK gymgoers saw an increase by 44% from 2016 to 2017.

In times when one in four adults in the UK is obese, making us the most obese country in Western Europe, the need for more gyms and fitness clubs is more acute than ever. What’s more encouraging, however, is the fact that more and more people are waking up to the hazards of unhealthy lifestyle, suggesting a great period of growth for fitness franchises.

Also Read: Our series of free franchising guides for UK franchises.

How Much Does It Cost?

It all depends on the kind of franchise you are looking to buy. If you are going after a well-established and popular brand, you will certainly need to spend a lot of money to not only buy the franchise but also to operate it.

Most fitness franchises in the UK operate in the ‘mid-level’ range when it comes to upfront fees and deposits. A franchise unit for a fairly popular gym franchise will typically cost upwards of £25,000 in Franchise Fees. You can find some really low-cost fitness franchise opportunities too, but the perks and business prospects that come with these are usually limited in scope.

This doesn’t always reflect some significant costs such as the rent for the location, equipment, staff salaries and other operational costs. As a part of operating a service-oriented franchise, you will also need to spend more money to insure your franchise against mishaps and other unfortunate possibilities.

All things considered, it’s safe to say that you will need an initial investment of £100,000 or more to get a new fitness franchise up and running. When you buy a fitness franchise from an established franchisor, you usually get an all-inclusive package with the help of which your franchise can become operational right away.

Costs to Consider

  • Franchise licensing fees
  • Equipment
  • Marketing
  • Rent
  • Staff salaries
  • Utilities
  • Insurance
  • Recurring royalties to the franchisor
  • Customer service
  • Other operating expenses

How Do Fitness Franchises Really Make Money?

The most sizeable share of the revenue that fitness franchises generate comes through regular memberships. As we have already seen, the number of people looking to buy new gym memberships is on the rise in the UK, meaning that you – as a prospective fitness franchise owner – have a lot of potential business opportunities to make the most of.

The gym membership fees are decided in advance by the franchisor, with franchisees getting little to no say in the matter. Reflecting the brand value, market demand, facilities provided and of course, the location, these fees can range from £15 per month for a no-frills, basic membership to £100+ for an exclusive membership in a state-of-the-art fitness club complete with a sauna, a swimming pool, an eatery and other facilities.

It’s worth noting here that fitness clubs and gyms have to continually grapple with poor customer retention. It’s a well-known fact that new users – not just in the UK, but around the world –  tend to drop the idea of working out within a matter of months, if not weeks. Attractive offers, low deposits, no joining fees and mandatory yearly ‘lock-in’ sign-ups are some ways in which fitness franchises can deal with this problem.

The Importance of Location

The importance of having an easily accessible, attractive and prime location cannot be overstated for a ‘footfall’ heavy industry like fitness. You want more and more people to notice and visit your business to drive the revenue higher. This is one of the reasons why gyms that are located in premium corner locations in malls and shopping centres tend to do better.

If you can’t afford such a location, it’s still okay, given that you don’t have to face stiff competition. Unlike retail franchises and restaurants, fitness franchises find it very difficult to co-exist and share the territory. So, if you get your location right, you can give your business a great chance of succeeding.

Hire Responsibly

Regardless of the industry sector you operate in, it’s important to have the right kind of people working for you. This becomes even more evident in a service-oriented business like running a fitness franchise. Having experienced, licensed and responsible trainers on board will not only boost the credentials of your gym, but it will also lead to organic, passive advertising that can help your business immensely in the long run.

Marketing – How Vital Is It, Really?

Very few businesses can hope to make it big in this day and age without drawing up effective marketing strategies. The competition is never going to get thinner, meaning that you will have to incessantly keep fighting on this front – even when you are successful. This, many would argue, is common knowledge – but the numbers tell a different story. An independent survey of small businesses in the UK revealed in 2017 that nearly 50% of the participating business owners thought their marketing strategies to be below par. 60% of the surveyed small businesses were found to have no social media presence. If you don’t want your fitness franchise to go down this road, you’ll probably need to employ every trick in the book to get ahead of your competitors.

When you buy a fitness franchise from a reputed franchisor, you will most likely get access to their marketing team, strategies and material. This often involves ongoing marketing support for a recurring fee. Additionally, you can engage marketing experts to enhance your social media presence and target the local customer base more precisely. All these things will cost you money, but – when done right – it can all definitely be worth it.

Innovation Can Open Many Doors for Your Fitness Franchise!

We have already seen that there is a significant level of demand in the UK for fitness franchises. If, however, you want to operate in a location that already seems to be exhausted with gyms and fitness clubs, you will need to innovate and find niches that haven’t yet been tapped.

The good news is, there’s no dearth of such niche ideas as far as the fitness industry is concerned. Think yoga clubs, gyms for new mums, fitness clubs for the elderly, specialty training centres for kids – the opportunities are many and exciting.

It’s important – and we can’t stress this enough – to choose your franchise very, very carefully to minimise the risks.

Do You Have What It Takes to Run a Fitness Franchise?

Ask yourself a few questions before you decide that you really want to buy a gym franchise.

Are You a Fitness Enthusiast?

If you are a fitness enthusiast, love following a healthy lifestyle and enjoy your time at the gym, you will find it much easier to stay connected with your business at a personal level. This is not a prerequisite, but it certainly helps to have this point in your favour.

Do You Possess Good Communication Skills?

Running a fitness franchise will require you to keep in touch with a number of people on an everyday basis – customers, employees, suppliers and more. So, it’s very important that you possess good ‘people skills’ and know how to maintain effective, persuasive communication.

Can You Handle the Stress?

This is an important but often overlooked point. You will need to maintain a flexible balance between your personal life and your work life to be able to draw any satisfaction from your work. Running a fitness franchise is not a mean feat. So, ask yourself if you can work extra hard without letting the long hours get to you.

Are You Good at Managing Finances?

From counting the costs before you get into the business to always keeping a track of the business incomings and outgoings, you need to be extremely good at managing finances – even when you have employees and computers to handle the matters!


Read through our free ‘Should You Run a Franchise?’ guide to learn more about what it really takes to run a franchise business successfully.  

Top Fitness Franchises in the UK

Let’s take a look at some of the top fitness franchises in the UK to understand how their features compare. *

Anytime Fitness

  • Initial Investment: £170,000
  • 4,000+ global franchise units in operation
  • Thorough training
  • Monthly revenue
  • 24 x 7
  • Fixed fees

énergie Fitness

  • Initial Investment: £95,000 (inclusive of the Franchise Fee)
  • 100+ UK franchises in operation
  • 15 years of UK specific experience
  • Part time franchise units available
  • Experienced trainers
  • High brand value

Snap Fitness

  • Franchise Fee: £30,000 (excluding VAT)
  • Initial Investment: £170,000 (inclusive of the Franchise Fee)
  • 1,300+ members per UK franchise (on an average)
  • 2,000+ franchise units in operation around the world
  • Financing assistance available
  • 24 x 7


  • Initial Investment: £40,355
  • 6,000+ clubs around the world
  • Fitness clubs for women
  • Low cost fitness franchise opportunities

* Fees & features mentioned on this page are merely indicative and subject to change.

The Takeaways

  • Know whether franchising is for you.
  • Make sure you choose the right franchise.
  • Conduct thorough market research.
  • Explore niche fitness franchise opportunities.
  • Always stay on top of the numbers.

Franchising: The fitness franchise boom

April 14, 2018

The UK’s franchised fitness sector is heating up, with more and more operators turning to this model to achieve ambitious growth plans. Tom Walker takes a closer look

There are huge growth opportunities in the UK, due to the health and fitness boom. There’s also an emerging demand for functional training. It’s a concept many are making a priority – Rob Deutsch, founder of F45

In the 1950s, J Lyons & Co’s restaurant chain Wimpy arrived in the UK, bringing with it a new approach to business strategy: franchising.

Spanning sectors that include retail, food and automotive, it’s a business model that has enjoyed remarkable growth over the last 70 years. The fitness industry, however, has been a latecomer, waiting until 2003 to welcome its first franchise – énergie Fitness.

“When we launched in 2003, we were the market makers,” says Jan Spaticchia, co-founder and CEO of énergie Fitness. “The closest we had to a competing franchised fitness business was Rosemary Conley’s Diet and Fitness Clubs.”

In the 15 years since, however, the fitness industry has more than caught up. The sector is now teeming with franchised brands – ranging in size from niche operators with a handful of sites to Anytime Fitness, which has 140 clubs in the UK and Ireland

The pace of growth has been accelerating over the last five years, with both budget and mid-market operators entering the fitness sector with ambitious growth plans.

easyGym, which owns 16 clubs, recently revealed plans to sell 500 franchise licenses globally by 2022, while Snap Fitness is in the fourth year of an expansion push designed to raise its club count to 250.

As well as large operators, the franchising model has attracted smaller, independently-owned chains. These include Fitness Space, launched by former Olympian Tim Benjamin (see HCM February, p14), which has expanded to 22 sites in five years, and family-owned truGym, which offers franchises under two brands – the budget truGym clubs and truIntensity, a boutique HIIT concept.

The sector has also attracted a number of foreign boutique operators, keen to take advantage of the UK’s growing appetite for personalised and more intimate fitness experiences. One of these is Australian operator F45, which offers its members high-intensity circuit training classes in studios which are just 200 – 250sq m (2,150-2,690sq ft) in size.

“There are huge growth opportunities in the UK, due to the health and fitness boom right now,” says Rob Deutsch, founder of F45. “There’s also an, emerging demand for functional training. It’s a concept that many people are making a priority in their life.”

Another relative newcomer to the UK market is US-based boutique operator Orangetheory. Wildly successful in the US – where it has mushroomed from a single site in 2010 to more than 900 studios today – its concept is based on hour-long, group HIIT sessions that can accommodate up to 24 people.

Following a slow start in the UK – it initially signed a partnership deal with David Lloyd Leisure in 2013, but has so far opened just three sites – the brand reports that it’s now looking to accelerate its growth using franchisees and it has signed two master deals for a total of 110 sites across England.

“I definitely see the need for boutique fitness in the UK,” says Dan Adelstein, Orangetheory’s vice president of international development. “We just need to do a good job in growing our studios – and we are, with the ones we already have open – so it’s now a case of getting the next leases done.”

It isn’t just the newcomers to the market that have big plans. Established operators are also looking to ramp up their growth plans. Anytime Fitness is the UK’s largest fitness franchise operator – when measured by number of clubs – and the group is keen to keep its status. The company has a particularly strong presence in London, but is now ready to venture outside the capital.

“There’s potential across the UK, but we’d like to make greater inroads north of London and beyond,” says Stuart Broster, CEO of Anytime Fitness UK.

Broster was appointed to the role in August 2017 and tasked with making Anytime the largest in the country – by reaching 400 clubs by 2020.

“The majority of our clubs are currently in London and the south, and there are a lot of opportunities for our offering to thrive beyond that,” he says. “Convenience and 24/7 access are increasingly important to today’s consumers and we have the platform to deliver that model anywhere in the UK.”

Broster adds that while the growth plans are formidable – not just for his group, but for the industry as a whole – they’re also based on a healthy outlook and genuine market trends.

“The fitness industry is absolutely a growth market and continues to be attractive to franchisees,” he says.

“According to the 2017 State of the UK Fitness Industry Report, health and fitness is the sector to invest in. Market value has increased to £4.7bn and membership has exceeded 9.7m. Penetration is also at an all-time high of 14.9 per cent, meaning that one in every seven people in the UK is now a gym member.”

Isaac Buchanan, CEO of Snap Fitness, agrees and adds that, while more people are visiting gyms than ever before, there’s plenty of room for growth. “If you look to the US and Australian markets membership penetration rates are up to 7 per cent higher than the UK,” he says.

“Looking more locally to some European markets, the penetration rates are almost double that of the UK. I think the next 10 years will see a significant increase for UK penetration rates and that will be great for the sector.”

But with so many franchise operators looking to expand, could the recruitment of suitable franchisees and the availability of suitable sites become problematic?

For énergie’s CEO Spaticchia, the answer is twofold.”It’s tougher now and we need to work harder,” he says. “But as the market has grown, so the number of people looking to get involved in franchising has also significantly increased.”

Spaticchia adds that when it comes to an “ideal” énergie franchisee, although there’s no set profile – there’s one element that connects them all.

“Our franchisees come from all walks of life,” he says. “Some have worked in fitness before but others haven’t – there are doctors, people with an IT background and club managers. The only thing that connects them is that we recruit people who are passionate about providing fitness for others.”

At Snap Fitness, the profile of potential franchisees is more defined and is heavily focused on entrepreneurial skills – as the strategy is to help each grow beyond a single site. “We look for small business experts,” says Buchanan. “Previous experience owning or operating a business is compulsory in our network and we’re looking for people who want to grow with us and learn along the way as they expand beyond a single location.

“All but six franchisees in our network are currently multi-site operators. Of those six, three have purchased additional territories already and we’re actively finding them sites as we speak.”

It seems the future for the franchised sector looks bright. While competition is increasing, the consensus is that there’s still plenty to go around – both in terms of market penetration and the number of potential franchisees ready to pick up sites.

“We feel very lucky because we’re on the cusp of two very hot markets,” says énergie’s Spaticchia. “The budget fitness space is very hot from an investment point of view, but equally, fitness franchising has never been hotter.

“So while we have to deal with the environment getting more competitive, I think the fact that so many international franchises are heading for the UK has really shown that this is very fertile ground for growth.”

Adelstein says that a big reason for international companies, such as Orangetheory, arriving in the UK is the friendly business environment. “The franchising laws are easier here,” he says. “There are less regulations for franchisors than there are in the US or Canada, which makes the UK environment conducive to brands like us coming in.”

The trend of new companies entering the market is likely to continue too, says Buchanan. He doesn’t see any signs of a limit being reached: “I don’t think we’re anywhere near saturation point,” he says. “When the market is still as attractive as it is, brands will just keep on coming.”

Source: Health Club Management