Fitness Franchising: The Healthy Investment Opportunity
Current opportunities in the fitness space make franchising an interesting option for those who make a healthy, active lifestyle a priority. Market conditions, consumer trends and opportunities for additional revenue streams are helping attract investors.
By Adam Sedlack
Franchising has long served as the career opportunity of choice for established professionals looking to add a new income source as they prepare for retirement or seeking a way out of the corporate 9-to-5 and a second act in their careers. Proven franchise systems create a safer investment than starting a new business from scratch, allowing entrepreneurs to pursue these opportunities with greater confidence. Those who find themselves in position to open their own business face a number of difficult choices, but for entrepreneurs who pride themselves on a healthy, active lifestyle, the decision to buy a fitness franchise should be an easy one.
The knowledge, skills and experience these professionals have built up over the course of a career, combined with an entrepreneurial spirit, give them valuable insight into what it takes to run a business. A strong, established franchise system provides guidance and best practices that help fill in the gaps in their knowledge and experience, meaning they can supplement their existing skills with the shared knowledge of a successful franchise to get up to speed, smooth out the learning curve and find success quickly.
For fitness franchises, the coaching and guidance provided to new franchisees extends beyond what it takes to successfully run a business to include specific coaching and instruction for trainers and other gym staff. An established franchisor can train staff in the methods that have helped other gyms throughout the system thrive and retain monthly memberships. The ability of a franchisor to share tested, successful practices that support a new location from the front desk to the back office is a major reason why franchises are expanding quickly in the current economic climate. In 2016, The Franchised Business Outlook Report released by the International Franchise Association showed the franchise sector growing faster than the rest of the economy by nearly 2 percent.
Combining experience and a passion for fitness
For potential franchisees with an interest in a healthy, active lifestyle, buying into a fitness franchise allows them to combine their career experience, a proven business concept and their passion for fitness to drive them to success. Even with the backing of a strong franchise concept, starting a new business is hard work that sometimes requires long hours, but the added motivation of owning a business that surrounds you with a staff and customer base that share an enthusiasm for physical fitness means gym owners show up every day knowing they’re working to build something they really believe in.
While current economic conditions have been great for franchises, they’ve been especially great for the fitness industry. Brick-and-mortar retail’s decline has created many vacancies in commercial real estate. These vacancies, combined with gyms’ abilities to draw their members in several times a week, mean fitness centers make very appealing tenants for commercial realtors because they can entice retail businesses to remain in malls and shopping centers. These factors combine to give fitness franchises a lot of leverage when looking for sites, which leads to advantageous rent prices.
As the price of real estate is falling, revenue for the fitness industry is rising. The fitness industry generates $76 billion dollars worldwide. In response to the global obesity crisis, more people are seeing the value in fitness programs. The industry has proved itself to be recession resistant, as fitness enthusiasts are likely to prioritize spending on their health, even when they’re cutting back on other expenses.
Fitness brand growth outlook predicted
Analysts agree about the positive outlook for the fitness industry. Recent reports from market research firm IBISWorld peg growth in the fitness industry at 1.5 percent through 2022 and predict franchised fitness brands may grow twice as quickly as entrepreneurs look to cash in on reliable investment opportunities. Much of this growth is powered by fitness-minded millennials, who are willing to pay a premium for workouts that connect them with a community of peers for a shared fitness experience. While people of all ages join gyms, their popularity among millennials means fitness franchises can build a member base that will keep coming back for years to come.
Another advantage of fitness franchising is the multiple revenue streams available to business owners. In addition to the traditional monthly membership model, gyms can provide group fitness classes à la carte. This has proved to be a tremendously profitable business model in recent years for boutique fitness studios — see the recent explosion of cycling, yoga and barre studios — where consumers return for classes time after time for the group experience and community aspects just as much as they do to achieve and maintain their fitness.
Private coaching provides an opportunity for staff to connect with gym goers for one-on-one training sessions or to advise them on nutrition that helps them meet their fitness goals for an hourly or per-session rate. In addition to adding revenue, private coaching also helps gyms create lasting relationships and retain both members and staff longer.
Additional revenue sources
Beyond the service-based revenue streams, fitness franchises also have the opportunity to generate income through merchandise and other retail sales. When gym goers really connect with a gym’s brand, they’ll show that connection by buying and wearing branded workout apparel and other equipment they need to participate in the fitness program such as wraps, boxing gloves and other protective gear. The ability to sell those items on-site makes it easy for the customer and allows the franchisee to keep more of its members’ fitness spending on-site.
The franchise business model is a great fit for many types of entrepreneurs, but the current opportunities in the fitness space make franchising a particularly interesting option for those who make a healthy, active lifestyle a priority. The combination of market conditions, consumer trends and opportunities for additional revenue streams make fitness franchising a smart investment that will pay off in both the immediate and long term.
Adam Sedlack is President of UFC Gym. Find out more at www.franchise.org/ufc-gym-franchise.
Pro Athletes in Franchising
Don’t just take Adam Sedlack’s word for it. Several of UFC Gym’s most notable franchisees are current or retired professional athletes.
Rodriguez, a three-time Major League Baseball American League MVP and CEO of A-Rod Corp, owns a UFC Gym in Kendall, Fla. and the development rights for an additional 10 UFC Gym franchises to open in the greater Miami area in the coming years.
Michael Bisping and Cub Swanson
Co-franchisees Bisping and Swanson own a UFC Gym franchise in Costa Mesa, Calif. while continuing successful careers as UFC fighters. Bisping is the winningest fighter in UFC history, having won 20 fights over his career with the organization.
A two-time UFC champion, Penn has owned his UFC Gym franchise in Honolulu since 2012.
Edgar is a former UFC lightweight champion and current featherweight contender. He opened his UFC Gym franchise in 2016 in North Brunswick, N.J.