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Fitness Franchise Industry Report 2016

Fitness Franchise Industry Report 2016 

“As a Pilates enthusiast and mother of two, I was seeking a more personally gratifying role that would offer flexibility in my schedule to allow me more family time, as well as a career focused on my passion of health & wellness.”

~ Amanda Gomez, Club Pilates franchisee


If you’re good at developing relationships and passionate about helping people get fit, the fitness franchise industry could be a match for you. “Franchising is becoming the preferred pathway to entrepreneurship in the fitness industry,” says Pamela Kufahl of Club Industry. “Franchises that have proven that their business model can be a profitable venture are a more attractive prospect for entrepreneurs than establishing a brand from scratch, as can be seen in the growth of franchisors such as Anytime Fitness, Planet Fitness, Gold’s Gym, Snap Fitness, Barry’s Bootcamp, Orangetheory and Title Boxing Club.”





U.S. Percentage of the Total

Revenue (in billions)




Estimated Number of Clubs




Estimated Number of Members (in millions)




Statistics on Health & Fitness Clubs as of 2015 (Source: Statista)


Above are the most recent worldwide stats on health and fitness clubs and how the U.S. market stacks up within it.


As home to about 19% of the over 186,000 health and fitness clubs in the world alone, the United States still ranks as the largest fitness market in the world. The percentage of the U.S. population that engages in daily sports and exercise has consistently grown over the last five years from 18.5% to 20.4%. Because of this and other expected increases, industry annual revenue for health & fitness clubs is forecasted to grow to over $29 billion domestically by 2020 from its current $25.8 billion.


The Customization of Fitness

The fitness franchise industry is in the midst of changing times. Customization, a concept that has been widely covered in the food and retail industries, is also galvanizing change in fitness. “We don't live in a one-size-fits-all world anymore,” Mary Obana, president and co-founder of Koko FitClub, told Franchise Direct in an interview. “Technology and data make it possible to tailor services and experiences to each individual in ways that were never before practical or even possible.”


Koko FitClub is one of the leaders when it comes to the combination of fitness and technology. The franchise, which bills itself as “the world’s first and only digital gym,” not only uses its patented tech to not only help its customers experience customized coaching, but also to give its clients an edge for success.


“We offer something no other gym on the planet does, or can do: individualized coaching every single time a client comes in, no matter what they do or when they want to do it,” Mary says. “Koko offers [its franchise] owners a complete individualized coaching system to make it practical and possible for owners to deliver a repeatable individualized fitness experience for every client...The result is a more engaged client base, stronger retention and higher value client relationships.”


Retention = More Profit Potential

Retention is very important to fitness franchises. Retention rates, or the percentage of clients that renew their membership, is one of the top metrics to fitness franchise ownership success. In general, it costs about five times as much to gain a new customer than keep an existing one. Keeping existing clients saves fitness franchises money. In fact, a 5% increase in retention can yield profit increases between 25% and 95%.


It was too expensive / I could not afford it


I wasn't using my membership / wasn't going


I moved / the location was no longer convenient


I could exercise somewhere else for free


It was too crowded


I developed an injury / surgery / other condition


I felt out of place


I lost my job


I did not like to exercise


I didn't reach my fitness goals


It was too intimidating


There was no one there to guide me


I didn't know what to do there


I wanted to participate in another type of exercise


I met my fitness goals


Nobody I knew went to my former health club




Reasons Given for Non-Renewal of Membership

(more than 1 answer allowed to be chosen; Source: Statista)


Fitness franchises can increase their chances of keeping existing clients by fostering an inviting environment. Other ways include focusing on the details of the operation such as safety and cleanliness. Fitness franchises can also retain more of their clientele by diversifying their offerings, including having non-traditional hours that appeal to people’s varying schedules.


The Diversity of Fitness Franchise Options

The advancements from increased technology and data collection are leading to more and more ways to deliver fitness services to people, which means more and more people can utilize fitness services. As a result, there is no shortage of areas a prospective franchisee can get into when picking a fitness franchise to own. Some examples are described below.


As mentioned with Koko FitClub above, data has led to a number of more exacting fitness franchise programs that use a highly-developed and specialized methodology for their services.


Another example of a franchise doing this is Orangetheory Fitness. Its program is inspired by the scientific phenomena of Excess Postexercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC), the body’s elevated demand for oxygen and prolonged calorie-burning functions that continue even after cardiovascular exercise or weight training has finished.


Those two franchises are more contemporary examples of using the data to amend a service offering, but it’s been happening for decades. For instance, YogaFit was developed in the 1990s to address the challenges of teaching yoga – a former trend, not yet a mainstay – in modern health clubs. The goal was to develop a more “user-friendly” style that combined fitness moves such as push-ups, sit-ups and squats with traditional yoga postures in order to appeal to, and ultimately gain, more clients.


Fitness Franchise Industry Report 2016


Segmentation allows for programs to be tailored to certain demographic groups. The biggest demographic subset targeted being kids. Recent budget cutbacks not only effected the academic side of education; physical fitness programs also took a hit. Also, parents have discovered the benefits to getting kids active early.


My Gym is one of these fitness franchises that uses an integrated methodology to encourage healthy habits in kids. The franchise system focuses on helping children as young as 6 weeks thru the age of 10 years “develop physically, cognitively and emotionally.”


Safety is also a selling point for kid-oriented fitness franchises. An example is British Swim School, which teaches water survival techniques for infants and children.


But adults haven’t been left out if the trend towards catering to a certain demographic. For example, Fit4Mom is dedicated to the unique fitness needs of expectant and new moms.


The original segmentation subset surrounds what is taught in the class. And the hottest area currently is MMA (Mixed Martial Arts). Common disciplines of MMA include: boxing, Muay Thai, kickboxing, jiu-jitsu, judo, wrestling, karate, and taekwondo.


The aim for many of these franchises is to integrate core martial arts principles and philosophies into mainstream fitness culture to fight the boredom of a “typical” workout. Examples include: TapouT Fitness, which is named for a popular saying in MMA; UFC Gym, an offshoot of the most well-known brand in MMA; and 9Round, a kickboxing-centric franchise.


On the periphery of the industry are franchises that support the business of staying in shape and those who participate in athletic activities. Sport is BIG business, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that fitness and sports franchises extend well beyond the field of play.


This segment of fitness franchises include companies such as: NexGoal, which helps former Olympic, collegiate and professional athletes turned aspiring entrepreneurs to step into the business world; NFP Sports, which helps sports teams and programs raise money without up-front costs or minimum donation amounts; and Pro Image, a retail franchise that helps fans display their fandom.


Classic Workouts Still a Draw

But don’t think that because more contemporary methods of exercise are gaining followers, the more traditional gym workout is dying out. As the saying goes, “classics never go out of style.”


According to the most recent American College of Sports Medicine’s annual fitness trends poll, “old-fashioned” weight training is still strong and experiencing renewed popularity. “You’re seeing a return to more ‘basic’ bodyweight movements that, when programmed smartly, are super effective and creative,” says Mike Donavanik, a Los Angeles-based trainer and fitness instructor.


Classes that combine functional movement and cardio like treadmill running, cycling, and rowing are expected to trend upward.


Fitness Franchise Industry Report 2016


Buying a Fitness Franchise

Please note: the provisions and fees illustrated below are some of the most common and not a complete listing. All financial figures come from the Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD) of each respective franchise dated 2016. Please review the FDD of a franchise for all of the provisions and fees related to investing in that particular franchise.


Benefits of Franchise Ownership vs Independent Operation

As mentioned at the beginning of the report, franchising is becoming a preferred way for fitness entrepreneurs to enter business ownership.


One of the biggest reasons is budget. According to Club Intel’s report on 2016 trends, “It appears in the U.S. budget sector we are quickly approaching a time when the supply of budget gyms will exceed consumer demand, thus reducing the ability of the respective gyms to achieve a critical mass of members sufficient to achieve their ROI requirements.”


Because of this growth, the price wars within fitness can be just as fierce as they are in the fast food industry. The benefits that come from an established brand name can help fitness franchise owners stand out from the pack as the number of fitness locations increases. Also, economy of scale when it comes to advertising support and equipment purchase are big pluses when it comes to fitness franchise ownership vs. independent ownership.


In addition, innumerable trends have come and gone just within the last 10 years of fitness, being partnered with a franchisor can help you stay on top of not only what’s hot, but also the best practices of fitness center operation.


Be Ready to Work to Make Your Franchise a Success

Being a franchise owner is not a passive activity. Even with the power of an established brand behind you, you will still need to put in sweat equity to see good returns – just like the clients who will visit your fitness franchise.


As Mary told us, “You have to make your new business come to life. That means setting performance, service quality and financial goals right from the start, and managing to those goals each day, each week and each month. You have to draw people to you, not expect they will automatically find you. Reputations matter. Referrals are gold. That requires an engaged owner who is animated by building a great team and a great business for each and every client.”


Opening Costs

The amount necessary to open a fitness franchise varies depending on the unique business system, equipment needed, etc.


Initial costs associated with opening a franchise include the franchise fee, land and building costs (if applicable), training expenses (such as travel and living expenses, not the actual training courses), grand opening advertising and marketing costs, and more.


The following chart demonstrates, by comparison, estimated initial investment ranges associated with opening one of the 10 sample franchises presented.


As you will see, the initial investment can range widely within a single franchise system. That is because of factors such as whether the franchise will be mobile or building-based, real estate cost differences from area to area, whether or not a building is being constructed or retrofit and, as noted before, the type of franchise the franchisee decides to open.


Sample Fitness Franchise Initial Costs

Estimated Initial Investment Ranges for Selected Fitness Franchises

*Does not include costs for rent


Ongoing Fees

When setting your franchise budget, don’t forget about the ongoing fees.


In addition to normal business operating costs like payroll and utilities, franchises collect fees for things like advertising and proprietary software. Also typically collected is a royalty, which serves as payment for the franchisee’s continuing to utilize the franchisor’s system. Examples of how royalties are collected are provided below for each sample franchise.





$449 per month

Anytime Fitness

$549 per month for a regular center; $449 per month for an express center

Club Pilates

6% of Gross Sales


2% of Gross Sales

Fitness Together

6% of gross receipts

My Gym

7% of Gross Volume for a fixed center; $125/month to $250/month or 7% of Gross Volume for a mobile center

Pro Image Sports

4% of gross sales

The Little Gym

8% of Monthly Gross Revenue


6% of monthly Gross Revenues


The greater of 5% of Gross Revenues or $500 per month

Royalties for Selected Fitness Franchises

(Click on the Franchise Name for More Details on the Franchise and its Costs)


In addition to regularly assessed fees, other fees are charged on an “as needed” basis such as audit fees, or for additional, non-mandatory training.


Prior to investing, prospective franchisees should do their research and carefully review a franchisor’s FDD for more detailed information on all systems, procedures and costs.


For more information on a number of fitness franchises, please see our fitness franchise profile page.

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