Spotlight on Health and Fitness

By Business Franchise Magazine

This article appeared in Issue 4.1 (November/December 09) edition of Business Franchise Australia New Zealand.  



The notion that Australians are all sporty, outdoor, fit individuals has taken a beating over the last decade, but the good news is that health and fitness is now one of the fastest growing industries.

Authentic Health Fitness Australia reports that many Australians are under the misconception that we must be healthy and fit, just because we’re one of the best sporting countries.

The reality is that we’re amongst the worst.  Most Australians are spectators, not players. As the Australian Heart Foundation researched, 8 out of 10 adults are either physically inactive, overweight or have high blood pressure.

Some of the worst statistics for illnesses and ailments in Australia include cardiovascular disease, cancer risk, diabetes, osteoporosis, obesity and arthritis.  Many GPs are strongly recommending exercise for their obese and overweight patients.  Keeping fit and healthy is also beneficial for good mental health and alleviating stress.

Business prospects that come under the banner of health and fitness include gyms and fitness clubs; personal training services; weight loss centres; dietary and lifestyle programs; vitamin supplements; sporting and fitness equipment; and chiropractic, physiotherapy and podiatry services.

Gyms & health clubs

One Australian company that is trying to help reverse the obesity trend is Linda Allen Fitness, a Queensland based fitness franchise. Established by Australian triple jump record holder Linda Allen, the franchise has increased from a sole studio in 2006 to having 9 studios through South-East Queensland.

The studios were created to meet the demand for a low-cost, personal and professional option for consumers.

“Over 7 million adults are obese and overweight, and most of them just need a supportive environment to get on track to achieving their weight loss goals.” Say Linda Allen.

Aryan Taefi, Linda Allen Fitness’ first franchisee, was only 19 years of age when he opened up his own Linda Allen Fitness studio.

“I have always been passionate about health and fitness, and was employed by Linda in her original studio as a personal trainer. I saw the potential there for the company to grow, and enquired about my own studio. Six months later, I opened my first studio at Runcorn!” Aryan recalls.

“I had no prior business experience, but by buying a franchise, I had that initial and ongoing support from Linda and the team. I never would have been able to do what I have done if I went it alone. I would get bored working 9am to 5pm office jobs like all my friends. Not many people my age get to say they are their own boss and have their future in their own hands.”

Open 24/7, Anytime Fitness provides over 700,000 members with convenient and affordable fitness options in friendly, well-maintained facilities featuring top-quality equipment. State-of-the-art security and surveillance systems ensure member safety even during unstaffed hours at the clubs.

A year ago, Justin McDonell and Jacinta McDonell Jimenez agreed to become the first non-U.S. master franchisees for health club giant Anytime Fitness.  The Australian brother and sister team tried to set realistic goals for themselves; they had faith in the business model, but they also understood that introducing a new brand is never easy. 

“From our experience”, explains Jacinta, “we knew the Australian fitness market and thought that opening five clubs in 12 months would be a good start for us.”  Already surpassing that challenge, the couple is well on its way to an even more impressive second year. 

“We’ve exceeded all of our projections thus far,” says Justin.  “In our first 12 months of operation, we’ve sold more than 30 franchise territories in Australia.  Of those territories, 16 clubs are already open and another 12 clubs will be open before the end of the year.” 

Not only are Jacinta and Justin selling franchise territories at an impressive rate, they also say that the number of memberships sold within each club has succeeded expectations. 

“We’ve been really well-received,” says Justin.  “All of our clubs that have been open at least three months each have an average of 773 members.”  Justin and Jacinta hope to open at least another 300 clubs within the next 4 years.

As one of the first express fitness products to specifically target women between the ages of 30 and 55, Contours has become one of Australia’s fastest growing franchises with an average of two Contours studios opening every week.  Contours is a unique fitness concept for women on the go, based on an innovative 29 minute workout program that combines the latest weight-bearing equipment specifically designed for women with an intensive cardio workout in a small studio environment.

With over 50,000 Australian members, leading women’s fitness chain, Contours, decided to look within for its new brand via a nationwide search of members. Six women were chosen to represent the brand across all Contours print advertising, studio signage and on the website; women who embody the Contours brand values of authenticity and attainability.

By means of their recently launched advertising and marketing campaign, Contours intend to bring their brand to life and put the focus back on real women with real results in a familiar environment. The women’s opinions and testimonials are sincere and real!

“We have so many amazing women involved with our brand, with inspiring stories and experiences that we decided to look within--  after all, the best ambassadors for Contours are the members themselves!” said Contours national marketing manager Jennifer Segal.

The 24 hour Jetts Fitness franchise continues to experience rapid growth as the unique model gains popularity across Australia.

The Jetts gym franchise is the brain child of co-founder and Managing Director Brendon Levenson, a Sunshine Coast businessman, who created the business after becoming disillusioned with expensive gym memberships offering a range of facilities he rarely used.

The Jetts concept, which has minimal staff to keep its overheads low, uses a swipe-in card to allow members access at anytime. There are no classes, no crèches and no contracts.

Brendon’s 24-hour gym concept emerged after a number of years of working in the industry; as well as conducting extensive research into new technology and membership studies. He managed his own gym for several years and experimented with a number of different models before finally deciding on the Jetts concept. He says lot of gyms have amazing facilities but the simple fact is most people don’t have time to utilise them consistently.

“My goal was to create a gym where the member’s needs came first, whilst maintaining a profitable business model mum and dad’s could invest in and get profitable returns in a field they enjoy,” he said.

After researching the market extensively, Brendon discovered the Australian gym climate was significantly under-developed. He found out the main reasons people joined the gym, as well as why they left.

“I realised a lot of members weren’t overly happy with the restrictions big clubs had in place such as long term contracts, limited opening hours, high prices and pushy sales staff.

He says it didn’t make sense to charge people for facilities they didn’t use, or for members to travel long distances to simply workout.

“An industry survey across a range of gym members indicated the majority of members joined gyms first for convenience, then on price,” he said.

A number of companies were also trying the smart access card system overseas with a global trend emerging.

“Hotels around the world had been using their own simplified means of the technology to give guests 24 hour access to gym facilities. I knew if we could commercialise the concept and create a convenient, low cost fitness offer it would have a good chance of succeeding,” he said.

The franchise can be managed anywhere in the world and can be run on minimal staff. Jetts corporate also provide franchise owners with ongoing support, cash flow and billing systems, marketing campaigns, state of the art equipment, online administration systems and more.

Jetts Fitness currently operate over 30 clubs across the country and have recently opened up in Mt Gravatt, Kawana, Bundall, Annerley, Camp Hill. The chain currently opens a new club every weekend and expects to have over 200 clubs operating 2012.

Created specifically for women, Curves was designed to offer a complete fitness and nutrition solution. The Curves 30 minute workout exercises every major muscle group and burns up to 500 calories through a proven program of strength training, cardio and stretching.

Curves recently launched their revolutionary new technology 'Curves Smart'; the first ever electronic personal trainer to regulate every workout for a precise personal best.  Costing millions of dollars and taking five years to develop, it has resulted in a product that ensures members are working out properly.

Just launched in Australia, this technological breakthrough delivers a personal coach in a computer chip, which improves the quality of every workout by 20%.

The Curves Smart electronic system interacts with each machine on the circuit to continuously let women know if they’re meeting their precise targets for heart rate, intensity, range of motion, and repetition for that piece of equipment.

Curves Smart is now being rolled out in 70 countries, and women everywhere report they are delighted with the results, and with themselves, for maximising their workout time to get better results, faster!  There are 400 Curves Clubs in Australia.

Snap Fitness, the world’s fastest growing franchisor of compact, state-of-the-art fitness centres, recently announced a partnership with a privately-held, Australian-based area development group.  The group is headed by Rozlyn Barker, formerly of Goodlife Health Clubs, who brings with her over 20 years of health and fitness industry experience.

Consistently opening 300-400 new clubs each year worldwide, Snap Fitness is seeking qualified single- and multi-unit franchise owners to open new fitness centres in strategic markets throughout the country.

“Australians are placing more importance on fitness than ever before,” said Barker. “The issue for many people is that they have trouble finding the time workout, and many fitness clubs don’t offer a great deal of flexibility for members. Over the years other companies have attempted to mimic the company’s business model, but we are confident that anyone that steps foot in one of our clubs will be able to see the difference and understand what makes Snap Fitness the global leader in fast, convenient and affordable workouts across the globe.”

Snap Fitness Founder and CEO, Peter Taunton said, “We are thrilled to have Rozlyn and her team joining Snap Fitness, and even more excited to expand Snap Fitness on an international level into Australia and New Zealand.  We are looking forward to fast growth throughout the country, and plan to open between 250 and 350 new clubs within the next five years.”

The Healthy Inspirations franchise system is shaping women's health across Australia and could shape your business future. Healthy Inspirations is the only integrated weight loss system that combines personalised eating plans, one-on-one coaching, effective resistance training and relaxation therapy, all under one roof.

At Healthy Inspirations, there are no expensive meal replacements, unproven supplements or false promises of weight loss from just doing exercise. Instead, it's a synthesis of the best techniques and practices in weight management that delivers sustainable results.

The business does take some hard work, especially in the first year. Healthy Inspirations look for people with local knowledge and connections, and the willingness to get outside and promote their business to the local community. They also look for people who are passionate about living a healthy lifestyle and helping others achieve this as well.

Healthy Inspirations was initially developed in the United States and currently operates successfully in the USA, Canada, Brazil and Australia . In Australia, Healthy Inspirations centres are in QLD, NSW, SA, ACT, VIC and WA with many more centres opening soon.

Personal Training

Step into Life franchisee Marie Muscat has owned her Mackay (QLD) group outdoor personal fitness business for two years.  Just recently, she turned over $21,500 in just one month!  As a single mother of two teenagers, she was previously employed in a gym as a trainer.  However, boredom and monotony were huge issues in her life – but not anymore!

Marie comments, “As I am sure everyone agrees, owning your own business is hard work, but what a wonderful way to work – doing what I love and helping people reach their goals all at the same time.  It’s a positive way to start each day.  Not many people can say they can get up and do what they love doing every day and owning the business too.”

She has also met so many people through her classes.  “My members range from a huge variety of professions and we seem to have a great social side happening – before and after the classes the members get together and some great friendships have formed; I find that very exciting.  There are always lots of laughs in our classes and it’s lovely to see everyone enjoying themselves as well as working hard.

“I was fortunate enough to be able to reach the 100 Member Club  of members really quickly and at my first Convention received  Rookie of the Year and Franchise of the Year for the state of Queensland in the last have 12 months I have achieved the highest gateway Club the 150k. This has been a great sense of achievement and one that I could only have dreamed of.”

Stressed-out and time poor Australian executives may be worried about losing their job, but an increasing number are more focused on losing weight and staying healthy, according to national fitness group New Level Personal Training.

New Level has recorded a sharp rise in its membership base across Victoria, NSW and Queensland over the past 12 months, despite the economic downturn, and a noticeable rise in the number of executives enrolling in stress management programs.

“There’s no doubt we’re in the midst of a tough economic period but we’re finding people are still willing to invest in themselves on a health and fitness level, even though there’s a lot less job certainty out there,” says New Level managing director, Travis Bell.

“Our catchcry is about looking after your number one asset, and I think a lot of people are taking that very seriously. We expect the new financial year, and the hope of an upturn, will spur even more people to take up personal fitness programs.”

Currently with 15 studios in three Australian States, the company expects to aggressively expand over the next year in line with the growing demand for its personal fitness services and programs. These involve one-on-one personal training programs, studio classes and individually tailored health and nutrition plans.

“It’s very interesting to note that we are recording strong growth and demand, and I’m sure this is evident across the whole industry, because people are not willing to sacrifice their health even in an economic downturn,” Mr Bell says.

Other opportunities

Back in Motion Health Group is a leading physiotherapy and wellness group in Australia.  Starting as a small practice in 1999 from the home of founders Jason and Paulina Smith, they commenced franchising four years ago.

It has now developed into 40 practices over Victoria, South Australia and New South Wales.  The group’s expertise includes physiotherapy, massage, pilates and personal training.

Back in Motion acknowledge that while physiotherapists are excellent clinicians, they are traditionally ill equipped to enter the challenging world of private practice.  The National Support Office uses in house expertise to better manage the recruitment of new physiotherapists to the group, including the managing of job ads, candidate analysis and interviewing.  The successful candidate will then be introduced to the franchisee to ensure they are a cultural fit.

NSO has also built a strong internal accounts and bookkeeping team that provides fee for service bookkeeping and accounting services to franchisees.  This ensures accurate and compliant financial reports, as well as efficient processing of accounts payable and receivable.  Legal and IT support are provided by external partners that have a strong, ongoing relationship with BIM and can readily be accessed by franchisees.

The Feast & Famine Weight Loss Program demonstrates how people can easily experience natural and sustainable weight loss, never go hungry and literally eat themselves thin.  Feast and Famine’s unique 3 part ‘Potential Fat Index’ food listing teaches people in simple-to-understand terms what the most health giving foods and drinks to consume are and when these should be indulged in.  And their weight loss products are all natural and revolve around sound nutritional advice.

As a delivery based distribution business, Feast & Famine franchisees have health retail outlets sell their products on their behalf.  Franchisees simply service those retail outlets by keeping them stocked with product, and simply collect the money each week.  Feast & Famine provided all training and support to get you started.

A Feast & Famine franchise offers extremely low start up costs, extensive training and personal one-on-one support, flexible hours.  From 5-10 hours per week there is no need to quit your job, but for entrepreneurial individuals, the business expansion is endless.  The flexibility is to earn as much or as little as you like.  There are no ongoing fees and no prior technical knowledge or business experience required.

Proarch Podiatry is currently the only franchised podiatry business in Australia, but it is by no means a new business. Tyson Franklin, the creator of Proarch Podiatry has been practicing podiatry for over 20 years.

Every podiatrist makes arch supports (orthotics) and every orthotic is different depending on which podiatry clinic a patient attends. This is where Proarch Podiatry differs from their opposition and other stand alone podiatry clinics.

Proarch Podiatry, now with five locations in Queensland, uses the expertise of each individual podiatrist within the group to learn and share knowledge, resulting in far better treatment outcomes for patients.

Proarch has developed their own unique arch support called Proarch Foot Supports.  They are made from soft durable rubber type materials, similar to those used in top class athletic shoes. Different materials are selected depending on the patient’s footwear, activities and sports.

Proarch Podiatry plans to expand rapidly over the next few years focusing as it does now on regional areas. Currently only established in Queensland, Proarch have received a lot of interest from NSW and Victoria over the past six months, from both Podiatrists wanting to own their own business and also enquiries about obtaining the Master Franchise in each State.