If you’re looking to start a fitness franchise that attracts a diverse crowd and provides users with all the flexibility they need, an all-hours gym may be the business for you. With demand for round-the-clock fitness businesses at an all-time high, there's plenty of opportunities for entrepreneurial individuals to take advantage of.
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Here, we take a look at the round-the-clock fitness industry and examine two of the top gym franchises keeping their doors open all day and all night. Then we’ll look at what has caused this particular sector to grow so rapidly.
The UK fitness industry- is it thriving?
According to the 2019 State of the UK Fitness Industry Report, the value of the UK fitness industry is at an all time high, being worth more than £5 billion. Also, the number of us with gym memberships has exceeded 10 million, which equates to 1 in 7 people holding a membership to our local gym in the UK.
The report also revealed that, during the year leading up to March 2019, the number of fitness facilities increased by 2.9 percent, the market value increased by 4.2 percent and the number of members increased by 4.7 percent. So it’s fair to say that the industry is thriving.
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It’s predicted that the UK fitness cub market will experience an annual growth rate of 8.5 percent in value and 5 percent in number of gyms and health clubs over next five years (Project Fitness UK 2018- Allegra Strategies). And why wouldn’t it? An increasing number of people are becoming more health conscious and changing the way they look at fitness, and therefore seek a gym franchise that suits their needs.
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The rise of around-the-clock fitness franchises
One of the critical areas in which the fitness industry has experienced an explosion of services is the 24/7 gym sector. As consumers have demanded greater flexibility from service providers, fitness franchises have responded by opening a large number of open-all-hours gyms.
Defined by increased automation and a low-cost approach, these gyms are generally stripped back and slimmed down, allowing them to charge less, stay open longer, and still make a profit.
Low cost, all-hours gyms have muscled in- a closer look at Pure Gym
The two largest fitness businesses, based on the number of members and gym locations, are Pure Gym and GLL. Pure Gym is open 24/7 and in 2018 it became the first UK fitness chain to reach 200 clubs. As Pure Gym is open round the clock, gym-goers can workout at a time most convenient to them. According to Pure Gym’s CEO, Humphrey Cobbold:
“…we offer services to double the membership at about half the price. And the way that we do that is to remove high-profile, lightly used facilities – such as Turkish baths, saunas, cafés and reception areas – and use that space for equipment…We’ve also extended the hours – typically our gyms are open 24 hours a day. Not many people are working out at 3am, but between 9.30pm and midnight and 4.30am and 7am – times when traditional gyms aren’t open, you will find a surprising number of people in there.”
So, with the industry experiencing year-on-year growth and (and considering it’s highly recession proof), why not look at starting a fitness franchise to capitalise on its profitability.
The UK’s top fitness franchises
Not every franchise manages to operate gyms that are open round the clock and some are far more successful than others. So, what makes a successful open-all-hours fitness franchise? Our two examples should provide some insight into how those at the top of their game operate.
1. Anytime Fitness
Anytime Fitness is one of the most recognised 24/7 gym brands in the UK. With 165 franchise units already in operation across the country, the franchisor hopes to grow to at least 250 gyms by 2020. This means that there's plenty of opportunity for anyone wishing to become an Anytime Fitness franchisee.
How successful is Anytime Fitness?
Founded in the US, the entire franchise network encompasses 4,500 gyms and over 4 million members. The franchise also boasts an incredible growth rate, with a new member joining on average every 3 minutes. This rapid expansion is one of the most impressive aspects of the Anytime Fitness business model.
What’s in it for franchisees?
Franchisees benefit from a healthy work/life balance that's based around the idea that they can choose how much time they wish to spend on-site or running the day to day operations of the franchise. Training and support are provided on an on-going basis, and intuitive digital systems ensure franchisees can work remotely if they want.
How much is the investment cost?
The total investment required is approximately £350,000, with the franchise fee set at £39,000. A large percentage of this can be financed via major lenders, and the franchise is willing to assist in crafting a thorough business plan for the application process.
2. Snap Fitness
Established in 2003, Snap Fitness began franchising in 2004 and has since grown to boast a global franchise network of over 2,000 franchise units. It specialises in providing a high-quality workout environment for those that want to be able to fit their fitness routine in around a busy schedule.
Why is this fitness franchise so successful?
The gym operates on a key card system, by which members can swipe in and out whenever they want, reducing staffing costs and ensuring the gym can be accessed at any time. The franchise has won several awards and regularly makes it into the Top Global Franchises list. Its founder, Peter Taunton was also awarded Entrepreneur of the Year in 2010.
What training would I receive?
Snap Fitness is dedicated to the success of its franchisees, so it’s developed a highly effective training and support programme. This includes everything from finding the perfect location to monthly marketing support.
How can I become a franchisee?
To become a Snap Fitness franchisee, you'll need to make an investment of between £125,000 and £450,000. The precise amount will depend upon location, the size of the gym, and fitting costs. Snap Fitness also charges a flat royalty fee, which is set at £400 a month. Franchisees are also expected to contribute £106 a month to the franchise's marketing budget.
The Gym Group
Whilst The Gym Group isn’t a franchise looking to expand its network with us, it’s a great example of an all-hours gym that’s become highly successful.
This gym business has well and truly made its mark on the health and fitness industry. It’s offers a ‘no strings attached’ approach to memberships. Many customers are tempted by a membership that they can stop whenever they want, as difficult-to-leave, lengthy contracts can pressure some people and deter them from joining in the first place.
It’s one of the first fitness businesses in the UK to implement Myride indoor cycling, as well as video-link Pilates, dance, yoga and aerobic classes available any time of day.
What’s the appeal of an open-all-hours fitness franchise?
When it comes to determining the appeal of round-the-clock gym facilities, there are many factors to consider:
- First and foremost, round-the-clock facilities cater to those that lead a busy, modern lifestyle, or for people who work unsociable hours like shift workers and students. This is an enormous market. The vast majority of people residing in larger cities lead lives that are dominated by work, with too few hours to fit in all the things they would like to do. They need fitness facilities that offer flexibility above all else.
- It’s also important to recognise the way in which gym facilities that are open 24 hours of the day have benefitted from the boom in low-cost fitness facilities. As a growing number of gyms have offered their members ‘no contract’ memberships at low monthly rates, they’ve been able to tap into an entirely new market. This type of fitness facility appeals to those who aren't sure that the gym is for them or that don't want to spend a considerable amount in case they use it less than expected.
- Finally, 24/7 gyms are also increasingly popular due to the diverse array of activities and exercises offered. Programmes like the Les Mills BodyPump and BodyCombat, alongside more traditional spinning and boxercise classes, have made gyms a more sociable place to be. As younger users abandon conventional social venues and look for alternative ways to meet new people and find a welcoming, close-knit community, gyms are stepping in to fill the void.
Convenience is the key to a fitness franchise’s success
Open-all-hours gyms have experienced enormous growth for many reasons. However, the primary source of their success is their ability to provide users with a convenient and flexible service that allows them to fit exercise around their busy schedules.
Two franchises have done this particularly well. Both Snap Fitness and Anytime Fitness understand that a 24-hour service depends on automation, streamlining services, and getting customers through the door.
If you’re looking for a fitness franchise that gets the basics right, they’re the best businesses around.
Becky Martin, Point Franchise ©