How to Choose a Sports, Fitness, or Gym Franchise That's Right for You

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Perhaps you know you’re interested in starting a business in the fitness sector, but aren’t quite sure how to narrow down your options. Here’s a rundown of some different fitness franchise opportunities and the type of investor they would suit.

Thanks to the growing fitness industry, it’s a fantastic time to become a franchisee with a sports or gym business. Take a look below at some of the different types of fitness franchise, and how you can choose the right one for you.

1. Gym franchise

Many people dream of starting their own gym, but not everyone has the right set of attributes. If you’d like the freedom to choose whether you take a managerial role or get stuck into the physical side of running a fitness franchise, a gym could be for you. As a gym owner, you can hire employees to carry out your vision and create a small community of likeminded exercise enthusiasts.

You’ll also be able to get involved with lots of different types of fitness activities if you choose the right franchise. For example, many gyms offer a wide range of classes alongside the use of their equipment. So, you could run aerobics, zumba, spinning or even yoga sessions as part of your daily routine.

Becoming a gym club franchisee will involve securing a high-footfall site and buying the right equipment. So, although there are low-cost gym franchises out there, this type of business will suit someone with a good budget.

Choosing the right gym franchise

A great gym franchise invests in high-quality equipment and offers classes to cater to a wide proportion of people. Taking advantage of the latest fitness trends is another hallmark of a profitable business, as it can attract those who want to get involved in the activities they’ve seen on social media.

2. Outdoor fitness franchise

While gyms are a second home for some, they can also be fairly intimidating for others. So, you may want to look into outdoor fitness franchises. This is a great option if you want the chance to run larger classes, whilst getting plenty of fresh air.

Of course, weather can be an obstacle here, and you’ll need to be prepared to see a decline in attendees during the winter. However, you can turn this into a positive; an outdoor franchise is ideal for franchisees who want to run a seasonal business. You could enjoy spending more time with family and friends around Christmas, or work on a separate business venture for a few months every year for additional income.

Depending on the franchise you join, you may be able to run your business for part of the year and close it for the winter, but if your sports club runs all year round, you’ll need to have the motivation to go out in all weathers.

Choosing the right outdoor fitness franchise

Outdoor fitness franchises attract many different demographics – as long as you offer the right classes. For this reason, it’s worth finding a chain with a wide range of classes, such as aerobics, HIIT (high-intensity interval training), Zumba and yoga.

As previously mentioned, you could also keep an eye out for franchises with a focus on trends, as you’d be able to offer your attendees the chance to try out popular activities. And if you’re not sure where to start, take a look at One Element, which runs fitness classes in local parks.

3. Mobile personal trainer franchise

You may not have considered offering mobile fitness services. If you’re looking for an investment opportunity with the flexibility to manage your own working hours and make time for other commitments, this could be the best option for you. Being willing to travel to your clients is a must, as it’s likely you’ll use a company car to visit your customers in their own homes.

As you won’t have a dedicated gym floor, you’ll need to be resourceful at times. Customers may not have a huge space for workouts, so you may have to get creative when it comes to exercising with new clients.

Choosing the right mobile personal trainer franchise

If you’re to maximise your income as a mobile personal trainer, you should make sure the franchise you join has a great marketing scheme in place. At the very least, they should provide fully liveried vehicles or the chance to add a wrap to your own car, so you can publicise your business when out and about.

Profitable franchises should also include branded uniforms in their investment bundle. Finally, having an extensive franchisee support network is particularly important in mobile businesses, as investors won’t be working as part of a team every day.

4. Sports therapy franchise

Join a sports therapy franchise to help others. As a massage or physical therapist, you’ll carry out treatments before and after sports events, and after injuries. This is ideal for entrepreneurs with an interest in sports science and the ability to be compassionate towards clients.

Choosing the right sports therapy franchise

If you’re not a trained sports therapist, it’s vital you choose a franchise with a comprehensive training scheme. Most will provide all the tuition you need to offer safe massages and advice.When you’re seeking out the perfect investment opportunity, pay special attention to franchises with links to existing organisations, such as gyms, sports clubs and physiotherapy centres. Partnerships with annual events like Tough Mudder will also be beneficial, as it’ll bring more clients to your door.

5. Yoga/Pilates franchise

As the ‘wellness’ trend sweeps the country, activities like yoga and Pilates are becoming more popular than ever. If you’d like to get involved in this less physically demanding exercise, you can capitalise on the growing demand. You’ll get the chance to organise retreats, both in the UK and abroad, as well as help others improve their flexibility and mental wellbeing.

Choosing the right yoga franchise

As the popularity of yoga rises, so does consumer interest in health retreats. For this reason, it’s a good idea to find a franchise that arranges them at regular intervals. Then, you’ll be able to benefit from the extra income when your class members buy their tickets.

When you’re researching franchises, keep an open mind. There are lots of different variations of yoga and Pilates, so it’s important to find a balance when it comes to choosing a franchise. You’ll need to find one that both appeals to you and a large share of the general public.

6. Running/walking franchise

Starting a running or walking club is a great choice for those who want to get out in the fresh air and benefit from a change of scenery. It’s also ideal if you’re looking for a less strenuous form of exercise than other franchises offer.

By becoming a running or walking club franchisee, it’s likely you’ll build a friendly community, who can work out together and offer words of encouragement and praise. As a result, the franchisee should be a real people-person with a genuine interest in their club members.

Choosing the right running/walking franchise

Established clubs can be intimidating for new participants, especially if the existing members appear to be a close-knit group. So, look out for a franchise that promotes a friendly, inclusive culture, as this will maximise the number of people who join your club.

Franchises with sponsorship partners are also a good investment. If you want to benefit from an additional income stream, having the option to use local sponsors is a great way to top up your revenue pot.

7. Children’s fitness franchise

If you love being around children, why not start a children’s fitness franchise unit? You’ll need to be good at teaching sports and explaining concepts concisely. In this sub-sector, swimming franchises are particularly common, and they can be a fantastic investment if you want to help impart a life-saving skill.

Teaching children is also incredibly emotionally rewarding, as you’ll be able to witness your club members improve and grow over time. When they leave, you’ll know you have done your job well, and – in the case of a swimming franchise – protected them for life.

Choosing the right children’s fitness franchise

The most lucrative children’s fitness franchises offer classes around the school day, at times when parents can easily drop their kids off on the way to or from school. Look out for franchises that have partnered with school and run pre- and after-school classes. Some also run children’s parties, which can help bring in more money at weekends.

8. Online nutrition and fitness advisor

Today, more and more people are turning to the internet to find fitness solutions. If you have good digital skills and are looking for a less time-consuming investment opportunity, you could consider becoming an online nutrition and fitness advisor.

As you develop the business, you’ll be able to add more strings to your bow, such as starting a sponsored fitness blog or running nutrition courses. This is a highly competitive sub-sector though, so you’ll need to be prepared to put in the work to make your venture profitable.

Choosing the right online nutrition and fitness franchise

Being able to offer various services will help boost your income, so find a franchise with multiple revenue streams. For example, some also sell subscription boxes alongside their online tutorials. Great online fitness franchises always offer ongoing training opportunities too, with the chance to learn about the latest technologies and techniques, as well as any industry news.

Joining the fitness sector

As with any franchise, there are a few factors you’ll need to consider, no matter the type of business you’re joining. Make sure it reflects your own values and is run by a franchisor you’re sure you can collaborate well with. On top of this, you’ll have to find a suitable location, which a high number of customers will be willing to travel to. You can also check out our 'Top 10 Sports, Fitness, and Gym Franchises in the UK' article here.

>> Read more articles on the Sports sector

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