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Fitness Files: RetroFitness Founder Plans to Keep Offering “Latest and Greatest” to Franchisees and Members

by Brian Bixler on February 20, 2013

in Fitness Files, Fitness Franchises

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On New Year’s Eve, during the “New Year’s Rockin’ Eve” broadcast, when the ABC network would cut to Ryan Seacrest in Times Square, behind the host, television viewers could see a billboard for RetroFitness.

RetroFitness CEO Eric Casaburi

Eric Casaburi, Founder and CEO of RetroFitness

While bringing some national exposure to the brand that is currently concentrated in the Northeast, CEO Eric Casaburi said the marketing effort created a good feeling among franchisees, even if there is no way to track how much business it might have generated.

It’s just the latest example of how Casaburi tries new and different things to bring attention to his growing chain of fitness clubs.

“It’s outside-the-box thinking right now, which I think is going to be really key” to seeing the company grow, Casaburi said in an interview with Franchise Chatter.

RetroFitness set itself apart from other fitness clubs right out of the gate by stressing a 1980s theme at its facilities: retro cardio movie theaters, RetroBlends juice bars, tanning booths, Rubik’s cubes at the front desk, and red and yellow weight machines on its floors.

Today, Casaburi sees the brand defined as “more fitness for less money.” Members join for $19.99 per month, which covers access to an extensive array of amenities in a big box atmosphere.

“We’re a very low-cost, high-end experience, which is sort of like what Target did to Wal-Mart,” Casaburi said. “We’re adding more value into the gym, creating a tremendous amount of value for our customers.”

Expanding Brand Recognition

The model is also attracting investors: Entrepreneur magazine named RetroFitness one of the top 10 new franchises in 2011, the same year the startup landed on the magazine’s list of fastest-growing franchises. It currently stands at No. 270 on Entrepreneur’s Franchise 500.

Founded by Casaburi in 2002, New Jersey-based Retro Fitness began franchising in 2006. The clubs feature cardio equipment, circuit training equipment, movie theaters that play ’80s films, weights, personal training, tanning, group fitness, a smoothie bar, supplements, and chiropractic services.

“I think what we really did well was building a beautiful box that really defines us,” Casaburi said. “People are really embracing this cross-training environment. You can’t be in a gym with just a treadmill anymore.”

And Casaburi said he plans to keep enhancing the brand by staying on top of the best technology and equipment for fitness. The company aligns itself with other established brands by offering Life Fitness and Hammer Strength equipment, P90X gear, and Under Armour apparel in its clubs.

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