In this exclusive Q&A, we get to learn more about the fitness franchise STRIDE from its president, Jeff Stokes.
Franchise Chatter (FC): Can you please share a bit of background on the STRIDE concept, including its founding story and its growth up until this point?
Jeff Stokes (JS): STRIDE was founded in 2017 in Pasadena, CA. After trying a different boutique running workout, Katie Ownbey and Misa Dugally developed an interest in opening their own boutique running experience. Katie’s strong corporate background in business expansion, finance management and contract negotiation was the ideal match to Misa’s experience in education, design and retail.
Following a successful first few years in business, they formed a partnership with Xponential Fitness at the end of 2018. STRIDE fulfills the final boutique fitness vertical – running – of the Xponential portfolio.
The concept of STRIDE consists of three core class formats and a unique leveling system that allows clients to take every class as a walker or runner. Each individual is able to find the workout that best challenges them and aligns with their fitness abilities. STRIDE has Certified Run Coaches, state-of-the-art Woodway treadmills, and cutting-edge data integration technology.
FC: What makes STRIDE an attractive business opportunity for potential franchisees?
JS: STRIDE taps into a universal modality, 60 million runners and 110 million people who identify as walkers in the U.S. alone, and is a first to the market concept. STRIDE is in a unique vertical that provides a platform for great growth. That, in combination with a corporate team that is dedicated to helping franchisees succeed, is what will set STRIDE apart from any other running brands. We offer franchise partners the opportunity to capitalize on a brand-new fitness franchise in this emerging vertical.
FC: How does the STRIDE experience differentiate itself from the experience of running outdoors or running clubs?
JS: Here at STRIDE, we believe that you don’t have to be a runner to join this community. We focus on building an inclusive support system. We think of ourselves as the marriage between a run club and a boutique fitness club. Those who are training for a marathon or running for the first time are all a part of a supportive community that you don’t have when you’re running outdoors by yourself.
FC: What qualities do you look for in a potential franchisee? Which territories are you currently seeking for growth and development?
JS: There are a number of groups who make great franchisees, including those that are passionate about health and fitness, those who have business management or ownership experience, ex-corporate executives who have led a team and finally, individuals who are passionate about running and are excited about what an indoor-running concept like STRIDE can bring to the industry.
We’ve also started to see people who are excited about what Xponential is doing in the boutique fitness industry and the growth we’re already seeing across all of our sister brands. We want them to combine their passions for business and fitness and join the STRIDE family.
With one studio currently open and multiple already in development in San Diego, Tustin, Scottsdale and Jacksonville, among other markets, we are projecting to have 200+ franchised locations sold and 100 studios open within the next year. STRIDE is looking to expand across suburban areas, metropolitan areas and major cities, like Los Angeles, Boston and Chicago.
FC: What is the typical investment to open a STRIDE studio?
JS: The total investment range to open a STRIDE studio is $233,900 to $493,000.
FC: What are some of the advantages/benefits of investing in a STRIDE franchise with the Xponential Fitness support behind it?
JS: STRIDE is in a really exciting position as the eighth and final brand under the Xponential Fitness family of brands. Franchise owners will be able to fully leverage the seasoned corporate team that has grown all of the brands, some of which have been specifically in fitness franchising for decades, as well as take advantage of the best practices we’ve established over the years of success and growth experienced.
As part of its parent company, Xponential Fitness, and supported by its seasoned corporate team with more than two decades in fitness franchising, STRIDE offers franchisees tremendous support, infrastructure and knowledge to ensure their success in launching and operating a franchise.
Part of what we refer to as the “X-Factor” is the ability for Xponential brands to take a first-to-market concept and leverage the existing infrastructure, technology and network that Xponential has, which will allow our franchise owners to open fast and successfully in their area.
FC: Can you tell us more about your role at STRIDE?
JS: As the president of STRIDE, I operate the day-to-day of the business – from being the face of the brand for franchise development to setting the direction for the STRIDE business model and leading the team to execute on the direction.
FC: What skills from your previous positions are most transferrable to your new position as president of STRIDE?
JS: I think that the combination of all my previous roles have positioned me perfectly to take on the responsibility of being the President of STRIDE. I have 25+ years of experience in the fitness space.
After kick-starting my career in membership sales and management at Bally’s Total Fitness in Washington D.C., I moved into the consumer research space at BARE Associates International, spearheading their fitness division. I continued building my career at Lifetime Fitness then Anytime Fitness, leading both companies to national growth, before taking on the role of Vice President of Hypoxi North America.
Having been an owner, operator, consultant, speaker, franchisee and franchisor, I am fully prepared to take on the exciting opportunity to be the President of STRIDE.
FC: How can people learn more about STRIDE and its franchising opportunities?
JS: People can learn more about STRIDE by visiting our website.