SuperFranchise covers the franchises that everyone’s talking about, the businesses with an extra edge of swagger, style, or infamy. The big investments, the dazzling brands, the social media superstars, the companies everyone in franchising should know.
- F45 Training is one of the fastest growing and most hyped fitness franchises in the world.
- A business model built around intense routines, self-surveillance, and community building has improved the health of both customers and business.
- F45 does not provide information about average revenues for its franchises, but may provide actual figures for a specific outlet to someone who is considering buying it.
Founded in Australia in 2011, F45 Training has grown enormously in its first decade. One of the most hyped fitness franchises in the world, it has over 1,500 locations in 45 countries. As of 2019, over six million members were using its clubs.
The company was founded in 2011 by two entrepreneurs, Adam Gilchrist and former equities trader Rob Deutsch, in Sydney, Australia. They designed the chain to fill a gap in the market between personal training, with its high costs, and commercial gyms, where people often weren’t getting the results they wanted. The aim was to create a fun environment that reached a mass audience.
Celebrity endorsements have helped F45 grab the world’s attention. It has been hyped by the likes of Mark Wahlberg, who has praised the atmosphere of the company’s gyms, and David Beckham, who is an investor in the company and a partner in one of its London studios. It was singled out by Fast Company as one of the most innovative wellness companies of 2020, has survived the setback of the COVID-19 pandemic, and continues to be one of the highest profile gyms in the world.
Building Hype by Building Bodies
F45 has reached a big audience by making workouts simple, effective, and enjoyable. The central component is a 45-minute circuit routine. These workouts are designed by some of the world’s most accomplished trainers and distributed by the central company. No two are the same, variety preventing boredom from setting in among customers.
Though there are two trainers at every session, TVs provide the instructions, keeping people on track through long and varied workouts. Participants can use the LionHeart wireless heart rate monitor, bought form the company, to manage their routine. The monitor interacts with the TVs to give participants live heartrate data, so they can keep up a high intensity heartrate. Tracking software lets everyone monitor and improve their performance.
F45 studios offer a range of long-term challenges, which promise physical transformation, prizes, and the recognition of fellow gym-goers as motivation. Meal planning and calorie tracking are managed through an app, to help customers get the most out of their membership, and to embed F45 in their wider lives.
Turning Gym Work Into Teamwork
F45 uses social drivers to keep customers motivated. There are no mirrors, no scales, no judgments. Instead, F45’s style is built on team spirit, something that’s often missing from gyms. Gilchrist has emphasized the company’s community focus, and trainers make an effort to help their customers connect. Supporting and challenging each other, sharing complaints about the challenges, is part of what makes F45 so appealing. Knowing you’re not alone makes it easier to endure the strains of self-improvement.
There’s a friendly vibe to an F45 studio, lots of high fives and bonding, people comparing performance and calories burned. It’s competition, but not the bitter sort. Talking in the gym or through WhatsApp groups makes participants feel like others have their back.
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There’s even a global element. The 45-minute sessions are the same all around world, and people compare achievements and encouragement on social media. Hashtags keep people motivated during the company’s set 8-week challenge, and there are festivals where gyms compete against each other.
This is paying off in a big way, both for the company and for its customers. Around the world, people normally attend their gyms once a month, while F45’s customers regularly turn up three times a week.
A Healthy Business for Healthy People
For an entrepreneur looking to enter the fitness market, F45 has a lot of advantages. The company crams plenty of equipment into a relatively small, stripped back space. Centrally designed workouts benefit from the research and expertise of the company’s central team.
Technology is used to gamify the exercise experience, but also to create convenience for customers. Making it easy to book, attend, and track performance reduces the chances of someone giving up on F45. Customers receive immediate feedback through an email at the end of the session, giving data on their performance, which motivates them to return. With monitoring, diet advice, and social media engagement, the company can become a whole lifestyle, with dedicated fans.
Costs for membership and pricing models vary, giving franchisees some flexibility. High pricing is part of the strategy. Once someone has committed a high payment to attend a gym, they’re more likely to attend, to justify the cost. Clients stick around for 18 months on average, despite paying as much as 12 times more than for competitors.
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F45 is particularly popular among millennials and college students, especially women, and this means that it’s going to be more successful in some areas than others. Still, there’s plenty of room for growth. Deutsch has plans to see thousands more F45s open around the world. A successful 2021 IPO gave the company a financial boost, and some of that money is being turned toward expansion.
Deutsch himself has described F45 as a cult-like environment. It doesn’t just provide a space to exercise. It provides a way of living that plugs its customers into a community. In a market like gyms, where customers often feel isolated, that cult-like model of high fives and shared heartrate data is proving scarily popular.