Data from Statista says the North American fitness market had an estimated size of more than $28 billion in 2015, of which 90 percent was attributable to the United States. The U.S. brings in more fitness and health club revenue than anywhere else in the world and has the most active members too.
According to Joel Libava of TheFranchiseKing.com, there are more than 60 different fitness-related franchise opportunities to choose from, as he wrote in an SBA.gov article earlier this month.
If you’re exploring the franchise world, owning a franchise in fitness could be a profitable choice if it’s already your passion. And “fitfluential” customer service strategies might be a key ingredient to long-term success. The word “fitfluencer” is exactly what it sounds like: an influencer (or an influential brand) with a focus on fitness.
In a market as big as this, there’s adequate room for niche specialties, franchises, personal brands and there’s even overlap if you get creative on social. While relationships are important in any business, one-on-one encouragement stands out in fitness and, for small businesses, it can be the difference between having a long-term customer who advocates for your brand and a customer who doesn’t want to renew.
Small Business Trends connected with Shannon Hudson of 9Round kickboxing to get a better sense of the brand and its niche as a fitness franchise.
Shannon “The Cannon” Hudson, founder and CEO of 9Round Franchising, LLC, is the former IKF Light Middleweight Kickboxing Champion of the World. Hudson began martial arts at the age of seven and has continued training ever since, including with legendary boxing trainer Xavier Biggs. He has a 5th degree Black Belt in Japanese Shotokan Karate and a 4th Degree Black Belt under Joe Lewis’s Fighting System JLFS.
After over 70 bouts inside the ring, competing in Canada and Europe, Hudson could not find a place where the average person could learn the training secrets of pro fighters. So, the vision for 9Round was born. Hudson decided to transform the grueling boxing and kickboxing workouts of the pros into a non-intimidating, convenient circuit workout format the average person could enjoy. Now, 10 years later, 9Round has more than 700 locations worldwide. Hudson is still fully involved in the day-to-day operations of the business and constantly works to bring the best support to 9Round franchisees and the best workout experience to 9Round members.
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Small Business Trends: How have fitfluencers and social media affecting the fitness industry?
Shannon Hudson: Both have helped the fitness industry grow by deepening the way we communicate with our audiences. We are now able to continually encourage and guide our community towards their goals both inside and outside of the club. This strengthens our relationships and allows members to see results at a faster pace. In addition, fitfluencers are providing authenticity and widening our audience reach by communicating real results and interacting with followers on their own social channels.
Small Business Trends: What makes a fitness franchise successful?
Shannon Hudson: There are two key elements to making a fitness franchise successful. One is motivation. It’s important our franchise owners are joining 9Round for the right reasons. Our owners must be motivated by their passion for fitness and not just seeking monetary reward. We want our owners to be able to share their health and fitness interests with the community, as well as dedicate their business to helping members reach their goals. Second is relationships. At 9Round, we focus on selling relationships, not just a gym membership, so it’s important our franchise owners love people and see the value in building strong relationships. By interacting with members on a personal level, 9Round sets itself apart from traditional gyms and allows owners to be fully invested in their business.
Small Business Trends: How do your national franchisees differ from your international ones? With over 700 locations worldwide, I assume there are differences.
Shannon Hudson: Typically, 9Round remains exactly the same no matter the country because the workout and business model are easy to adapt. The only subtle differences that may occur would be a result of a cultural or climate difference. For example, in the US, our clubs have a smaller footprint including the workout space, an administrative area, and a bathroom; in the Middle East, locker rooms for changing and showering are required. In Japan, since there is not an obesity concern, like there is here in the US, the program is marketed as a “30 Minute Stress Buster,” rather than for weight loss.
We anticipate small adjustments, like the ones mentioned above, to continue to be adaptations we will have to make as we expand to cultures that differ from our own. However, we plan to remain true to our core product and will not alter that, as it makes sense in every international market we enter.
Small Business Trends: If someone is interested in joining the 9Round franchise family, what are some initial things they should be aware of?
Shannon Hudson: 9Round franchises are a popular investment due to the low startup cost and winning fitness concept. The average total investment is between $91,600 and $133,200, compared to traditional gyms, which typically require expensive equipment, such as treadmills and weight machines. In addition, 9Round only requires a max of four-five employees and operates in a low rent space of 1500 square feet. 9Round appeals to young professionals, fitness enthusiasts, parents and anyone looking for a fast and effective workout. 9Round eliminates class times and time constraints, allowing members to walk into the club whenever they find time and engage in a full-body workout in just 30 minutes.
Images: 9Round Franchising