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Perfect Fit

These creative fitness businesses shaped up into franchises.

Although over 42.7 million Americans have health-club memberships, on average, they go to the gym less than eight times a month, according to the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association. Several new fitness franchises are finding unique ways to motivate their members to not just sign up, but also show up.

Battle of the Bulge
Todd Scott of Platoon Fitness has been known to go to the home or workplace of a Platoon client who's AWOL, staging a workout in the driveway or parking lot and shouting the MIA cadet's name. Scott launched Platoon Fitness--a daily boot camp-style fitness regime done outdoors year-round, rain or shine--from his basement in 1999. Daily contact and feedback create an encouraging rapport between the instructors and trainees, who pay per month, not per session. "It delivers results because of the camaraderie and cultlike atmosphere," says Scott, who gives members their money back if the program doesn't work for them. In 2006, the company started franchising to aspiring drill sergeants looking to offer an alternative to stuffy megagyms. To start, Platoon franchisees only need to rent public park space for an hour or so each day and recruit customers looking for in-your-face motivation. The franchise opportunity is low-cost and initially home based, with the option to grow into a brick-and-mortar personal training center. --E.W.

Group Effort
The success of NBC's The Biggest Loser has shown the power that teamwork and competition have in motivating people to change their lives. Now a new franchise is harnessing that power to make reality show results a reality for people across the nation. Team Spirit Fitness Centers' vice president Michael McConnell explains that, after studying the fitness industry, it became clear that "the component most places were missing was a support system outside the facility." The company started in 2007 to help clients create that vital support system. In addition to working out and learning about nutrition, Team Spirit clients form teams of four to six people with similar health goals. The teams then compete against each other every three months, using weigh-ins to decide who will win prizes such as free memberships, gift certificates and even cash. More important, team members are encouraged to set up meetings outside the gym for support and to hold each other accountable so their fitness goals don't fall by the wayside when they walk out the door. --T.S.

Health Education
Fitwize 4 Kids is more than just a gym for kids--it's "a place they can call their own," where they can "let their stress out in a place that's noncompetitive," says founder Warren Gendel, who started franchising the concept in 2005. In addition to obstacle courses, agility training and circuit workouts on equipment made especially for kids, Fitwize 4 Kids offers nutrition workshops to promote an all-around healthy lifestyle, including nutrition homework aimed at getting parents involved. The centers also train student athletes to avoid injuries. Fitwize's mission is to engage all children ages 6-and-a-half to 15 not only with incentive programs to keep them coming in and working out, but also with education about the lifelong benefits of fitness and a proper diet, which they can carry into adulthood. --E.W.

Tracy Stapp Herold is the special projects editor at Entrepreneur magazine. She works on franchise and business opportunity stories and listings, including the annual Franchise 500.

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This article was originally published in the February 2008 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Perfect Fit.

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