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Fitness Franchise Flexes its Muscle

Fitness Snap caters to those who like to work out without the circus atmosphere.

This story appears in the March 2010 issue of Start Up.

After two decades working among the sweating, Spandex-clad masses, Peter Taunton was finished with the big-box health club scene. So after selling his stake in a chain of large clubs, Taunton set out to build a different kind of fitness facility, one that would cater to people who prefer to work out sans the circus atmosphere. Six years and more than 1,900 stores later, Taunton's Snap Fitness is among America's fastest-growing franchises, proof that his concept--small, neighborhood-oriented clubs emphasizing affordability, convenience and cleanliness--resonates with the exercising public.

It stands to reason that a fitness club concept developed by a former racquetball pro and self-described "court rat" would at least include racquetball courts. But Taunton, 48, purposely excluded such amenities from the Snap Fitness business model because, he explains, when it comes to health clubs, "people for the most part want to get in, get out and get on with their lives. I've seen what members use most at a club, and it's not the pool, the racquetball courts, the aerobic studios or the climbing walls. Those sit idle most of the time."

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