With fitness franchising rapidly growing in an industry worth nearly £5 billion, modern, progressive gyms and studios must understand what their communities and their members want and need when using their facilities. And as we are reminded of the importance of the concept of ‘community’ amid economic and political unrest, there has never been a better time for fitness brands to affirm their position as devoted, community-focused service providers. Here, Cameron Falloon, founder of the progressive, innovative global fitness franchise, Body Fit Training, discusses the importance of meeting the demands and needs of a local community when it comes to fitness franchising.
Consumers are still ‘taking the leap’
Despite seeing years of growing popularity in the fitness industry, for many, the idea of going to a gym and taking that all-important ‘first step’ in a fitness journey is terrifying. In fact, it is reported that a staggering 50% of non-gym goers still find the idea of going to the gym scary1. And it is for this very reason that fitness franchises still have as much responsibility as ever to appeal to and reach out to their respective communities. Assuring those who are apprehensive should always be a priority for the development and progression of fitness franchises, with everyone needing the occasional reminder that, like in business, no service should be feared and we all start somewhere.
But taking the leap no longer means simply taking the first step, as more than ever, communities all over the UK are seeing incredibly fast-growing competition in the fitness industry. Fitness franchises now have the task of convincing their communities that their studio is the best option for them, with community spirit and understanding a local market key elements to success in the industry today. There are currently over 7,000 health and fitness studios in the UK. Only Germany has more in the whole of Europe2, making the UK fitness industry one of the continent’s ‘hotspots’ as more brands capitalise on growing popularity and demand for expert, bespoke fitness services. The market size of the gyms and fitness centres industry is expected to increase by 33.3% in 20223, demonstrating the vital need for fitness brands to appeal to the heart of the communities in which they operate to stand out from the rest.
Service with a smile
The fundamentals to service provision can never be discounted, regardless of the industry in question. In every industry around the world, being able to offer service with a smile is priceless. It is vital that local studios can prove their willingness to go the extra mile for their communities, and that their service is not simply a carbon copy of a franchise that can be accessed from anywhere in the UK. As consumers all over the country continue to readapt to life as ‘normal’ and the popularity of fitness studios grows, it is imperative that trainers and staff are more attentive than ever to the needs and feelings of those who use their facilities.
The definition of community, in this context, is equally applicable to the fitness franchise model. While an understanding of the community in which a studio operates is important, that community spirit and supportive environment should be visible in the service offered. ‘Service with a smile’ is one thing, but applying those values to how a fitness franchise is perceived and runs is vital towards building a successful service offering. More than just a workout, members today should be welcomed into a unique community environment that builds lasting friendships and networks while having fun.
The need for community-focused fitness franchises is constantly being reinforced. With progression in the industry helping services become more specialised through science, research and technology, consumers reaffirm the need to understand why specific studios meet specific requirements. Fitness franchises have the unique task of becoming established in locations where consumers understand their need for particular training and services.
While we can all enjoy similar foods, leisure activities and more, the diversity of outcomes consumers seek from fitness brands today are heavily dependent on location, experience and accessibility. The recent launch of BFT Leicester demonstrated this, as the first BFT studio to land on UK shores celebrated 175 members joining in its first weekend. As a person-centred fitness franchise still finding its feet in the UK, our commitment to reaching out to the individual members of the communities in which we open our doors will always be our priority.
1Dr. Margee Kerr, 2019, FEELING SCARED OF THE GYM? YOU’RE NOT ALONE
2Christina Gough, 2021, Fitness industry in the United Kingdom (UK) – statistics & facts
3IbisWorld, 2022, Gyms & Fitness Centres in the UK – Market Size 2011–2029