2020 has not been kind to most businesses, and gyms are no exception. But consumers are still eager for opportunities to exercise. A new study from the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health says that 45 minutes of vigorous exercise per day can significantly reduce negative emotions during the pandemic.
Thankfully, many gym brands have pivoted their offerings to remain engaged with members and keep revenue flowing. Here are ten of small but growing fitness franchises that have proven particularly well-equipped to weather the COVID storm, suggesting they may be lucrative investments for anyone looking to break into the industry.
Unit count: 16+
USA Ninja Challenge is a fun franchise for kids with a lot of energy. The brand offers obstacle courses that incorporate skillsets from gymnastics, climbing, cross training, and track & field. Locations cater to children from ages 4 to 18, and design programs to meet the needs of individual age groups to develop overall athleticism. Obstacle courses include, but are not limited to, balance beams, slacklines, traverse walls and cargo nets. For franchisees interested in the brand, start-up time typically takes about six months and includes training from corporate.
Unit count: 2+
AWATfit (or Any Where Any Time Fitness) was founded by international fitness enthusiast, Rich Decker. The mobile gym franchise runs on trucks with built-in equipment allowing people to workout in the great outdoors. AWAT’s method is to bring the gym to you; their trucks have workout stations that address strength, flexibility, core, agility and cardio. The brand is perfect for any fitness enthusiasts who are worried about COVID-19 in the confinement of a traditional brick-and-mortar facility.
Units: 41+ (in development)
Fans of boxing champ Floyd Mayweather need to check out this brand. The fitness franchise is a high-intensity fitness experience developed by Mayweather himself, and seeks to foster an inclusive environment. Mayweather’s program is a perfect combination of boxing, strength and cardio conditioning that are designed to give you a full-body workout and, as in their motto, release your inner champ.
REGYMEN Fitness* is a high-energy, boutique fitness studio with three platforms: Burn, focusing on cardio and weights; Box, focusing on power punching and core work; and Build, focusing on compound movements and explosive cardio. The brand’s classes track heart rate and use analytics to help members set goals while giving them real-time access to the progress of their workout. REGYMEN is perfect for potential buyers looking to get into a fitness business that values tracking progress and fostering a team environment.
Digme, which is named for the beach in Hawaii that holds the start line for the famous Ironman World Championship, is a high intensity program-focused franchise that aims to provide regimens for exercise fanatics. Digme offers both in-person studio training and digital, remote training that’s been essential in the COVID-19 atmosphere. Though there are only currently six units in the UK, Digme Fitness is looking for master franchisees outside of London and in primary cities internationally.
Established in 2016, the boutique fitness franchise makes group fitness accessible and impactful through their simplistic model: rowing. With rowing machines as the central activity of exercise, members know exactly what they’re getting every time. Workouts are low-impact and high-calorie burners, and are accessible to any age or ability. The brand also provides supplementary training with suspension bands, kettlebells, and slam balls to round out the experience.
As the official provider of USA Swimming, SwimLabs provides training and lessons for all ages. Kids are invited to take swim lessons from beginner to advanced, and adults can train with professional coaches who have experience training swimmers competitively — whether it be for Masters Swimming or IronMan competitions. The franchise also offers instant video feedback to get swimming techniques down-pat and avoids hosting large class sizes to provide individual attention. Not to mention, chlorine is a safe bet in the era of COVID-19.
Fitness isn’t just about high-intensity workouts; for those looking to enhance their flexibility, Kika Stretch Studios might be the right opportunity. The franchise provides 60-minute one-on-one gentle assisted stretching sessions with a highly trained therapist that aims to help members experience more energy and relief in their lives. The Kika Method© was developed to help people move and feel the natural way that bodies were designed to function. For any fitness-enthusiasts who have struggled with movement and flexibility, Kika might be the right center for you.
Tapout Fitness was founded in 2014 and is growing at a rapid rate. Though the franchise boasts 22 official locations, there are currently 33 more in development. The fitness center offers boxing, kickboxing, boot camp and high intensity interval training (HIIT) classes, as well as a progressive belt-ranking martial arts program designed for all ages. Tapout is built on the idea of community and fosters a competitive-but-friendly environment for all its members. Aside from their group classes, Tapout features personal training that’s perfect for the COVID-19 environment.
real hot yoga is a boutique yoga studio that provides the yoga experience in a heated studio to stimulate body detoxification and relax muscles. Their business model was developed on a community-minded premise, aiming to help clients find their confidence, sense of peace, gratitude, and empowerment. The brand believes in making yoga accessible for everyone, so for those who have not tried yoga before, this might be the right opportunity.
If you’re thinking about owning a franchise, it might be in your best interest to keep an eye on these brands while they’re still growing.