Healthy Profits

Health is a commodity of universal demand. Gareth Samuel reviews why fitness franchises with a difference are, therefore, enjoying phenomenal growth, while helping clients enjoy a better quality of life all around.

Corporate gyms have in many ways revolutionised the way in which Britain loses weight. In the years prior to the development of brightly coloured neon gyms and health centres, going to the gym was a rare occurrence. Now, because of demand, a large societal shift towards sedentary white-collar office work and a universal need of the masses to ‘look-good’, weight-loss and health is big business.

Franchising and fitness have long enjoyed a harmonious relationship. The franchising method of expansion suits the business operating procedures of gymnasiums and health clubs as the fitness demands of the general public are similar across the country. Also the fundamental necessities of a gymnasium or health club are not specific to one area or locations, enabling them to be replicated more easily through franchising.

Recently, in order to revolutionise the way in which Britons get fit, Fiona Egan launched an incredible new fitness brand in the form of sásta (see page 54). This truly innovative franchise uses patented ‘fitness pods’ which create a sealed vacuum around the runner, making exercise up to five-times as effective. The business has gone from strength to strength since it began franchising earlier this year. Fiona and her team have helped recruit outstanding and enthusiastic franchise owners across Ireland and they are looking to expand internationally.

Fiona’s success was spawned from a personal battle with fitness. “My lifelong struggle with my weight initiated my research into sásta ”, Fiona says. “I decided that it was time to find a guaranteed, sustainable solution. Since its launch in the Irish market in September 2012, sásta’s rapid expansion has seen company turnover grow by 100 per cent in the first six months of trading, with plans for a ten-fold growth in studio sales in 2014.”

The way in which sásta has become one of the most talked about businesses in Ireland – and very soon the UK – in such a short period of time is astounding. Fiona herself took the Franchising Woman of the Year Award at this year’s Irish Franchise Awards. She too is adamant that franchising suits fitness and weight loss brands perfectly.

She adds: “Developing a proven business model in the fitness and weightloss industry is expensive and time consuming requiring a lot of varied expertise so the franchise model lends itself extremely well to providing entrepreneurs the opportunity to fast track their business setup by taking on a ready made business with proven results.”

In addition to fitness businesses making an extremely attractive investment opportunity for interested entrepreneurs, the flipside of the health coin is weight loss franchises. Companies such as LighterLife and Rosemary Conley both offer a tangible service to consumers in the form of a better lifestyle in a socially inclusive environment. LighterLife actively recruits franchise owners to help inspire groups of women and men to lose weight through better eating and generally living a healthier lifestyle.

For Katrina Tansley, Westmeath LighterLife franchise owner in the Republic of Ireland, helping people through their struggle with weight loss provides huge job satisfaction. She comments: “There is no better feeling than knowing you are making a real difference to peoples lives. It’s not just the lives of our clients that improve but their families too, who benefit from their loved ones living a healthier, happier life. In my previous career I never felt the same sense of achievement as I do now, in fact I can say my life is enriched by the success of my clients and my business.”

In addition to the immense reward that comes from changing the lives of customers for the better, running a successful business, such as LighterLife, has financial reward too. Katrina adds: “We have learnt much over the last six months but it is the support of LighterLife Central Office that has been key to our success. We plan to open another satellite practice in our zone next March, based on the level of interest and enquiries from that area. We know that successful clients are walking advertisements for the programme, so success breeds success and we are both excited and confident for the future.” The weight loss industry as a whole is attracting attention from a range of different businesses too.

Recently advanced beauty specialist company, CoLaz (see page 56), has begun to explore slimming therapies and techniques to incorporate into the business to respond to consumer demands – the sign of a truly progressive business.

Manroop Ahitan of CoLaz told The Franchise Magazine earlier this year: “We are seeing a lot of demand for slimming treatments and so we are looking at new ways to bring this into our business.” CoLaz now offers its customers a cellulite removal service via state-of-the-art slimming machines that do not require physical exertion from the customer.

Franchise investors up and down the country are becoming increasingly aware of franchise opportunities in this sector – particularly as the post-Christmas fitness frenzy approaches. sásta franchise owners are testament to this development. Fiona adds: “sásta franchise owners have invested in their sásta franchise due to their passion and determination to improve the lives of people by motivating them to achieve their weight loss and fitness goals. Through sásta, franchise owners have gained a greater understanding of the importance of combining exercise with good nutrition and are personally healthier and fitter from using sásta. They love what they do and going to work is exciting, making it natural for them to have a strong desire to succeed and provide excellent customer service in a positive environment.”

The underpinning force behind this trend is a society-wide need to keep healthy. Technology has made our lives easier across the board and so physical activity is no longer a necessary part of the day – Health and fitness are commodities that will always be in demand to some extent. Buying into one of the UK’s premium health brands, like CoLaz, LighterLife or sásta , therefore, is likely to be a shrewd investment that saves lives in the long term.