Ladies Workout Express: Achieve the figures of your dreams

Ladies Workout Express is rapidly expanding its UK and Ireland network with another five franchisees opening gyms during March, discovers Rachel Spaul

Rising obesity levels and growing concerns over poor health and fitness are driving the ongoing success of ladies only 30-minute fitness franchise Ladies Workout Express. Its distinct offering to women wanting a tailored fitness programme in a women-only environment is achieving a higher than average membership retention rate and creating profitable businesses for franchisees.

Founded in the US, Ladies Workout Express has enjoyed rapid growth in the UK and Ireland under the guidance of Chris Donaldson, Master Franchisee. 'We have recently opened a Ladies Workout Express gym in Bangor, which had 400 appointments in its first week and with a further three in Dublin and one in Preston opening soon,' Chris relates.

'The franchise system is fine-tuned with 20 years of experience behind it and over 1,000 outlets globally. Franchisees who are most successful replicate the proven system with dedication and commitment. Our Ladies Workout Express gyms in the UK and Ireland are a demonstration of successful growth and development.' Ladies Workout Express has its finger on the pulse when it comes to what women want from their local fitness centre.

'Ladies Workout Express was one of the first companies to recognise that women have different needs to men when it comes to achieving fitness goals,' Chris furthers. 'Traditional gyms do not offer the comfortable environment and level of support that most women need. Consequently, up to 80 per cent of our target customer base has never gone regularly to a gym.'

Galway franchisee Linda Barrett sums up: 'The concept sells itself to women who are 35+. These are women who like to work out in a non-competitive environment, feel comfortable in their surroundings and who like the fact that it is only a half an hour session.'

The foundation of the concept is the 24-station circuit of hydraulic equipment and aerobic stations. The 30-minute workout performs a total body strength training and aerobic workout. Linda adds: 'The quality of the workout regime means that customers get better value for money - they don't reach a plateau, which means they stay members for longer.'

In fact, Ladies Workout Express boasts a 75 per cent membership renewal rate, so the business enjoys excellent client retention when managed properly. 'While our gyms are 'women only', men are equally suited to owning and managing a Ladies Workout Express franchise,' Chris assures. 'Most franchisees start by managing the business themselves and as the business grows appoint a manager to run the gym on a day-to-day basis. They then oversee the business and have the opportunity to open another gym if they wish. This franchise offers a serious opportunity to build a business to very interesting levels of profitability.' Owned by the Lady of America Franchise Corporation, the US chain of full-service women only fitness centres, Ladies Workout Express franchisees enjoy the backing of a major franchise organisation and the hands-on local support of the UK and Ireland Master Franchisee. 'The ongoing support is very good, both from the US head office and the UK and Ireland Master Franchisee, which means that if you follow the procedure, it's very difficult to go wrong,' Linda insists.

For an initial investment of £12,000 franchisees receive a five-day training course at the Florida head office covering all aspects of the business model, followed by a further week with the UK team in their own gym becoming competent with the operational method.

This is complemented by ongoing support including free refresher training in Florida, regional training programmes, in-field support, ongoing research and development, annual conference, website, newsletter plus much more.

For more ambitious franchisees with more capital available for an initial investment of £40,000 you can buy a turnkey package, which includes the complete fit out of your gym from the carpets and computers through to the equipment. 'We will literally hand you the keys to your own gym fitted out and ready for trading,' Chris clarifies.

Although previous fitness industry experience is not needed, franchisees need enthusiasm and passion for maintaining personal fitness, good communication skills, a desire to deliver excellent services to members and a commitment to following the Ladies Workout Express proven system. 'We have a passion to make a significant contribution to improving the health and fitness of ladies,' Chris concludes.
'This is a very satisfying business and we look forward to building our franchise organisation with people who share our passion.'

On the eve of the start of their training in the US, Anthony Foster and Margaret Walsh give their reasons for becoming Ladies Workout Express franchisees.

Anthony Foster - Preston, Lancashire

'I've worked in the fitness industry for 16 years, I currently have a product sales business. I did a lot of research so was well versed in what was available. I visited Karen Pheasant in Swindon and saw Ladies Workout Express in operation - it's fresh, appeals to all ages, shapes and sizes. Ladies only workout is a big market, larger clubs are good at getting members but the retention rate is bad so there's a gaping hole for people like me with vision and entrepreneurial tendencies to develop a good business. I visited Chris Donaldson in Lisburn and was impressed by his enthusiasm to take the business to a new level. It's an exciting time for the company in America and Chris is making a significant investment to push the UK network forward. I'm expecting to break even within six months of opening my gym, aim to have 500 members within the first year and plan to expand into more sites.

This is a great opportunity for me. There's no other ladies only workout facilities in the city and I have a prime site that's just over 2,000sqft with lots of character and parking.'

Margaret Walsh - Celbridge, County Kildare

'I saw the concept while living in the States and thought it would be a business that would take off in Ireland. I've always wanted to work for myself and after looking at many different franchises found this one to be right for me - it's fast and effective with varied workouts. The company is easy to work with, the support is great especially from existing franchisees.

The company provides everything you need to get the business off the ground. I've secured 1,800sqft premises on the Dublin road in Celbridge. There was a lot of improvements to be carried out to the premises, which were carried out by my husband Brian. This helped save a lot with our setup costs. In researching Celbridge I found there was a real need for a ladies only gym and little competition. The population is developing from all angles and I already have plans to open a second gym sometime next year. My family and friends have been very supportive and they will be helping out in the business initially.

By the end of the year I hope to have over 500 members and will have full-time staff in place. So far, it's been a challenge but very exciting and I've had a great reception from Celbridge residents.'