Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Despite Economic Slump, Gyms Not Throwing In Towel

“It may be called the Great Recession, but it hasn’t stopped the owners of Lady Wellness from following a decade-old dream to grow. CEO Terry Vanyo is looking to franchise the women-only fitness club nationwide. He’s already fielded some potential franchisees in California, Minnesota, Kansas and other areas of Illinois. ‘One of the reasons we did this is that we started getting a lot of phone calls from people who liked our business model,’ Vanyo said. ‘Franchising has become a big thing in our industry.’ Vanyo is right. The International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association says franchising is playing a major role in the success of the industry. Niche franchises like Curves, Snap Fitness and Anytime Fitness have opened thousands of locations, spokeswoman Kara Thompson said. Rockford has all three of those chains, which were recently named in Entrepreneur magazine’s Franchise 500 list for 2009. The publication cited fitness as one of the franchising opportunities with the most promise this year. ‘Franchising allows for the opportunity for major growth,’ Thompson said. ‘And once you have a successful business model, replicating what you’ve found to be successful makes it easier to grow and expand.’ Budget-friendly models that cater to specific demographics — like women — have found the most success, as have clubs that offer 24-hour access and low barriers to entry, like reduced or no sign-up fees and flexible contracts. Monthly dues typically range from $10 to $39 in those cases.


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