Fitness business owners face many decisions in today’s competitive fitness business landscape. One option that often arises for people looking to grow their businesses is franchising, and with good reason. According to the US Commercial Service, franchise businesses are responsible for a whopping $674.3 billion of economic output for the US economy and represent three percent of the GDP. 

This doesn’t mean, however, that franchising is right for every operation. Here’s a closer look at the topic of franchising, along with tips for deciding whether it’s the right move for your fitness business.

What Is a Franchise? 

“Franchising is a method for expanding a business and distributing goods and services through a licensing relationship,” explains the US Commercial Service. It consists of two primary components: the franchisor, which bestows the rights to conduct business under its trademark while specifying which products and services will be offered along with providing operating system and brand support; and the franchisee, the person to whom these rights are granted, and who pays the franchiser fees in exchange for these rights. 

While we often think of franchises in the context of food service across everything from fast food restaurants to convenience stores, fitness businesses are increasingly entering into these potentially lucrative business ventures. 

Is Franchising Right For You?

Operating a successful business is certainly a good starting point if you’re considering whether or not to franchise. Attorney Joseph L. Hiersteiner, who specializes in assisting franchisors and franchisees with business and disclosure issues at Seigfreid, Bingham, Levy, Selzer & Gee, told IDEAFit, “Franchisors are generally entrepreneurs who nurtured and cared for a business for years before thinking about franchising. Through trial and error, [they] have learned what it takes to make a specific business successful.” 

However, this isn’t a recipe for automatic success. Hiersteiner points out that running a successful business is very different than teaching and training other people to do the same. The takeaway? If you’re not prepared to provide adequate business support to your franchisees, trouble may be ahead. 

Franchising is not a good fit for every type of fitness business with an eye on expansion. Added Steve Beatty, vice president of franchise development for Curves for Women, “If you’re looking to have just a few locations in a small area, then franchising, with its heavy legal and regulatory costs, is not the expansion vehicle of choice.” 

When Franchising Succeeds

All of this begs the question, which businesses are best positioned to succeed when it comes to franchising? The answer is simple, according to experts. It is those businesses with “staying power.” In addition to having the financial resources to weather expansion, this also means finding your niche. 

“The biggest challenge in franchising a fitness company is to find that niche in the fitness industry that will stand the test of time. The fitness industry has many large and well-established franchises. It is a very competitive environment,” continues Beatty. 


In an interview with Forbes on her successful Club Pilates franchises, Katya Stromblad reiterated this perspective, “The first, and for me most important, reason I gravitated to Pilates was because I believe in what it does and unlike some fitness concepts, it is not a fad. This is the type of service I would be able to stand behind and be proud of and would be taking classes myself.”

A well thought-out business model is also essential, and consists of three primary steps, according to Beatty: 

  • Refining your business model
  • Understanding your target market and the franchising process
  • Replicating your systems so that they can be learned and copied 

Without these infrastructure elements in place, your future as a franchisor may stall before it even starts. 

That said, franchising can lead to profound payoffs for business ideas positioned to succeed. Stroller Strides LLC founder and CEO Lisa Druxman told IDEAFit, “Other advantages [of franchising] are growing your brand through motivated franchisees, group purchasing power and marketing power. It is much easier to get great exposure when you have franchisees around the country touting your brand.” 

Speaking of positioning your business to succeed, wearable technology can also play a vital role in member recruitment and retention. Request a demo to learn more about what the Accurofit System can do for your fitness business.