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The 9 best gym franchise investment opportunities this year

gym franchise

Whether you’re a fitness fanatic or always dreamed of opening your own fitness studio, investing in a gym franchise is a natural route for some. While starting a brand new gym can be incredible and rewarding, investing in a gym franchise can be a less risky way to jump into the fitness industry. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy. It takes a ton of work and effort to create a successful gym business, whether it’s a franchise or not. 

A gym franchise isn’t a sure thing to success, but you are accessing an established business model and blueprint with an existing customer base. All of that is hugely valuable. Fitness is a lifestyle for many and you can see that in the way the industry has remained resilient throughout the pandemic. Investing in a fitness franchise has the potential to be a lucrative venture.

In this article, we look at what exactly a gym franchise is, the current state of the fitness industry and list 9 of the best gym franchise opportunities this year. 

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What is a gym franchise? 

A gym franchise is a business that has an established owner called the franchisor. The franchisor sells the rights for you to use their business model, company name, and trademarks to operators known as franchisees. Generally, you will pay a one-off fee to invest into a franchise and then pay ongoing fees from a percentage of the revenue. Typically, investing in a gym franchise would give you access to:

  • Mentorship and franchisee support 
  • Training
  • Marketing strategy and materials 
  • Business plan 
  • Proven concept 

Fitness franchises range massively in size, prize, and type. You can find a franchise in most fitness niches such as personal trainer services or group training, so you can align your interests to your business. From boutique fitness and kickboxing gyms to big-box 24-hour fitness studios and Pilates, there’s a ton of variety in gym franchising. 

Becoming a gym franchisee is well suited to an individual with entrepreneurial spirit, but perhaps doesn’t have the time or finances for a start-up. They are ready to start their own business but want to avoid the trial and error of creating fitness brands from the bottom up. 

The state of the gym franchise industry in 2022 

​​The US gym and fitness franchise industry contributes $3 billion to the greater gym, health, and fitness club sector. The four biggest players in the gym and franchise industry are Orangetheory Fitness, Anytime Fitness, Planet Fitness, and Snap Fitness. In the years before 2019, large gym franchise businesses have looked to make a bigger splash in the market by acquiring smaller businesses. Anytime Fitness acquired PumpOne, a virtual coaching personal mobile training service, that allowed the company to boost profits by cutting back on staff. 

Despite the effects of the COVID-19 crisis, the fitness industry remains rife with opportunities. Like many industries, the fitness sector lost billions in revenue in 2019 with temporary closures and restricted capacity. But the industry is set for a strong comeback as more people prioritize health and fitness in the wake of the pandemic. There’s a clear desire to get back to fitness, the gym, and the fitness community. 

While some gyms and health clubs have experienced permanent closures, other fitness businesses are seeing gym membership levels go beyond pre-pandemic levels. With the expansion of hybrid gyms and digital fitness solutions, members are looking to work out when and where they want. 

Businesses able to shift and adapt during the pandemic have benefitted from increased membership and profits. For example, during the COVID-19 crisis in peak lockdown, Crunch Fitness switched to providing online fitness for members while empowering new franchisees with additional support. The brand worked to nurture its online community and engage with members digitally. 

For expert insight, listen to Todd Wadler, the current CEO of Title Boxing on the Fitness Founders Podcast. Todd talks about key lessons learned from growing a fitness franchise. Title Boxing now has over 150 locations with an industry-leading boxing franchise concept.  

Investing in a fitness franchise vs owning 

If you’re considering opening a gym or starting a fitness business, there tend to be two main options. You could invest in a franchise or launch an independently-owned business. Both routes have their own pros and cons. The best path for your business will depend on a few different factors. Both options can lead to successful and rewarding businesses. 

The opportunities within the fitness franchising world are practically limitless. There’s a broad range of gyms, entry fees, niches, and businesses to consider. You can perfectly align your love of Barre with Pure Barre or indoor cycling with CycleBar. When it comes to choosing between fitness franchising or owning an independent business, the main influencing factors are personal autonomy and support. If you want to be your own boss and make every decision within the business from which gym management software you use to your logo design, then owning an independent business is the way to go. While franchisees control many elements of the business, it’s not the same as being a business owner. 

The other main factor to consider is support. Franchises offer ongoing support to franchise locations including training, mentorship, and industry knowledge. Franchise owners are highly invested in your success because it’s good for the overall franchise business. You can receive steady support from getting off the ground to your marketing strategies. While other factors play a role in choosing between a gym franchise or an independent business, these two elements are very important when making the decision. 

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The 9 best gym franchise opportunities in 2022 

If this is the year you open a gym franchise, you have several investment opportunities to consider. The best choice for you will depend on your passion, experience, capital, and location. Here are nine of the best fitness franchise opportunities in 2022 and the fees you can expect to pay to access the business. 

1. Anytime Fitness 

Anytime Fitness is known for its 24/7 gym access at affordable prices. They aim to create a welcoming environment with rows of cardio and exercise equipment for a friendly workout to get your heart rate pumping. Anytime Fitness is one of the largest gym franchises with over four million members worldwide and 4,700 territories. The total initial investment ranges from $98,430 – $523,824

Despite current industry challenges, Anytime Fitness still has a strong global presence and large membership base as well as growth plans. Anytime Fitness states that its ongoing fees are considerably lower than other franchises. Instead of paying fees based on total sales, they charge a one-off $42,500 franchise fee and ongoing monthly payment of $699. 

2. Planet Fitness 

When it comes to potential gym franchise opportunities, no doubt Planet Fitness will make it to the list. The traditional gym brand is a consistently high performer and has a large worldwide presence. Planet Fitness strives to create a judgment-free zone for members to work out and meet their wellness and fitness goals. 

Starting in 1992, they started franchising later in 2003. Now, Planet Fitness has over 2,000 locations across 50 states with more than 15 million members. The total initial investment for Planet Fitness ranges from  $700,000 to $3.8 Million and requires $3 million with $1.5 million in liquid capital to move forward. The franchise fee is $10,000 and the franchise requires a 5% royalty fee on all sales. When joining the franchise, franchisees are provided with training and then ongoing support to help build the business.

3. Gold’s Gym 

Gold’s Gym is a well-known name in the industry for its bodybuilding culture and strength training equipment. The brand also comes with a pretty high price tag with an initial investment ranging from $2,218,250 to $5,000,500 with a franchise fee of $40,000 for a 35,000 SQ FT gym. Gold’s Gym was founded in 1965 and now there are over 700 locations all over the world with a 3 million-strong membership base. In 2020, the RSG Group acquired Gold’s Gym into its portfolio, making it a global leader in the fitness industry. 

4. Crunch Fitness 

Similar to Planet Fitness, Crunch Fitness is based on creating a judgment-free, friendly, and welcoming workout space. The brand tends to take a lighthearted and fun approach to its marketing and overall feel. Currently, Crunch Fitness has over 350 open locations with commitments to open a further 1,500 locations. 

You can find Crunch Fitness in five countries and 30 states with more than 1.5 million members. The brand consistently ranks as one of the top franchises to invest in and has weathered pretty well during the tough times of the pandemic. To invest in Crunch Fitness, you need an initial investment of between $304,500 and $2,129,500, not including the cost of real estate. Also, you need a combined $1 million net worth with at least $300,000-$400,000 in liquid capital. 

5. Snap Fitness 

Snap Fitness uses the 24/7 access gym model to create an inclusive environment. With a global presence of over 1,000 locations in more than 20 countries, Snap Fitness has millions of members worldwide. The brand aims to offer returns on investment and the lowest investment possible. 

The initial investment for Snap Fitness is between $145,258 – $479,996 and financial requirements include $125,000+ liquid assets and $250,000+ net worth. Snap Fitness is a global leader in the fitness franchise industry with a focus on providing the best equipment and value-added services to achieve member results. 

6. Burn Boot Camp 

Burn Boot Camp gives franchisees a more affordable option to the fitness industry. In 2021, Burn Boot Camp climbed to #90 of the Entrepreneur’s Franchise 500 rankings, its third consecutive year on the list. As one of the fastest-growing fitness concepts, the brand has over 250 locations across 38 states. A relatively new brand on the fitness scene, Burn Boot Camp has been franchising for more than five years. Burn Boot Camp requires a total initial investment of $148,830 to $353,150 with a royalty fee of 6% and a franchise fee of $40,000. 

7. UFC Gym 

UFC Gym offers three fitness center models and a low investment cost to access the business. The UFC is one of the biggest sports names in the world with millions of fans. The investment ranges from $1,080,000 – $4,213,000 with a liquid capital requirement of $500,000. The UFC Gym franchise makes fitness facilities accessible to all ages and fitness levels. With an established fan base and potential to grow, UFC Gym is a niche with a lot of opportunities. 

8. Workout Anytime

Workout Anytime has over 170 franchise units with 74.4% of owners having multiple locations. The 24-hour gym gives members access to fitness equipment, like treadmills, at all hours of the day for a full-body workout. The low-cost membership targets those looking for affordable and convenient fitness near where they live or work. The initial investment is between $698,850-$1,262,550. The exact amount depends on several factors like gym size and location. 

9. Blink Fitness 

Blink Fitness offers an affordable workout environment aimed at all fitness abilities. The brand has in-person locations as well as virtual fitness training and personal training services. There are currently more than 100 locations in operation and the business requires an initial investment of $607,000 – $2.5 million. The Blink Fitness app offers users over 500 on-demand workouts and fitness classes for motivating members at home. With a variety of online workouts, members can access high-intensity or low-impact interval training. 

In summary 

If you’re considering opening a gym in 2022, there are plenty of fitness franchise opportunities. Your passion, knowledge, experience, and finances will play a part in which business you invest in. The gyms that have made it this far have shown resilience during a tough time. For first-time business owners, investing in a gym franchise gives you access to a proven blueprint for success, strong support, and marketing collateral. This list of promising gym franchises could be the way forward as the fitness industry continues to make a comeback from the pandemic. 

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Owner at Carpe Diem BJJ

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