Fitness fans with a need for speed

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Inside Franchise Business: Fitness fans with a need for speedWearable technology is popular in the fitness arena, and is the third-biggest trend this year. Australian consumers, comfortable with smartphones and watches, track their exercise progress using wearable devices, so it is a short step to turn to technology to ensure maximum efficiency for their weekly workout.

This is why fitness models such as Speedfit are so appealing, says founder Matej Varhalik.

The German technology that informs this program has been trending in Europe for 10 years and is now used across 2000 gyms and growing.

“People were sceptical, but then they saw it worked,” he says.

With as much as 70 per cent of the population not gym users, there is plenty of potential for a program that cuts back the weekly exercise regime to just one 20-minute session. Speedfit customers wear special fitness suits that deliver nerve activation to boost the efficacy of the exercise routine. Two clients at one time are monitored by the trainer.

This suits potential customers who might be avoiding gyms because they are injured, dislike a traditional fitness environment, have concerns about their body shape, are elderly…

“We are all trying to fit everything into 24 hours, we’re conscious about what we eat, but there are stresses and pressure. This is a chance for people to spend time on themselves,” says Varhalik. “We need to be fit to be better at home and at work.”

Clients prefer to pay more for a better experience, he says, be it is choosing organic food or a fitness routine.

For franchisees, this is an affordable route into the fitness arena without a big financial commitment needed for sites and equipment to set up the 24/7 gyms. Investing in a Speedfit franchise will cost between $200,000 and $240,000 for a five- or seven-year agreement. Franchisees pay a 7 per cent royalty, and a marketing levy of 6 per cent.

Varhalik says personal trainers can run their own franchise, but because the program is detailed they need to be certified fitness instructors.

Based on word of mouth, the business grew from its original studio to the current line-up of seven studios. Experience has shown Varhalik that studios are successful in a variety of sites, with a diverse demographic: visible ground-floor spaces, first-floor locations, city sites, suburban venues, professionals, elderly clients, younger mums.

He is now working with a team to firm up a location strategy and will be introducing a consumer campaign for the brand. There is plenty of potential for growth, he says, citing the German city of Munich which has a population of nearly two million people and has 250 studios similar to Speedfit.

He says the brand’s competitive edge is a high level of service: customers take nothing to the studio as Speedfit provides the exercise bodysuits, grooming products and a towel for the shower.

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