3 female focused fitness franchises

By Nick Hall | 24 Oct 2019 View comments

There’s no denying Australia is a nation of fitness fanatics. With over 4400 businesses in the gym industry, the sector is growing rapidly, with fitness franchises leading the charge.

According to market research firm IBISWorld’s Gym and Fitness Centres – Australia report, the industry has reported significant growth, were many other franchise offers have slowed. In the period between 2014-19, fitness centres achieved an annual growth of 4.8 per cent, generating $3bn in revenue.

However, the sector is not immune to challenges. The wealth of businesses on the market has increased competition with many operators suggesting saturation is having an impact. Budget gym chains and premium functional fitness franchises have driven industry growth, but as operators battle for market share, differentiation is the key.

More boutique fitness franchises have emerged on the scene, some focusing on convenience, others boxing and combat training. However, one of the oldest and most successful gym formats on offer is the female-focused approach.

The safe, no-judgement spaces have been a staple of the domestic fitness industry, and with specialisation built into the model, the opportunities for diversification are endless.

Here’s three very different women’s fitness franchises; one Aussie icon, one global giant and one fast-growing newbie.

Fernwood Women’s Health Clubs

Launched way back in 1989 by entrepreneur Diana Williams, Fernwood has become a stalwart of the Australian fitness industry.

Williams was inspired to create a safe and inviting environment for women to exercise in with no-judgement. Just five years after kick-starting the business, Fernwood turned to franchising.

Since then the brand has been awarded fitness, franchising, business and customer satisfaction accolades. In fact, Williams was the first woman inducted in to the Franchise Council of Australia’s Hall of Fame.

The gym model is based on comprehensive workout areas, personal training, group fitness, weight management programs, complimentary breakfasts and free toiletries.


Texas-founded Curves was more than just a pioneer of the women’s-only gym model when it launched in 1992. The chain was also instrumental in the development of the often-imitated 30-minute full body workout.

Since then, Curves has risen to become a worldwide success in more than 70 countries, helping more than 10 million women lose weight and get fit.

It’s a simple business model and offers ongoing revenue opportunities through membership, products and services.

Franchisees looking to join the iconic Curves brand will receive all initial training, operating software and ongoing expert support.


The newest kid on the block, Zadi is the brainchild of former Fernwood franchisee Adela Balto. Working alongside mentor Diana Williams, Balto has created a modern interpretation of a fitness gym just for women, complete with nightclub lighting and high-intensity training regime.

The female-only fitness franchise was launched last year, and unlike Curves and Fernwood, has a much greater emphasis on the millennial market.

“With ZADI becoming a franchise network, it was a progression of a plan,” Bolto told delegates at the Franchise Council of Australia recruitment forum.

“The systems were always designed for franchising, but we worked a lot on our brand before the launch. We focused on who we are, why we exist, and how we can solve our customer’s problems.”

Zadi currently has two locations in Sydney, with the brand gearing up for major growth over the next 12 months.

Female fitness franchises

When it comes to fitness franchises, fads come and go, but a safe and inviting environment for female gym-goers will never go out of style.

The key to Curves and Fernwood’s sustained success is simple. Understanding the market and providing a convenient, targeted and calorie-burning offering. It’s something that Zadi founder Adela Bolto has built into her new business, and for good reason.

Is fitness your passion? Take a look at these great fitness franchises.