Wolverine’s personal trainer and F45 co-founder unveils brand new fitness concept Reunion

By Sarah Stowe | 26 Aug 2021 View comments

Celebrity trainer and F45 co-founder Luke Istomin has launched the Reunion Training franchise and is planning a network of 150 studios across Australia.

Luke’s high-profile clientele has included Aussie A-listers Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman; it was his training routine that helped shape up the actor for his Wolverine role.

When he launched the Reunion Training business in 2018 Luke brought his experience as a world class elite fitness professional and co-founder of F45  to develop the fitness concept.

“Our training principles are for the long term,” tells Inside Franchise Business.  The focus is on a personalised program for each client. Sessions run five days a week, with a different workout focus each day and alternating between strength and conditioning.

The key to the business is creating an all-round fitness program that focuses on strength and conditioning broken up with high intensity routines delivered within a boutique, community-centred 50 minute session that includes 10 minute warm-ups.

It’s important for clients to have fluctuations in their training routine to achieve sustainable long term results, he says.

Reunion trains in teams of three, with clients at a similar fitness level grouped together in a pod. “It takes the intimidation factor out,” says Luke.

There’s plenty of equipment as there would be at a big box gym but it is a boutique size, session-driven studio. The goal has been to achieve a sense of community among members, and in a business where many gym members move from “one shiny thing to another” he is pleased Reunion has a strong rate of member retention.

Right now there are three company-owned studios in Sydney – although they are operating digitally through lockdown- and membership has grown by 65 people during the last few weeks despite the stay-home orders in Greater Sydney.

The first studio has retained about 60 per cent of its membership since opening three years ago.

“I’m really proud of that. And for franchisees, it’s more comforting to know the customer base is wider. Wellness is a lifelong commitment, and we want to make this accessible to anyone.”

Luke and CEO Simon Philis are determined the model delivers on the goal of being franchisee-centric.

For instance, rather than a fixed upfront franchise fee, the pair have devised a sliding scale of fees that relate to sites that are tiered according to a number of factors. In that way a regional town studio catering for a smaller, lower income population base is not paying the same fee as a city studio with twice the footprint, more than twice the client base and a higher socio-economic clientele.

There are also deferred payments for equipment leasing which give new franchisees 12 months grace before they start repaying the loan.

“The more we can help a franchisee be successful, the more sites they’ll buy,” says Luke.