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Fit for Free, which has 51 sites in the Netherlands (two photos above), was acquired in 2009 by SportCity, which operates 18 all-inclusive health clubs in the Netherlands (below and left)


Fit for Free was founded in the Netherlands in August 2005 with a mission of making fitness accessible to all, removing financial, social and geographical barriers. Head of marketing Tina Farifteh


says: “Fit for Free’s philosophy is to attract with incredibly low prices and effective marketing; impress and convert with a wow factor at fi rst visit, created by big open spaces and modern equipment; and retain through promotions, member benefi ts and loyalty programmes.” Its large clubs are located in


residential areas, and although offering budget prices – in the


Netherlands, fees start at just €15.95 a month – group exercise is also available, instructors man the gym fl oor during peak hours, and


“friendly, staffed reception areas” are highlighted as a key selling point. But perhaps what sets the brand apart even more than this are its


November/December 2013 © Cybertrek 2013


member benefi ts – the basis on which it justifi es its ‘for free’ name, as the idea is that members will enjoy deals from local and national partners that easily cover the cost of their membership each month. “Fit for Free is more than just a


gym,” says Farifteh. “It’s a world of discounts and benefi ts.” In 2009, Fit for Free was acquired


by all-inclusive operator SportCity, with NIBS – the holding company for the two brands – founded in the same year. “The most important reasons for the acquisition were the high growth rate of Fit For Free and high potential of the budget segment in general,” says Andy Brees, general manager of SportCity. SportCity – which operates


in the Netherlands only, with 18 clubs – remains a separate profi t centre from Fit for Free, although acquiring the budget model did allow it to convert two poorly


performing centres into successful Fit for Free health clubs. Having two distinct business


models also gives the parent company more fl exibility: “For every location and acquisition, we determine the brand that best fi ts location. In this way we optimise our portfolio,” says Brees. “At the moment we’re being more bullish with Fit for Free, as current market conditions suit that brand and set-up costs are lower.” There are now 51 Fit for Free sites


in the Netherlands – making it the second largest chain in the country in terms of sites, and the largest in terms of members – as well as four clubs in the UK, two in Belgium, one in Poland and one in Brazil. Farifteh says: “In the fi rst


few years, our communication was mainly focused on the revolutionary low price. This focus has slowly broadened and now also includes quality and fun.”


Read Health Club Management online at healthclubmanagement.co.uk/digital 35


COMPANY HISTORY


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