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Anytime’s 2,000th club opened in the Netherlands in December. Another 1,500 clubs may open over the next five years

12 months to open a club after a deal’s arranged, so I expect we’ll have clubs opening in some new markets in 2014. “Overall, I think we can still continue to open 300 clubs globally each year for the next five years, so five years from now we should have 3,500 clubs, bringing perhaps another 10 to 14 new countries into the mix.”


As if opening its 2,000th club wasn’t enough excitement for one year, in late 2012 Anytime also announced the acquisition of a non-fitness brand: a small, US-based waxing salon business called Waxing the City.

“We found four terrific partners who had four salons in Denver and one in Dallas. They had a track record, proof of concept, and they were looking to franchise. We opened our first Minnesota salon in December, with a second on its way, and we’ll begin franchising the concept in March. We don’t really need to tweak the concept at all – it’s just a case of putting the franchising infrastructure in place.

“To the consumer, there’s no direct connection between Anytime Fitness and Waxing the City, but of course we have two client bases: end customers and franchisees. And franchisees have immediate confidence in Waxing the City, because they know the best practices we have at Anytime Fitness will now be transferred to the new venture. We’ve already had a huge response from

existing Anytime franchisees who want to open a Waxing the City salon. “We’ll focus on the US to start off with and expect to sell close to 50 units in our first year – although most of them won’t open until 2014 – and should open another 50 or more in 2015. It’s early days, and I don’t think we’ll ever have 2,000 units in 10 years as we did with Anytime Fitness, but there’s no reason why, 10 years from now, we wouldn’t have hundreds, perhaps even over 1,000, Waxing the City salons. “Really we see ourselves as a franchising business rather than a fitness business, and over the coming years we want to bring on more service-focused, boutique type brands in what we call the ‘personal improvement’ space – a space that might encompass hair removal, fitness, nutrition, massage… Our company vision statement is to improve people’s self-esteem, so we’ll be looking for brands that help people feel better about themselves and that improve their lives in some way.

“In fact, we already have a

physiotherapy pilot going on, and there’s another project I’m really excited about which we’re hoping to roll out within the next calendar year. Some of the new ventures will be acquisitions; others will be start-ups. In the long run, we envision a collection of brands that improve the self-esteem of both the franchisees and the consumers, all of which share our best practices of franchising and consumer engagement.”

34 Read Health Club Management online at FITNESS FUTURE

So if Runyon is stretching his wings beyond fitness, is that because he sees fitness as a sector of limited opportunity? “Not at all – I’m very optimistic about the fitness industry. The next decade will be highly competitive, with low-cost and microgym operators continuing to expand, but at the same time there’ll be a lot of wind at our back thanks to the changes I already mentioned in the areas of medical insurance, government intervention and so on.

“So it won’t be easy, but I still think it will be an opportunistic decade and a decade of change. Technology will play a big role in that and is something we’re focusing on heavily in our offering: we have a new online offering designed to help our members make smart nutrition and activity choices throughout the entire week, not just when they’re at our clubs. “But the need for good people skills won’t go away – quite the opposite. Even now, you can train with a virtual personal trainer, so why should health clubs even exist 10 years from now? The reason we will exist is because people will still need the compassion, coaching and education that we can offer.

“So when we develop technology, it’s not to replace a human being – it’s to make the human better, more able to have a deep, engaged relationship with members. Ten years from now, I believe it will be the brands and clubs that best deliver what I call ‘relational innovation’ that will succeed.” l

March 2013 © Cybertrek 2013

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