Within the 24-hour gym industry (yes, it exists, and yes, it’s a multi-billion dollar industry), there’s one name that’s known pretty much around the world: Anytime Fitness. And this isn’t by accident –after all, franchising fitness was always one of the goals of the gym’s founders.
Since its inception in 2002, Anytime Fitness has grown into a multi-national franchise powerhouse operating 4,000++ locations across 50 countries, and it’s not done growing: by 2019, Anytime Fitness has an estimated revenue of around $1.4 Billion, and experts say that it’s only going up from there.
Apart from business savvy, Anytime Fitness remains competitive in the fitness industry because it leverages a few key factors that allow it to grow and remain relevant. But Anytime Fitness is just one of the hundreds of gym franchises out there, what made them so special and what made them so successful in the process?
Physical Fitness is a Constant Demand, But Anytime Fitness Makes it Personal
Health and wellness have always been a priority for people, especially in the age of fast food and sedentary lifestyles. In the 2010s, ‘clean’ diets like Keto or Paleo started taking the world by storm, and thankfully, it continued to stoke the fires of the gym industry. After all, diet and exercise go hand in hand, and thanks to Hollywood pushing near-impossible body goals for people (healthy or otherwise), personal fitness remains a constant demand.
And Anytime Fitness knows this and takes advantage of it really well. Sure, 24-hour gyms have been around for quite some time, but unlike other gyms, Anytime Fitness continues to further the demand for wellness by actively marketing itself in its local markets. Unlike its competitors, who push the idea that men and women should look like Greek statues, Anytime Fitness’ marketing campaign relies heavily on emotionally-charged materials that connect with its audience on a human level.
Even in 2002, when industries were still brand-focused, Anytime Fitness remained customer-centric, with their branding being focused on having a ‘neighborhood gym’ feel, despite having thousands of locations around the world. And it worked, considering the number of franchisees they now have, and the almost 2 million customers that they’re serving.
Customers are Important to Anytime Fitness, But So Are Its Franchisees
Anytime Fitness CEO Chuck Raynon started the business in 2002 after his brother sadly passed away from heart disease. Since then, Raynon has used his business as a way to ‘transform people’s lives’, a direction Anytime Fitness takes not just with its members, but with its franchisees as well. Anytime Fitness takes a very personal, and hands-on, approach to its franchisees, making sure that the people who buy their brand are on board with the idea of fitness as a transformative tool, and not just a money-making project.
With this in mind, Anytime Fitness puts in a lot of effort to make sure its franchisees are happy via an international support network that addresses concerns and coordinates events for franchisees to attend. It’s a lot of money making their franchisees happy, but it’s a gamble that pays off: Anytime Fitness franchises are some of the happiest franchise owners in the industry, not only because of the dividends they make but also because business owners are personally fulfilled by the ‘transform people’s lives’ mindset of the company.
The Company Takes Care of its Members
The mindset of ‘transforming people’s lives’ is at the core of Anytime Fitness’ messaging, and it’s something it takes seriously. The gym focuses on what its members want to achieve, and not what society or media says they need to live up to. Anytime Fitness coaches are well-trained to be attuned to what people want and need and to be encouraging of it rather than trying to sell them on the Hollywood ideal. Sure, 6-packs are nice, but what’s nicer is having a body that is healthy and well-rounded, and the gym makes sure that its members (and coaches) live up to that. There so many stories of people spiraling out of control, only for them to be ‘saved’ by their Anytime Fitness coach.
Beyond their inspirational coaches, Anytime Fitness does another thing that’s crucial to their continued success, and something that reflects their values: accessibility. Yes, other 24-hour gyms allow their members to come in at any time of the day or night, but only if an employee is present. Not so for Anytime Fitness: the key fob they give members allows them to use the gym any time of the day or night. Period. No caveats. The company feels like this lets its members feel that they trust them, and it allows members to feel like they have control of their schedule, and it’s a business model that, again risky, pays off in the end.
And that key fob? That’s not just for their local gym: it allows them access to all of the 4,000++ locations around the world. Period. No caveats.
Anytime Fitness membership costs and fees are also kept low: it doesn’t have a set ‘international’ rate. Rather, the company, through its franchise, make sure that members are paying what is appropriate for their location. It’s not only competitive but also completely considerate. Anytime Fitness also makes canceling memberships easy: sure, they’ll try and talk you out of it, but members are never coerced into staying. When asked how to cancel Anytime Fitness membership, staff will tell you that it’s easy as speaking to the manager, surrendering your key fob, signing a couple of documents, and that’s it. No hard sells or hidden charges, just a heartfelt wish from the gym that you continue your healthy journey.
Continued Growth, Continued Support of Its Members and Franchisees
There’s an old saying: don’t fix what isn’t broken. Over the past decade, Anytime Fitness has become the largest, not to mention fastest-growing, gym franchise in the world, and it’s all thanks to their unique, member-and-franchisee-centric approach to their business. By treating its franchisees and members on equal footing, it allows the business to expand at a healthy rate, and all without compromising on its values.
It’s hard to predict exactly how much growth the company is going to go through over the next ten years, but one thing is certain: it’s going to be as healthy as its customers.