Open 24 hours a day and 365 days a years, Anytime Fitness is a different kind of fitness center. Anytime Fitness utilizes a franchising approach that offers entrepreneurs a convenient and affordable recurring-revenue business model. Franchisees benefit from a turnkey system that minimizes payroll costs while maximizing security and enjoyment for club members.
The first Anytime Fitness gym opened in May 2002 in Cambridge, Minn. It has opened an average of 300 new gyms each year for the past eight years. Nearly 3,000 gyms are now open in 50 states and more than 20 countries, making the company the world’s fastest-growing fitness club and largest co-ed fitness franchise.
“I joined Anytime Fitness in 2010,” says Michael Zwiefel, director of construction and design. “When I started, the company had just launched a new décor package to create a unified brand image for their clubs. My role was to lead implementation of the program for new clubs as well as our existing facilities.”
Anytime Fitness works with its franchisees to guide them through the design of their club and educate them on the overall development process. Its franchisees come from all walks of life and have varying experience within the industry.
“The big challenge for us is to help them through that process,” Zwiefel says. “Our franchisees manage the development and construction of their gyms. The process can be complicated for a first-timer. We provide tools, support and guidance to ensure they are successful.”
What can be both a blessing and a curse for the company is the fact that the model offers a degree of flexibility. “We are not a cookie-cutter concept with a rigid operating platform,” Zwiefel says. “While we have core requirements and standards we still allow for flexibility in some of the amenities and design. This flexibility can be a challenge to manage from a design and brand aspects, but it is also one reason why we are so successful. We look at each location individually, ensuring the basic requirements are met from a functional and branding perspective. The franchisee is involved throughout the process and are able to influence many components of the design.”
Anytime Fitness franchises typically opens in existing real estate, which results in a wide variety of spatial configurations. The lack of ground-up construction makes it nearly impossible to maintain a true prototype.
Staying in Front
Anytime Fitness keeps its finger on the pulse of the fitness industry as well as trends in construction, design and materials. The company looks for the right vendor partners that can provide the true value.
“We are always concerned with cost, but it is only one aspect of material and vendor selection” Zwiefel says. “Value is key. First and foremost, we have to pick the right products for the intended use and ensure they perform. Price, ease of installation, durability, maintenance, warranty and cost of owner all go into material selection. Ensuring we are partnering with the right vendor is also important. Factors such as points of distribution, shipping, ease of ordering and customer service are critical, especially with a franchised concept that covers a larger geographic area.”
Since he came on board in 2010, Anytime Fitness has supported Zwiefel’s department by adding a number of team members to ensure the company can support its operations. In addition to making sure the company has the right vendors in place and continues working to stay on top of trends, Anytime Fitness also has invested in technology to help franchisees operate the brand and connect with members.
About 80 percent of all Anytime Fitness gyms are located in the United States. But already international locations have opened in Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, the Netherlands, Poland, Qatar, Grand Cayman, India, Chile, Spain, Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia and the Philippines.
Within five years from now, the company anticipates that its U.S. portfolio will be closer to 50 percent of its footprint with approximately 4,000 clubs in the United States and another 4,000 around the globe.
“We want to maintain a vibrant and successful global model,” Zwiefel says. “This is a fast-paced and ever-changing industry. We must remain agile and stay current, making sure we have the right amenities and offerings in our clubs. We need to be able to connect with members and support their health and fitness goals.”