Are you a fitness franchise that is actively recruiting new owners?

If you are, you are not alone. Fitness and exercise franchises are expanding rapidly in all areas of North America. There are exercise gyms, yoga franchises, rock-climbing franchises, kickboxing franchises, and even franchises that send trainers to members’ homes. 

If you are a franchise hoping to expand into this segment by selling to new owners, I would like to share just one word with you, which defines the most important trait you should be looking for in the new owners you bring on board . . .


Perhaps more than in any other kind of franchise, the owners of successful exercise and fitness franchises need to be authentic in a number of ways . . .

  • They should share genuine enthusiasm, knowledge, and goals with their target customers. The owner of a yoga franchise, for example, should be a yoga practitioner. The owner of a martial arts franchise should be a martial artist. The owner of a rock-climbing facility should know about that sport and should probably know the most popular rock climbing attractions in the area where the franchise is located. Why? Because people who are genuine enthusiasts in a given area will speak the same language of their target customers and will attract more of them. If your owners are only in it for the money – if they have to “fake it,” their chances of success are reduced.
  • They should dress like their target customers. When customers come into franchises, they want to be greeted by owners at the front desk who dress the way they do. Granted, your owners can compensate for this somewhat by hiring the right front-desk personnel and trainers. But in my view, the people who own and represent exercise and fitness franchises should “fit” with the members of their target audiences.

How Can You Recruit the Right Authentic Owners?

  • Advertise in the places your target franchise owners go. Your outreach and advertising should be in publications they read, at the equipment and trade shows they attend, and in the other places they go. Having a booth in place at a body building competition, for example, can put your franchise right in front of your target owners if you have a franchise of gyms that cater to that group of enthusiasts.
  • Have current enthusiasts and potential members help you define your brand and even your franchise name. Getting bona fide enthusiasts take part in focus groups that shape your brand can save you time and result in a brand that “speaks” to both potential franchise owners and their future customers.
  • Consider the financial profiles of your possible owners. Young skiers, martial artists, and rock climbers might not have the financial resources they need to purchase your franchise. So speak with your business-oriented executives in headquarters to devise ownership plans and financial options that will help them afford the cost of ownership.
  • Offer great training to potential owners and let them take the training before they buy. Because they will want to feel confident that they will have the business knowledge to succeed, offering them excellent training on operating the business side of your franchise will go a long way toward bringing them on board.
  • Hire the right salespeople. Here again the rule is to hire people who share the enthusiasms and energies of your target owners. When your salespeople are rock climbers, for example, they will be far better able to sell to rock climbers than will salespeople who know nothing about the sport.

Again, authenticity is the rule at every step as you bring in the right owners and watch your franchise expand and prosper. Fitness and exercise franchises are expanding quickly and with the right kind of knowledge and preparation, you can be part of the boom.

Evan Hackel, President of the New England Franchise Association, is a 35-year franchising veteran as both a franchisor and a franchisee. Evan is an Entrepreneur, Author, Speaker, and Podcaster. Evan is the CEO of Ingage Consulting and an advisor to Tortal Training. Evan is also host of the highly successful Training Unleashed podcasts and author of the book Ingaging Leadership Meets the Younger Generation.

For more information, visit and follow him on LinkedIn