Health and fitness Jan, 24 2011

Healthy prospects for wealthy returns

By Pallavi Majha
Healthy prospects for wealthy returns

Delivering value for money and not compromising on the equipment, service, hygiene, customer service or technology is Snap Fitness, the world’s fastest growing fitness chain. Force Fitness is the Master Franchise for Snap Fitness in India. Srileka Reddy, Director-Marketing, Force Fitness shares the success story of the brand in India and the contribution of franchising in it

Pallavi Majha (PM): Brief us about the launch, growth and success of Snap Fitness in India. How franchising has helped in this growth?

Srileka Reddy (SR): Force Fitness is the Master Franchise for Snap Fitness in India. Force fitness has two partners; Dr Vikram BM (Managing Director) and Srileka Reddy (Director-Marketing). Our first Snap Club was launched in November 2008 in Bangalore, Indira Nagar. Despite being launched in the peak of recession the club was a runaway success with 500 registered members in pre sales even before the club opened.

Franchising has played a huge role in our growth with the first five franchises of Snap being taken by the members of our first (Indira Nagar) store. Our first franchise club was signed in May 2009 (and opened in August 2009) after which there has been no looking back. From then onwards there have been at least two clubs opening every month, most of them franchised.

PM: Snap is the world’s fastest growing fitness chain. What according to you is the USP of the brand that has made it grow at such a fast pace?

SR: Snap has achieved the distinction of being the world’s fastest growing fitness chain because of the value that it offers. We do not compromise on the equipment, service, hygiene, customer service or technology but we price it at very affordable rates. The value box is huge compared to other fitness clubs. Members have loved the model the world over. Despite markets being different the world over, all consumers are united in one thing; they all want value for their money and Snap is able to deliver this.

From the franchisees point of view, Snap is a very scalable model where returns are fast. We also believe in keeping our franchisees happy with support at every step and charging lower royalties than industry standards. As a result of this strategy, each franchisee has opened multiple gyms leading to faster growth. For example the 2,500 locations in America have been opened by just 600 franchisees.

PM: When and how did you decide to bring Snap fitness to India? What was the inspiration behind your decision to expand the brand in India?

SR: We took the license for Snap Fitness in June 2008. We were on the lookout for a model which would fit in the Indian market. With real estate costs being so high in India, we needed a model which is scalable and would not require too much real estate but would deliver convenience, affordability and value to the consumers. Having worked with big box clubs we realised that frills like steam, shower, group classes and other add on’s were actually used by less than five per cent of the members with the majority of the members spending time only on cardio and in the weights section.

We then decided to go with a model which provided precisely what the consumers need and pass on the savings of using less real estate to the member in the form of lower membership rates.

We realised that steam, showers etc., were non-revenue spaces which only added to the cost of overheads and resulted in high club membership rates.

PM: Under which agreement the brand was brought to India and what strategy are you following for its expansion in India?

SR: Force Fitness is the Master Franchisee for Snap Fitness in India. We would be using the franchise route for expansion with 10 per cent of the clubs being company owned.

PM: What is the eligibility criterion for the selection of the franchisees for Snap Fitness internationally and particularly in India?

SR: Passion for the business, financial resources, availability of time allocated towards the business (though we allow absentee ownership, we recommend that the franchise owner allocate at least a couple of hours on a daily basis to the business.

These are the main criteria we look for while choosing a franchisee both internationally and in India.

PM: What is total number of Snap Fitness franchisees in India at present and how many more are expected in the coming years?

SR: We have 25 Snap Clubs at present in less than 2 years from when we opened our first franchise club. We are looking at 300 clubs over the next 3 years.

PM: What amount of investment is required from the franchisee at the initial stage and later on?

SR: The entire cost of the project from start to finish is Rs 1.2 crore.

PM: What is your opinion regarding the growth and scope of franchising in Indian fitness industry?

SR: Franchising has played a huge factor in our growth and will be a big part of our expansion strategy. In my opinion franchising has many advantages which allows us to leverage others financial and local strengths. Franchising is here to stay in the fitness industry and in all industries.

PM: What kind of support and training is provided to the franchisees by the franchisor for starting a franchise business?

SR: Force Fitness provides start to finish project support to the franchisees.

The real estate selection and approval, recruitment and training of staff, presales marketing strategy, interior execution, and equipment selection and installation. We are able to negotiate the best prices and warranties for our franchisees, operations and sales support and ongoing marketing support in the form of creative’s, PR, advertising, and events.

Related: Work-out tips to start a gym business

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