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Mar, 07 2014

Jump-start your biz growth

Talk about any industry, trends keep on changing year after another. Likewise in fitness industry too, what rules the roost is curvy figure than size zero which was once a fad. From losing a belly fat to having a healthy physique, everyone seems to be goi

As per report released by Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and global consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC), the wellness industry is poised to touch Rs 100,000 (Rs 1 trillion) crore by 2015, with a compounded annual growth rate of 15-17%, from about Rs 70, 000 crore in 2012.  And, this is why India's fitness industry looks so promising to invest into. Fitness industry is for one and all so either you want that size zero figure, six or eight pack abs or want to reduce that extra flab, there is no bar on age. 

Fitness consciousness is increasingly becoming everyone's part of lifestyle considering healthy benefits associated with it. With increasing demand by the young population, many global gyms chains have entered the Indian market to cater to large segment of consumers. Among them are America's Gold's Gym, which operates in India through F2 Fun & Fitness (India) Pvt Ltd, (A Valecha-Advani Group Company) having a master franchisee for India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Maldives, Nepal, Malaysia, Bangkok and Singapore. Snap Fitness, another USA-based brand made India entry through Force Fitness. Anytime Fitness, another world's famous fitness chain started its second innings recently in India.

Today, well built gym chains have taken place of neighbourhood akhadas that were meant only for men but there was nothing in offing for women's fitness. Considering the need of the hour, global gym brands made India entry. To cater to womens' fitness, USA's Contours International and European brand from Portugal  Vivafit was brought to India by Manisha Ahlawat through her company Rose Red Lifestyles LLP to cater to womens' fitness and offered comfy ambience with international standards. Besides international chains, domestic fitness clubs serving the organised segment in fitness market includes Talwalkars Hi Fi, Mumbai's Your Fitness Club (YFC) and SFL Fitness.

Today, fitness industry has gone an extra mile to offer best of the services to people from all walks of life. What has essentially proliferated the industry's demand is mainly the nerve-racking lifestyle and robust publicity by media which has resulted in escalating consumers' awareness levels related to having a fit, body and mind. Size zero figures, curvy body or flaunting one's well-built muscles or six-eight abs, all has become a rage among youth who idolize top celebs. Talking about factors that have given rise to number of gym chains across the country, Kashiff Khan, Co-Founder SFL Fitness, says: “Over the last few years, the urban India has shifted from an all-work-no-play-mentality to a more balanced lifestyle that places fitness first. The proof of that is the rapid growth of the 2,500 crore fitness industry that is growing exponentially at about 40% every year. The average individual has realised the need to be fit but the fitness industry is still in a nascent stage.”

Are you the right franchisee?

Considering the fact that opening a gym involves a huge investment. So, for a gym or fitness club, the qualities that franchisors look in their new franchisees is chiefly the financial capability. Entrepreneurial spirit, passion, conviction and belief in the concept are all the other ingredients to make a fitness franchise profitable. For selecting the right candidate on board, the selection criteria varies from company to company. Coming over to evaluating the profile of prospective franchisee, G Ramachandran, Director & Promoter, Gold's Gym India, says: “Screening is achieved through a combination of structured interviews, background checks and relevant behavioural profiling. We have developed an on-line application form on our website. This asks candidates detailed questions relating to their family situation, background experience, intentions about the business and financial capability. It then automatically produces a report on the candidate providing an overview of their initial suitability as well as alerting the franchisor.” Talking about the requisites they require for picking the right franchisee, Chandra Gopalan, Director, Contours India, says: “At Contours, we go through a rigorous selection process. The franchisee should have a past experience in running a business. They must have a net worth of one crore in order to invest 50 lakhs in a business as every business takes time to establish itself.”

Ensuring quality

Be it a franchise or company-owned store, if quality is consistently maintained in every brand's store only then it can survive. Kashiff Khan says: “At SFL Fitness, one of our most valuable assets is our certified professional trainers who have years of experience in training people. These wellness experts work with our members, being with them at every step and turn their bodies into fortresses of fitness.” The brands take various steps to maintain the standards at par. On this, Srileka Reddy, Director- Marketing, Force Fitness  Master Franchisee of Snap Fitness stresses on giving utmost importance to training and handholding the franchisee. She says: “We give utmost importance to training and handholding the franchisee. We help them right from the initial stages of identifying the location and negotiating the lease. Interiors are done by us. We order the equipment and do the recruitment for them. We completely handhold them during the pre-sales period and provide ongoing sales, operations and marketing support.” Franchising as a business model is touted as the easiest method for a speedy expansion. But, it can only turn out to be successful if both franchisor and franchisee equally support each other. Emphasizing on giving rigorous training, Manisha Ahlawat, says: “The owner/manager as well as the trainers have to undergo days of training in service and sales to ensure they meet the Vivafit standards. There are evaluations and periodical audits to further ensure that same standards are maintained well after opening the centres.” While, Vikas Jain, MD, Anytime Fitness, says: “Our experienced managers constantly interact with franchisees to ensure their success and following of globally laid out systems and processes. We have a highly dedicated and motivated team along with a back-up team in USA to ensure success of our franchisee.”

Is franchising the fittest route?

A franchise business is only sustainable if both the parties work in camaraderie. Coming over to fitness industry, many organised brands that have opted for franchising have achieved a considerable share in industry by way of opening identical fitness clubs in almost every part of the country. In favour of franchising, G Ramachandran, strongly feels: “Franchising model is the easiest way to become an entrepreneur. You will receive business plans, procedures, policies, and rules ready made from the franchisor. Therefore, a large part of your installation and initial setup work is already done for you when opting for a franchise center. Franchising in India is growing at an impressive rate of approximately 30 per cent per year. Presently, there are 1,200 franchisors in India, of which 25 per cent are of international origin, with U.S. companies the most prevalent. The franchise market in India has the potential to grow to $20 billion by 2020.” On a positive note, Srileka Reddy, says: “Franchising definitely has a bright future in the fitness industry as good quality fitness centres are highly required in all parts of the country and franchising is the fastest way to get there.”

“We currently have more than 149 gyms and India but with the kind of response we are having, we definitely look forward for 500 gyms. But the management bandwidth it seems difficult so, franchising is indeed a great opportunity,” informs Vishal Rupani, CEO, Talwalkars Hi FI.  Whereas, Manisha Ahlawat, says: “India has a large pool of entrepreneurs who would benefit from the jump start they get by buying a franchise instead of spending years in creating their own business model. Vivafit business model has been continuously improved and perfected by many of the best in fitness and franchise industry experts and the franchisee just needs to execute well. It is the fastest way to grow a business and make money.” While, Rizwan Sayed, Director, Your Fitness Club, says: “Franchise ownership can provide the perfect vehicle for achieving financial success. In other words, franchising provides the opportunity to be master of your own financial destiny, while enjoying the support of an established organisation and the resources it commands.”

On the expansion front, SFL fitness that started franchising in 2012 is now aiming to have 35 to 40 gyms by the end of 2014. Whereas, Gold’s Gym India plans to add 12 gyms by this year end. Europeon Brand  Vivafit that operates womens' only gym chains, is looking forward to add 20 or more gyms by end of this year.  Whereas YFC has plans of opening 50 clubs by this year end. Snap Fitness, on the other side, would be opening 100 clubs during this year. For Anytime Fitness, the plan would be to open around 10 centres in 2014.


Franchise facts: 


Existing gyms

Investment (in Rs)

Area (in sq.ft)


Return-on-investment (RoI)

Talwalkars Hi Fi


45-95 lakh


2-3 years


Gold’s Gym


2.5 crore


24 months


Snap Fitness


1.5 crore


18 months


Your Fitness Club (YFC)


 75 lakh

Min 2,000

12- 15 months




40-60 lakh


4-6 months

18-24 months

Contours India


55-60 lakh


6-8 months

24-36 months

SFL Fitness


50 lakh- 1.5 crore


2.5 years

24-36 months

Anytime Fitness


1 -1.5 crore

3,000-4,000 sq.ft

400 members


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