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Now is the Time for Fitness Franchising

As an entrepreneur, I watch developments in the economy very closely. Most economic outlooks predict a mild recession in 2023 induced by higher interest rates from the Fed. As a fitness franchise professional, and based on my experience with previous down cycles, I can tell you that a recession presents an opportunity in two ways. First, when financial times get tough, people tend to go to the gym more often. There is no better stress reliever than a great workout, especially a great infrared workout. Secondly, when recession happens, business executives think about gaining more control over their own destiny. Many of those professionals look to franchising as a way to gain more freedom and opportunity for their future.

I am prejudiced, of course, but I really do believe that our brands have the greatest opportunity for ROI and wealth creation, more than any other in the fitness and spa industries. HOTWORX benefits greatly from a seasoned franchise management team. With an organization dating back to its roots as a franchisor in 1996, the company has learned a lot through experience and has endured through several economic downturns. The HOTWORX franchisor team is seasoned and ready to sustain its explosive growth in franchise profits and number of locations well into the future. The path to franchise profits is through an unwavering focus on the customer.

Keep this in mind. A franchise product needs to be innovative and attractive to the customer, but business growth doesn’t just happen because a product is “cool.” It starts with the product, and the product is extremely important, for sure, but growth happens because of a steadfast discipline to creating a culture based on a precise target.

HOTWORX maintains a maniacal effort to adhere to its customer strategy. When a brand has laser focus on the target customer, then magic can happen. Most brands wind up watering down their brand due to a tendency to bend to market forces that can distract a company away from its true identity. As the CEO of HOTWORX I am determined to never let that happen to our franchise. I see it happen all the time, though, with other brands. It takes focus and courage to stay the course with a concept. And, staying true to the founding maxim is vital to the health of any innovative brand. Companies have to evolve while staying true to themselves. So goes life.

Think about the brands that have mastered the art of innovation and authenticity simultaneously. Starbucks, Apple and McDonald’s come to mind immediately. All three of those iconic brands emerged from humble beginnings and made it through some moments of identity soul searching. They ultimately prevailed when they went back to their roots while creating massive innovations at the same time. Netflix is another brand that made an incredible 180 operational pivot from DVD’s to digital before the customer even asked for it, all while maintaining the essence of who they are as a company. I have the utmost respect for companies that execute bold and innovative strategies with courage and confidence in who they are and what they represent.

Great brands keep it real and are customer focused. For HOTWORX, our target customer is well defined. She is a 30 year old female who is gainfully employed and who is looking to “discover her inner warrior.” In the modern fitness world, female clients want more than the old “Richard Simmons” style of low challenge aerobics and pink dumbbells in the weight room. At HOTWORX we recognize this and we don’t hold back when it comes to helping customers unleash the warrior within as they pursue the fitness results that they want.

Our focus on that customer avatar attracts the core 18-35 year old client for sure, but it also attracts others who want to discover their inner warrior too, and we welcome them to the studio with open arms. The end result of that unwavering strategic focus is a fitness studio culture of individuals ranging from 18-80+. And yes, we do have some guys, about 15% who want to discover their inner warrior too, but we have the discipline to keep from marketing to them.

I love this quote:

“Build something 100 people love, not something 1 million people kind of like.”
                                                                                    Brian Chesky, CEO/Founder of Airbnb

I like to say this:

Focus on the ONE to sell to the MANY!

At the end of the day, brands that have the discipline to stay true to their identity, while evolving ahead of the needs of their customers will always win, especially through an economic downturn.

Franchises have an extra hurdle to cross as opposed to a 100% company owned model like that of Starbucks and Apple. As a federation of entrepreneurs, so to speak, a franchise must find ways to keep everyone on brand point at all times. This can be challenging for a franchise and it requires and incredible amount of teamwork and discipline to pull it off. But when it is done right, the entrepreneurial power of a franchise company is an incredible business force to reckon with in the marketplace.

A franchise is a team!

Maybe now is the time for you to align with the franchise team that is right for you!


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Stephen P. Smith, MA
CEO and Creator of HOTWORX, Author, Former National Collegiate Bodybuilding Champion and Arena Football Player, Certified Professional Trainer


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