global franchise newsletter sign up graphic

Stay in the know and receive the latest international franchising news, insight and investment opportunities

close catfish

“I never thought that I would end up in the position that I am today”

“I never thought that I would end up in the position that I am today”

Sarah Luna, the newly-appointed president of Xponential Fitness, is one of the youngest ever executives for a global fitness brand at just 34 years old. How did she achieve it? Through hard work, determination, and one fateful Pilates class.

Keep up to date with the latest Global Franchise News sent straight to your inbox. Sign up here.

Interview by Kieran McLoone, deputy editor for Global Franchise

“I never thought that I would end up in the position that I am today,” says Sarah Luna, the newly appointed president of health and wellbeing parent company, Xponential Fitness.

And at 34 years old, who can blame her? Many entrepreneurs can spend years trying to find their calling, and cycle through a multitude of roles before the right position comes along. For Luna, however, fitness franchising wasn’t just a possibility; it ran through her veins.

“I started dancing at the age of three and had a professional career. I then eventually entered the world of Pilates in college, but before that, my mom was a Jazzercise franchisee and my dad was an independent small business owner,” explains Luna. “From a young age, I was able to see the stark contrast between being the owner of your own destiny, but with the support system of a franchising model, versus doing it as a smaller mom-and-pop.”

Luna doesn’t look back on either of these potential avenues with judgement, but knew from the very start that the business-in-a-box format that her mom was able to harness was more appealing than the challenges of the independent journey walked by her dad.

“That was always very attractive to me; to see that there were opportunities to be your own business leader, but do it with the support system that comes with a franchise model.”

From Equinox to Xponential

Luna’s pathway toward becoming one of the youngest female presidents of an international parent company began in 2015 when she had a fateful meeting with Anthony Geisler, the founder and CEO of Xponential Fitness. Having worked as a Pilates coordinator for luxury fitness brand Equinox since 2013, she knew that she wanted to be a part of this new adventure from the moment the opportunity arose.

“I was teaching at Equinox, and Anthony was a member,” explains Luna. “He was investigating Club Pilates at the time and wanted to make sure that he actually liked it as a concept before acquiring this brand. It just so happened that it was his birthday, so I invited him to a birthday Pilates session.”

That session was the start of something special. Not only did Geisler hop on board the Pilates train, but he wanted Luna to join him as national sales director for the Club Pilates brand. For somebody in their late-twenties with extensive Pilates and dance training, opportunities like that don’t come along often.

“For me, as a classically-trained Pilates instructor, I wanted to get on board and have a hand in what Club Pilates would look like,” says Luna. “I knew this was going to disrupt a very fragmented industry, and it was going to provide a distribution channel for Pilates to get out to the masses. I wanted it to be done correctly.”

Driven by empathy

This step up into the Xponential Fitness family wasn’t Luna’s last taste of the on-the-ground franchisee experience, however. As well as owning her own Jazzercise franchise location, she also endeavored to work on the front desk of a Club Pilates site to get a real taste of what the network’s franchisees had to contend with. Additionally, she attended each and every grand opening possible. Equinox may have been a thing of the past, but the hard work had only just begun: “I was on the road a lot, and I’ll never forget that I hadn’t seen my husband – fiancé at the time – for nearly six or seven weeks. We were coming up on our honeymoon, and then I said I was taking a week off. I met my husband at the airport, we went on our honeymoon, and then when I came back I hit the road again,” says Luna.

“That was early on in the Club Pilates growth story, and it was incredibly important that we had someone going all over the country to see what was working and what wasn’t for the things we were rolling out from corporate office. I was working in the office Monday through Friday, and then going to these grand openings Friday through Sunday. I was jet-setting all over the country.”

“If I’m able to effect change at both the corporate and franchise studio level, then I’ll be happy”

With Xponential Fitness’ acquisition of Pure Barre in 2018, Luna received yet another promotion and was now president of this boutique brand. Her first port of call? Obtain even more hands-on experience to empathize with the needs of her franchisees.

“At Pure Barre I spent about two months at the front desk at a location, and you gain so much insight. Your learning curve is going to be much quicker than just operating from the corporate office. More importantly, you’re able to gain the respect of those that you’re working with because you’re able to walk in their shoes and see what they’re up against,” explains Luna.

“The POS system wasn’t working, the toilets weren’t working, and the instructor had slept through their alarm – that was a day where everything possible went wrong, and it’s very humbling to see what our franchise partners deal with on a daily basis. From the corporate office, we may forget that toilets break, or instructors are people, too.”

No sign of stopping

It seems as if all the hard work Luna has put in over the six years since joining Xponential has paid off, with the parent company now having eight franchise brands in its network, totaling over 1,700 international fitness studios. But rather than rest on her laurels, she’s looking to utilise all of this experience to make the franchisee journey as seamless and successful as possible.

“We tend to attract two types of franchise partners: One would be the practitioners like myself, which would be somebody that has a fitness or teacher background and wants to take that experience to the next level. The other type comes from more of a corporate career path; they’ve worked in running a business through accounting or finance, but found that they were in something that they weren’t passionate about. For either, we help them to be entrepreneurial while also having the guardrails of support in the areas where maybe they aren’t an expert,” says Luna.

“What excites me is when we have our franchise training and they’ll come through and say to me: ‘I’ve thought about all these aspects of the business, but I didn’t even consider liability insurance or marketing.’ There are lots of lightbulbs that go off during the training phase, and that shows that we’re providing value. The way I see it, the perfect marriage between an entrepreneur and a franchise model is being able to plug in those gaps – whether they’re to do with skillsets or outside knowledge – so that they can ramp-up their business successfully.”

Part of Luna’s job now is to help other entrepreneurs walk down a similar path to what she originally did; interestingly, many of the inquiries Xponential receives are also from female franchisees, with the fitness industry being especially receptive to women.

“That was always very attractive to me; to see that there were opportunities to be your own business leader, but do it with the support system that comes with a franchise model”

“Many people want to be in fitness, but don’t know exactly what that looks like,” says Luna. “We have a process to help them not only choose whether single-unit, multi-unit, or area developer would be best, but also whether something like yoga is a better fit than barre. It’s just about raising your hand that you’re interested, and then letting us help to guide you when the time is right.”

After the journey so far, which will no doubt continue for many years to come, what has been Luna’s main takeaway?

“Serving those around me; specifically the franchisees,” she says. “Success for me is seeing that there’s success in others. That may be my teammates or it could be franchise partners, but if I’m the only one that’s successful, then that isn’t success to me. If I’m able to effect change at both the corporate and franchise studio level, then I’ll be happy.”

This article was published in the latest Business Woman. Read the issue for FREE


Global Franchise Meets.

An inspirational new web video series where we meet the business leaders and influencers in International Franchising.

you may be interested in

franchise directory

  • TaxAssist Accountants

    Business & Professional Services, Financial Services, <100K, Featured

  • Cafe2U

    Food & Catering, Coffee, Take-away, <100K, Featured

  • 800 Pizza

    Food & Catering, Fastfood, Pizza, Take-away, Featured

view more
Connect with Linkedin Logo
Global White Logo Click Here
Close button

WHAT DO WE USE YOUR INFORMATION FOR?

Any of the information we collect from you may be used in one of the following ways: To personalize your experience (your information helps us to better respond to your individual needs) To improve our website (we continually strive to improve our website offerings based on the information and feedback we receive from you) To improve customer service (your information helps us to more effectively respond to your customer service requests and support needs) To process transactions your information, whether public or private, will not be sold, exchanged, transferred, or given to any other company for any reason whatsoever, without your consent, other than for the express purpose of delivering the purchased product or service requested. To administer a contest, promotion, survey or other site feature To send periodic emails The email address you provide for order processing, will only be used to send you information and updates pertaining to your order. Note: If at any time you would like to unsubscribe from receiving future emails, we include detailed unsubscribe instructions at the bottom of each email.

HOW DO WE PROTECT YOUR INFORMATION?

We implement a variety of security measures to maintain the safety of your personal information when you place an order or enter, submit, or access your personal information We offer the use of a secure server. All supplied sensitive/credit information is transmitted via Secure Socket Layer (SSL) technology and then encrypted into our Payment gateway providers database only to be accessible by those authorized with special access rights to such systems, and are required to keep the information confidential. After a transaction, your private information (credit cards, social security numbers, financials, etc.) will not be stored on our servers.

DO WE USE COOKIES?

Yes (Cookies are small files that a site or its service provider transfers to your computers hard drive through your Web browser (if you allow) that enables the sites or service providers systems to recognize your browser and capture and remember certain information. We use cookies to help us remember and process the items in your shopping cart, understand and save your preferences for future visits, keep track of advertisements and compile aggregate data about site traffic and site interaction so that we can offer better site experiences and tools in the future. We may contract with third-party service providers to assist us in better understanding our site visitors. These service providers are not permitted to use the information collected on our behalf except to help us conduct and improve our business.

DO WE DISCLOSE ANY INFORMATION TO OUTSIDE PARTIES?

We do not sell, trade, or otherwise transfer to outside parties your personally identifiable information. This does not include trusted third parties who assist us in operating our website, conducting our business, or servicing you, so long as those parties agree to keep this information confidential. We may also release your information when we believe release is appropriate to comply with the law, enforce our site policies, or protect ours or others rights, property, or safety. However, non-personally identifiable visitor information may be provided to other parties for marketing, advertising, or other uses.

THIRD PARTY LINKS

Occasionally, at our discretion, we may include or offer third party products or services on our website. These third party sites have separate and independent privacy policies. We therefore have no responsibility or liability for the content and activities of these linked sites. Nonetheless, we seek to protect the integrity of our site and welcome any feedback about these sites.

CHILDRENS ONLINE PRIVACY PROTECTION ACT COMPLIANCE

We are in compliance with the requirements of COPPA (Childrens Online Privacy Protection Act), we do not collect any information from anyone under 13 years of age. Our website, products and services are all directed to people who are at least 13 years old or older.

ONLINE PRIVACY POLICY ONLY

This online privacy policy applies only to information collected through our website and not to information collected offline.

TERMS AND CONDITIONS

Please also visit our Terms and Conditions section establishing the use, disclaimers, and limitations of liability governing the use of our website at globalfranchisemagazine.com/terms-conditions

YOUR CONSENT

By using our site, you consent to our online privacy policy.

CHANGES TO OUR PRIVACY POLICY

If we decide to change our privacy policy, we will post those changes on this page

CONTACTING US

If there are any questions regarding this privacy policy you may contact us using the information below. All correspondence relating to the Website should be sent to: Global Franchise 21/23 Phoenix Court Hawkins Road Colchester Essex CO2 8JY Email: subscriptions@aceville.co.uk