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Franchise watch: Fitness franchising’s one-two punch with Lift Brands

Franchise watch: Fitness franchising’s one-two punch with Lift Brands

The Lift Brands offering is among the strongest in the fitness industry.

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As the parent company for concepts such as the community-driven workout brand Snap Fitness and boutique kickboxing franchise 9Round, Lift Brands has been immersed in the international fitness franchising industry for almost two decades. This considerable experience has allowed the organization to hone its two core offerings, and yet never lose sight of the key ingredients that made them shine in the first place.

For Snap Fitness, this comes in the form of its unflappable #OneTeam mentality; an aspect of the brand that hasn’t just brought its global network together during an especially tumultuous year, but has in fact allowed Lift Brands to elevate Snap Fitness to entirely new heights.

Case in point: the first Snap Fitness studio in Japan opened this year, and in August, Lift Brands announced that three of its team members would transition into executive roles within the Snap Fitness team – bringing with them over 40 years of cumulative experience.

Perhaps most instrumental, however, was Lift Brands’ acquisition of its U.K. and Irish markets from the previous master developer. In a step to invest in infrastructure and franchisee support within these markets, this will allow Lift Brands to partner with the perfect franchisees to dramatically expand the Snap Fitness presence.

“The U.K. and Ireland are two of our strongest markets in terms of performance within our clubs,” says Alison McElroy, president of international and CLO for Lift Brands. “This is a really exciting development for us. This year the fitness industry has been really challenged, but we’re really strong believers in the strength of health and wellness.”


Unlike what you’d expect from a bulky big-box workout concept, Snap Fitness’ offering fits into an area of around 3,000 to 6,000 square feet, which allows investors of any size to open their club in a location convenient to customers. That could be in a neighborhood, shopping center, or anywhere that promotes the brand’s philosophy of a traditional fitness center paired with a welcoming community feel.

“The Snap Fitness brand has a global appeal, because of its core offering; it resonates no matter where in the world you are,” says McElroy. “It’s a modern, convenient, friendly, and accessible fitness center. With people focusing on health and wellness worldwide, that’s a concept that translates beyond different country borders.”

This bespoke expertise is also delivered to the many Lift Brands franchisees around the world, who benefit from the organization’s rich experience and dedication; ensuring that its network receives only the best level of support, whether they’re opening a Snap Fitness center, or a boutique location from its sister brand, 9Round.

“This year, we’ve tripled-down on our franchisee support”

Support from Lift Brands comes in several forms and includes the likes of initial training at Snap University, one-on-one coaching with a dedicated franchise business coach, regular webinars and virtual programs, and annual celebratory conferences.

“This year, we’ve tripled-down on our franchisee support,” explains McElroy. “With regards to the pandemic, we’ve supported our franchisees in numerous areas, such as the closing and re-opening process, programs such as offering digital memberships during the shutdown, and both financial and operational support.

“On top of that, we’ve increased our capacity for support across the board. In the last 90 days, we have more than doubled the number of franchise business coaches that we have in our network. That was an intentional investment on our part to focus on the growth and success of clubs, and to make the most of the opportunities that come from a disruption such as we’ve seen this year.”


When it comes to rapidly growing 9Round, Lift Brands has got other concepts on the ropes; as a master developer for the franchise and a minority partner in 9Round global, with founders Shannon and Heather Hudson, the organization has a rich understanding of what makes the boutique offering unique.

And despite 9Round’s small floorspace – the average center requires just 1,200 to 1,500 square feet – it’s a franchise concept that packs just as much of a punch as Lift Brands’ other offerings.

Thanks to the brand’s dual franchising model, where investors can either opt for a hands-on owner-operator franchise or an arms-length semi-owner-operator structure and its lack of rigid class times for guests, 9Round has managed to deliver the one-two knockout that has seen it survive and thrive throughout this year.

“Class times work great for certain people, but one of the most exciting things about franchising is that there are different things that work well for different people,” says McElroy. “Members at 9Round tend to be raving fans of the brand, and there’s a really great culture at our clubs. Also, members appreciate the flexibility of having no fixed start-time, while at the same time, having the benefits of one-on-one coaching.”

For franchisees, 9Round also has the benefit of being a lower-cost investment than other boutique models. This makes it an accessible franchise for both individual investors looking to open a business with their savings, but also multi-unit owners looking to scale and diversify their portfolio.

Additionally, 9Round locations offer merchandise and the benefits are twofold: gym-goers can deepen their immersion in the brand by using only the most premium equipment, and franchisees can generate supplementary revenue from merchandise sales.

“Within the European market, we’re looking to work with master franchisees who will make a large investment to commit to a country or a territory to develop the 9Round program,” says McElroy. “We’re looking for franchisees who are really committed to the idea of health and wellness; whether that’s as an owner-operator, or as an investor who’s hiring a professional staff to run their business for them.”


Established: 2008

Number of franchised outlets: 750 open or in development

Location of units: Global

Investment range: from £150,000 (based on a 1,100 sq. ft unit)

Minimum required capital: £100,000



Established: 2003

Number of franchised outlets: 2,000 open or in development

Location of units: Global

Investment range: from £450,000 (based on a 5,000 sq. ft unit)

Minimum required capital: £200,000


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