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AWATfit Capitalizes on Demand for Mobile Fitness Services in Long Island, New York

As brick-and-mortar fitness centers are facing pandemic-driven setbacks, AWATfit’s business model is proving to be lucrative in its founding region.

By Sarah Baumann1851 Franchise Contributor
SPONSORED 1:13PM 10/05/20

When Rich Decker founded AWATfit, his intention was to bring the capabilities of a gym to residents of the Hamptons. Now, in an era when brick-and-mortar gyms are closing left and right, his business is growing exponentially in the region and spreading concentrically throughout greater New York.

Decker’s model addresses the safety concerns of most Americans, not to mention those of the CDC, by taking high-quality gym equipment out of a traditional, confined space and into the outdoors. The intention of this is to bring people, and their workouts, into nature. AWATfit mobilizes equipment through specialty trucks and provides both individual and group training in wide-open spaces. The major benefit of this type of business model is that it naturally avoids so many of the sanitation and safety requirements required of traditional fitness centers; with open-air locations and minimal equipment to sanitize, AWATfit was built to sell in the COVID-19 era.

“We’ve been in business for close to two years,” Decker told 1851. “When we originally established the business, we intentionally set it up to be a franchise. When COVID-19 hit, it quadrupled our business, adding three trucks in less than 18 months. We’ve had a number of potential franchisee requests in the past couple of months, and we’ll continue to target potential franchisees who are ready to take on their own business in the region.”

Stephen Polanski of Franchise Yeti, who is partnering with Decker and his team to help expand AWATfit’s immediate reach, said now is the perfect time to expand, given the demand for fitness regimen among frequent gym-goers: “The $100 billion gym landscape is going to be changed because of COVID-19. Consumers will never, or at least for an extended period of time, think of the gym in the same way again that they thought of it six months ago. There’s a demand for the accountability that a gym atmosphere brings to fitness fans. If you can’t physically go to the gym, why not have it come to you.”

Having spent 30 years in the fitness industry, Decker is familiar with the downfalls of traditional fitness centers. AWATfit’s model not only avoids the health concerns of today’s gym-goers, but, from a business management perspective, it forgoes the whims of difficult landlords. The overhead to join is low, but the return on investment is high. After establishing such a strong following in the first year, Decker found his brand presence had spread swiftly within a short span of time. In his first year of business, pre-Covid, Decker brought in $200k from his solo Hamptons location; this year he’s made close to $500k.

“If you have a bad attendance day at the gym, you still have to pay rent,” says Decker. “We wanted to provide a model that could allow franchisees to be truly independent and versatile. The success we’ve seen in the pandemic proves that kind of fitness business is possible.”

Decker has invested in the notion that outdoor activities can boost a person’s mood and energy level. In an era where so many people are stuck inside due to the pandemic, this is increasingly true. AWATfit’s mobile gym is built out of the back of a 20-foot pickup truck and brings everything directly to clients, whether that’s at their homes, the beach, a playing field or anywhere else. While the business might seem weather-dependent, Decker developed a model that could be successful in all the seasons and terrains of New York. The brand offers windbreakers, awnings, and other methods for exercising in inclimate weather. Even in the wintertime, groups of fitness enthusiasts will come together and break a sweat in twelve-degree weather. 

Decker is adamant that experiences like this bring people together and sustain future sales. Group activities that can be socially-distanced are increasing in popularity across the country, and AWATfit offers opportunities like bachelor and birthday party-type events to meet that demand. The feeling of community is increasingly important for many in a time when isolation is so prevalent, and Decker shared his desire to bring people together.

“I can train ten people at a time and still socially-distance,” Decker said. “We’re not just promoting a brand; we’re promoting togetherness.”

Polanski offered a similar sentiment on accountability: “The model provides three objectives that many others don’t: mobility, peace of mind (as it relates to safety and security), and, perhaps most importantly, accountability. It’s one thing to belong to a gym and never go to it — if the gym shows up in your front yard or in your driveway, however, you have to do the workout. There’s definitely a benefit to having the gym come to you.”

As of right now, AWATfit has two official locations in the Hamptons. The development rate is accelerating, however, with new signings across the region and outward. Decker has even received calls from prospectives in other states and countries like Australia and Columbia. What seems clear is that franchisees are seeing the sustainability factor of AWATfit’s model amid the pandemic; with so  much uncertainty in the market, the business is a safe and lucrative bet.

“From a franchising standpoint,” said Polanski, “you can be up and fully operational within 30 days of signing. The cost of a traditional gym by comparison can take six to nine months to open and have an astronomical overhead attached.”

Decker is confident the model will continue to grow in greater New York during and post-COVID: “The way I see it — why not expand now? There are so many folks out there that are looking to get creative with how they stay in shape,” said Decker. “If we can provide that same group-minded workout atmosphere or personal training and attention that people craved in the traditional setting, we’ll continue to have success with outdoor, mobile fitness.”

To learn more about franchising with AWATfit, visit