Like customers in their gyms pushing themselves to personal bests on the bench press, Workout Anytime
co-founders Steve Strickland and John Quattrocchi have hit a break-through milestone, signing the 100th location for the 24-7 fitness center franchise.
The two fitness industry veterans have worked in gyms and health clubs since the early 1970s and opened the first Workout Anytime in 1999. Leveraging Strickland’s experience with Bally’s and Nautilus International and Quattrocchi’s experience opening franchised gyms across the Southeast, they set out to serve the untapped niche in the industry for full-service, 24-hour gyms at affordable prices.
“When we first opened, we just wanted to see if it was franchise-able, but we’ve always thought we have the best value-price business model in the country,” Quattrocchi said. “Looking at some competitor brands, they have more than 2,500 locations, but we don’t feel like we’re limited to even that [benchmark].”
Workout Anytime might not have grown as quickly as those competitors, Quattrocchi said, but it has expanded with an unassailable record of never having a franchisee fail. He also noted that more than half of Workout Anytime’s clubs are owned by multiunit operators, which he said is a testament to how sound the 75-location brand’s unit economics are.
That’s not to say Workout Anytime is not thinking big.
“The next milestone is coming faster and faster, but we definitely have it written down, and it’s to get between 200 and 300 units signed,” Quattrocchi said. “The immediate next goal is to open the 100th store in 2015. Hopefully, we’ll get to the 200th location sold by the end of the year. The more units we have out there in new communities, the more people want them and want to operate them.”
In the four decades that he and Strickland have been in the industry, dozens of exercise and diet crazes have come and gone in the United States, but the brand has always approached expansion in the same long-term way, Quattrocchi said. Even now, some old ideas about exercise are new again, and Workout Anytime is meeting the demand for convenient gyms wherever it can, he said.
“You see major insurers paying for seniors’ or employees’ gym memberships because we’re seen as mainstream, preventive medicine,” he said. “Well, Steve and I have been saying that for 40 years.”
No matter the exercise fad, customers have always wanted the best workout with the best equipment they can get, for the lowest price and with the most convenience, he added. So Workout Anytime always focused on staying current with the latest equipment, cleanliness, and “being the ‘Cheers’ of neighborhood gyms where everybody knows your name,” Quattrocchi said.
“We’ve adapted over the years,” he added. “When most health clubs went toward annual contracts, we went to month-to-month contracts. Standard prices were $29 in the ’70s and ’80s and went up, then a bunch of brands came along with $10-per-month prices. So we came up with $15 basic and $25 premium memberships. It’s a good niche, because the gyms don’t get overcrowded, but we can keep the quality of our services high.”
Currently, Workout Anytime is rolling out to more of its system the reACT Training System [http://www.reacttrainer.com/
], an innovative treadmill that maximizes leg workouts and builds core strength and balance while eliminating impact on the lower body. Quattrocchi noted that Workout Anytime would be the only gym franchise at its value price point to offer the reACT equipment. He added that Workout Anytime’s Perx Advantage loyalty and discount-marketing system, complete with a smartphone app, “brought us into the 21st century.” They all add up to giving customers far more than they pay for, he said, which should fuel demand for an acceleration of growth in the future.
“It’s been a great journey so far, and we’re still enjoying the ride,” Quattrocchi said. “It hasn’t been without its growing pains, but we’re looking forward to getting to around 200 [units in development] in the next year or two.”