Actor Mark Wahlberg, who has built his professional image on being super-fit, has continued to grow his portfolio of fitness investments by taking a stake in Australian HIIT franchise, F45.
The investment was made via his Mark Wahlberg Investment Group.
The deal – for a minority stake in the company – also included investment from FOD Capital, which is managed by Michael Raymond and values the F45 business at US$450m.
Wahlberg’s involvement is a high profile win for F45 founders, CEO Rob Deutsch and partner Adam Gilchrist, who will continue to lead the company through its next stage of global growth.
In announcing the deal, Deutsch said: “This is a monumental transaction for F45. When we started the company, we had bold plans to create a global fitness movement and we’re excited to embark on this partnership with Mark Wahlberg and his team of investors. His genuine passion for fitness, combined with his proven business acumen and shared vision for F45 Training made him an ideal fit for the company.”
The right investor
Deutsch said F45 went through a two-year marketing process to identify the best investor for the business. The aim being to enable it to accelerate its global growth plans, with a particular focus on increasing brand awareness – especially in the fast growing and lucrative US market.
The cash injection is expected to enable F45 to improve its systems and processes, while also driving the global roll-out of new locations.
Wahlberg said he’s excited to be getting on board with the F45 business, explaining: “The founders of F45 Training have done an incredible job building a global brand, and with this partnership, we hope to continue to disrupt the fitness industry.
“The strength of the business is that people of all fitness levels find motivation and support in an F45 studio.
“We look forward to inspiring people all over the world to pursue their health and fitness goals by introducing them to F45.”
Training with Wahlberg
Wahlberg said F45 will be his “go-to workout” when he’s not involved in specific training for an acting role which requires specialist interventions or equipment.
The actor is well-known for undertaking physical transformations to enable him to play specific roles, including piling on 56lbs of muscle to take him from a low of 165lbs to 221lbs.
His most extreme role to date was as a body builder in the film Pain & Gain.
The prospect of training alongside the actor – however slim – is expected to be a draw for fans. It’s thought likely he’ll also make guest appearances and attend some openings.
Wahlberg has 10m followers on Instagram and regularly posts details of his workout regime, which includes going to bed at 7.30pm, rising at 2.30am, doing a 90 minute workout starting at 3.40am and a second workout in the evening.
Training for busy people
F45, which originally launched into the Australian market, has largely grown through franchising and already has 1,500 studios across 40 countries.
It currently has 50 locations in the UK, with a new club opening soon in Glasgow.
Deutsch worked as an equities trader in the financial markets for over 10 years before launching F45. He told HCM: “I always found time to work out alongside my stressful job – but I saw many people failing to juggle them both. This inspired me to leave the corporate world to set up an effective training technique for busy people.”
The first F45 opened in Sydney in 2013 and the franchise business launched in 2014.
Best of both worlds
“When we launched,” Deutsch told HCM, “we set out to create a ‘third way’ – an alternative to what was available in the market at the time. On the one hand, you had people spending around AU$20 a week on gym membership but getting no innovation or motivation, so they inevitably stopped going. At the other end of the spectrum, people were paying up to AU$80 for personal training.
“I wanted to create something that combined the best of both. We do offer some personal training for those who want it, but our focus is very much on instructor-led group sessions that build a community, and that come with a mid-range price tag.”
F45’s HIIT classes deliver a functional, results-driven, full-body workout that are said to boost energy levels, metabolic rate, strength and endurance. Sessions are fast-paced, with a strong community element to ensure members push themselves, and there’s support and guidance from F45 coaches.
These coaches guide customers through a series of intense, 45-second exercises, with short breaks in between so they can catch their breath. The focus is on functional training – hence the ‘F’ in ‘F45’ – and classes last 45 minutes.
“We aim to constantly surprise people with inventive new workouts: we draw from a pool of over 3,000 exercises when we construct classes, and every three months 250 new ones are added, along with fresh equipment,” says Deutsch. “So every day at F45 is different. That’s a key reason for its popularity, and why studios are popping up all over the world.”