They say necessity is the mother of invention and while one of the downsides of the pandemic has been extreme stress, there’s also been an upside in the form of a huge outpouring of creativity.
When everything is on the line, the pure adrenaline of the situation can give clarity of vision, reveal new solutions and opportunities and embolden people to take risks and step outside their comfort zone.
The pandemic has also made many people question the rules by which business has always been done and look for better ways and the industry is now benefitting from this effect in spades, as existing operators, investors and entrepreneurs bring new concepts and partnerships to market at a rate we haven’t seen since the sector first emerged in the 1980s.
Much of this change is being driven by operators who’ve realised that growth can be accelerated through new partnerships and business models and also by ‘repacking’ existing offerings for new audiences.
In this issue, we highlight a number of key examples, including a new deal struck between Xponential Fitness and Fitness International (page 30), which will see Xponential’s nine franchise brands being set up in LA Fitness and City Sports Club locations across the US.
The deal is for 350 locations over five years, with the new club-in-club offerings being proposed as an upsell.
Owner-operated businesses have traditionally seen themselves as being in competition with franchises, but this deal turns that thinking on its head and opens up opportunities for collaboration across the sector.
It also plays to the need for traditional health club operations to find ways of upselling to avoid stagnation in growth, without incurring a huge increase in costs.
Also announcing an innovative collaboration this month is F45, which has partnered with OneSpaWorld – a spa operator on land and at sea which is led by Steiner Leisure and Elemis founder, Leonard Fluxman.
Under the multi-year agreement, F45 will deliver its branded workouts on-board cruise ships owned by Royal Caribbean subsidiary, Celebrity Cruises, with the first to launch being on board Celebrity Apex. F45 says it’s targeting the 30m people who take a cruise every year.
New gym models are also continuing to emerge, with 1Rebel’s James Balfour revealing 1Rebel Labs Studio (page 34) and Until London (page 22) creating a chain of private members clubs for PTs.
Hussle has also been challenging the industry’s received wisdom and partnering with McDonald’s (page 72).
At the heart of all this is a creative way of thinking that targets fresh audiences, seeks new partnerships, and challenges and rewrites the rules about what is possible.