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McFit gets a makeover

McFit, the original budget gym is undergoing a transformation with a new look and estate-wide overhaul, as Liz Terry reports


When the late, great Rainer Schaller conceived the idea for McFit in the mid-90s, the health and fitness industry in Europe was approaching stagnation in its economic lifecycle and having boomed through the 80s and into the 90s, was starting to plateau, with decline not far off.

This general malaise was exacerbated by the recession that had gripped the world in the early 90s, meaning it was a volatile time for the sector.

The launch of McFit in 1997 was to change all that, resetting the industry and unlocking unbelievable areas of growth with its new budget pricing model that put health club use within reach of the majority of the population by largely removing price resistance, with Schaller having the ambition to make fitness training ‘affordable for all’.

The first location
The first McFit was located in Bavaria and as word about it spread through the industry, the club became a magnet for operators and investors, who were interested to see the new business model in action and understand its potential.

As it turned out, Schaller had a ten-year head start with McFit, but the following decade, entrepreneurs began to launch their own budget concepts, John Treharne at the The Gym Group in 2007; Jan Spaticchia with énergie and JJB with MiFit in 2008; Peter Roberts with PureGym and James Caan with Nuyuu in 2009; Spaticchia again at FitLess (which became Fit4Less) in 2010; and Mike Balfour’s Fitness First budget concept, Klick Fitness, in 2011 – the same year Rene Moos opened the first Basic-Fit. These were a few of the early pioneers. Some survived and thrived. Some didn’t.

But it’s hard to catch a first-mover, especially when that person is Rainer Schaller and they have a decade on the competition and so McFit scaled steadily, reaching 243 clubs by 2017, when HCM spoke to the top team (www.HCMmag.com/McFit2017).

Having pioneered the sector and grown the McFit brand, Schaller widened his remit, renaming the company – previously The McFit Group – to be the eponymous Rainer Schaller Group (RSG) and launching businesses and brands across numerous health and fitness verticals until his untimely death in October 2022, aged just 53.

These multiple concepts – the product of is creative imagination – included everything from the high-end John Reed and Heimat to John & Jane’s and Gold’s Gym. There was also a super-budget concept, HIGH5, which undercut McFit, as well as restaurants, night clubs, fit tech and nutrition businesses and modelling agencies within the diverse group.

Although many health club businesses have exceeded McFit in terms of scale, the brand is still lauded as a groundbreaker, so news that the estate is to have a major overall got HCM interested and here we share with you the new look and feel for the McFit estate – playful bright and social – which is currently being rolled out across all clubs following trials in Vienna, Austria and Heilbronn, Germany.

In addition to refitting the clubs, RSG continues to fine-tune its McFit portfolio, having just sold its 47 Spanish clubs to Basic-Fit, in a deal that concluded on 27 March.

McFit Mark III: What to expect

• Spacious womens’ areas with comprehensive strength training facilities. Some with separate access

•  A larger range of equipment

•  A bright, modern colour scheme with the main materials being steel, concrete and wood

•  More functional training: functional hubs, assault bikes, rowing ergometers, glute booster racks and functional towers

•  Cardio areas with treadmills, ascent trainers climb mills, cross trainers, recumbent and seated bikes and rowers

•  Strength areas with athletic half-racks including platform, reverse hyper extension, squat machine and dumbbells up to 50 kg

•  Special features such as a table tennis table in the studio

The history: McFit refits

McFit had its first major refit and reorientation in 2012, when the concept moved from the original ‘affordable for all’ concept to be the ‘Home of Fitness’ – a change that was completed across the estate by 2017.

The pricing was still discount-scale, but the offering looked and felt more premium. Modular training systems were added to the gyms, which also had group exercise added in the shape of cyber training.

Fast forward to December 2023 and RSG opened the two pilots for the new-look club with a fresh concept and design. Following these successful pilots, the first completely new studio is expected to open in Cologne in the second quarter of 2024.

Look to the future

Following Schaller’s death, new co-CEOs, Dr Jobst Müller-Trimbusch & Hagen Wingertszahn told HCM their strategy was to remain ‘one of the most successful fitness companies in the world over the next 25 years’ by growing the portfolio: “We see the greatest potential in the diversity of our fitness club concepts,” they said. “Across the spectrum – from McFit to John Reed to Gold’s Gym and more – Rainer has managed to give each brand its own distinct personality. Every fitness concept delivers a completely different experience to its members. We plan to build on this and push it even further and it’s also possible that another brand will be added in the future if it fits well into our portfolio,” they said.

“Alongside the European market, we see the US as offering the greatest overall growth potential for RSG Group,” they explained, “We’re also planning further studio openings for Gold’s Gym, McFit and John Reed in their respective core markets across Europe and the US.”

Read the complete interview at www.HCMmag.com/RSG2

We’re planning further studio openings for Gold’s Gym, McFit and John Reed in their respective core markets
Dr Jobst Müller-Trimbusch & Hagen Wingertszahn / photo: RSG Group
McFit is still a volume business, but has plenty of equipment to avoid wait times Credit: photo: RSG GROUP
The first McFit will open in Cologne in Q2 2024 follow pilots in Austria and Germany Credit: photo: RSG GROUP
The new clubs have a social area with table tennis Credit: photo: McFit
Cardio areas have ascent trainers, climb mills, cross trainers, rowers, recumbent and seated bikes and treadmills Credit: photo: RSG GROUP
Strength training is well catered for, with dumbbells up to 50kg and half racks – among others Credit: photo: RSG GROUP
 


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SELECTED ISSUE
Health Club Management
2024 issue 3

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Leisure Management - McFit gets a makeover

Design

McFit gets a makeover


McFit, the original budget gym is undergoing a transformation with a new look and estate-wide overhaul, as Liz Terry reports

The new-look McFit has special workout areas for women, some with separate access photo: RSG GROUP
McFit is still a volume business, but has plenty of equipment to avoid wait times photo: RSG GROUP
The first McFit will open in Cologne in Q2 2024 follow pilots in Austria and Germany photo: RSG GROUP
The new clubs have a social area with table tennis photo: McFit
Cardio areas have ascent trainers, climb mills, cross trainers, rowers, recumbent and seated bikes and treadmills photo: RSG GROUP
Strength training is well catered for, with dumbbells up to 50kg and half racks – among others photo: RSG GROUP

When the late, great Rainer Schaller conceived the idea for McFit in the mid-90s, the health and fitness industry in Europe was approaching stagnation in its economic lifecycle and having boomed through the 80s and into the 90s, was starting to plateau, with decline not far off.

This general malaise was exacerbated by the recession that had gripped the world in the early 90s, meaning it was a volatile time for the sector.

The launch of McFit in 1997 was to change all that, resetting the industry and unlocking unbelievable areas of growth with its new budget pricing model that put health club use within reach of the majority of the population by largely removing price resistance, with Schaller having the ambition to make fitness training ‘affordable for all’.

The first location
The first McFit was located in Bavaria and as word about it spread through the industry, the club became a magnet for operators and investors, who were interested to see the new business model in action and understand its potential.

As it turned out, Schaller had a ten-year head start with McFit, but the following decade, entrepreneurs began to launch their own budget concepts, John Treharne at the The Gym Group in 2007; Jan Spaticchia with énergie and JJB with MiFit in 2008; Peter Roberts with PureGym and James Caan with Nuyuu in 2009; Spaticchia again at FitLess (which became Fit4Less) in 2010; and Mike Balfour’s Fitness First budget concept, Klick Fitness, in 2011 – the same year Rene Moos opened the first Basic-Fit. These were a few of the early pioneers. Some survived and thrived. Some didn’t.

But it’s hard to catch a first-mover, especially when that person is Rainer Schaller and they have a decade on the competition and so McFit scaled steadily, reaching 243 clubs by 2017, when HCM spoke to the top team (www.HCMmag.com/McFit2017).

Having pioneered the sector and grown the McFit brand, Schaller widened his remit, renaming the company – previously The McFit Group – to be the eponymous Rainer Schaller Group (RSG) and launching businesses and brands across numerous health and fitness verticals until his untimely death in October 2022, aged just 53.

These multiple concepts – the product of is creative imagination – included everything from the high-end John Reed and Heimat to John & Jane’s and Gold’s Gym. There was also a super-budget concept, HIGH5, which undercut McFit, as well as restaurants, night clubs, fit tech and nutrition businesses and modelling agencies within the diverse group.

Although many health club businesses have exceeded McFit in terms of scale, the brand is still lauded as a groundbreaker, so news that the estate is to have a major overall got HCM interested and here we share with you the new look and feel for the McFit estate – playful bright and social – which is currently being rolled out across all clubs following trials in Vienna, Austria and Heilbronn, Germany.

In addition to refitting the clubs, RSG continues to fine-tune its McFit portfolio, having just sold its 47 Spanish clubs to Basic-Fit, in a deal that concluded on 27 March.

McFit Mark III: What to expect

• Spacious womens’ areas with comprehensive strength training facilities. Some with separate access

•  A larger range of equipment

•  A bright, modern colour scheme with the main materials being steel, concrete and wood

•  More functional training: functional hubs, assault bikes, rowing ergometers, glute booster racks and functional towers

•  Cardio areas with treadmills, ascent trainers climb mills, cross trainers, recumbent and seated bikes and rowers

•  Strength areas with athletic half-racks including platform, reverse hyper extension, squat machine and dumbbells up to 50 kg

•  Special features such as a table tennis table in the studio

The history: McFit refits

McFit had its first major refit and reorientation in 2012, when the concept moved from the original ‘affordable for all’ concept to be the ‘Home of Fitness’ – a change that was completed across the estate by 2017.

The pricing was still discount-scale, but the offering looked and felt more premium. Modular training systems were added to the gyms, which also had group exercise added in the shape of cyber training.

Fast forward to December 2023 and RSG opened the two pilots for the new-look club with a fresh concept and design. Following these successful pilots, the first completely new studio is expected to open in Cologne in the second quarter of 2024.

Look to the future

Following Schaller’s death, new co-CEOs, Dr Jobst Müller-Trimbusch & Hagen Wingertszahn told HCM their strategy was to remain ‘one of the most successful fitness companies in the world over the next 25 years’ by growing the portfolio: “We see the greatest potential in the diversity of our fitness club concepts,” they said. “Across the spectrum – from McFit to John Reed to Gold’s Gym and more – Rainer has managed to give each brand its own distinct personality. Every fitness concept delivers a completely different experience to its members. We plan to build on this and push it even further and it’s also possible that another brand will be added in the future if it fits well into our portfolio,” they said.

“Alongside the European market, we see the US as offering the greatest overall growth potential for RSG Group,” they explained, “We’re also planning further studio openings for Gold’s Gym, McFit and John Reed in their respective core markets across Europe and the US.”

Read the complete interview at www.HCMmag.com/RSG2

We’re planning further studio openings for Gold’s Gym, McFit and John Reed in their respective core markets
Dr Jobst Müller-Trimbusch & Hagen Wingertszahn / photo: RSG Group

Originally published in Health Club Management 2024 issue 3

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