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Description: 3,000+ clubs worldwide. Anytime Fitness offers members convenient and affordable 24hr fitness. With the support of an experienced global franchisor, you can invest in this proven, low cost fitness franchise and join in our success. Opportunities: Franchise opportunities available UK and Ireland. Business Type: Franchise. Minimum Investment: £110,000. Financing Assistance: Yes, through a third party. Training Provided: Yes. Part-time: Yes. BFA Associate Member: Yes.

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Case Study: Patricia and Dave Bell, Anytime Fitnesss Winchester

Perfect balance

Trish BellWe hear how launching an Anytime Fitness franchise has helped Patricia and Dave Bell spend more time with their growing family...

The perennial search for a career which provides the perfect work/life balance was brought into sharp focus for Hampshire resident Patricia Bell in January 2013. Having just given birth to her second child, the NHS physiotherapist wanted to spend more time with her growing family whilst still playing an active part in a health industry she loved.

Along with husband Dave, who was working long hours as a finance director in London, Patricia decided to look into starting a business which would provide the couple with the autonomy and flexibility they desired. The search took the pair to a franchise exhibition in Heathrow in June 2013, where Anytime Fitness immediately stood out from the crowd thanks to its values of providing members with convenient, affordable fitness in a friendly environment.

With 96 per cent of all of the franchise’s clubs seeing success and a large support network in place for new owners, the Bell family were confident about the level of help they would be offered. And for Patricia, who was on maternity leave from her NHS job, the chance to continue pursuing her passion for health and fitness was another big attraction.

She said: “The opportunity to run our own business and still be involved in helping people reach their health and fitness goals was extremely appealing. Dave and I were investing our savings into opening the business and so it was important not only to us, but for our children’s future and financial security. It was daunting, but we felt reassured that we were in safe hands with Anytime Fitness.”

Vibrant business 

Once Patricia and Dave had secured the funding they needed to make their Anytime Fitness dream a reality, the couple secured an ideal site in the Hampshire city of Winchester and, by April 2014, had opened their doors to the club’s first members. In the 18 months since launching the club, the Bells have spent time finding the right staff and working towards attracting 1,000 members – a target they hope to have reached by the end of 2015.

With Winchester being home to a thriving university, the couple have also worked hard to appeal to the vibrant local population through events including a Halloween-themed club night – complete with a DJ and spooky decorations – and a partnership with restaurant chain Zizzi to provide members with discounted food and drink. Patricia added: “People between the ages of 18 and 26 are a key target audience for us, so it’s crucial that we make an effort to cater to their interested and provide them with a different experience to our competitors." 

“Events such as the Halloween club night are a great way of doing that and it definitely helped to increase attendance on the Friday night, which is typically not a busy time for us. Having said that, it’s important that we don’t alienate any of our members by going too far. It’s about finding a balance and creating a strong sense of community across our membership base. This was typified on Halloween when one of our eldest members, who is in his 70s, came into the gym and really embraced the occasion by mixing with younger people. He loved that we had done something special.”

Practical support

Patricia’s background as a physiotherapist is another selling point for members in Winchester, as she is able to provide advice and guidance to those in the latter stages of recovery from injury, helping them to reach and maintain full fitness. With her eldest son now at school, she is relishing the chance to be even more flexible with working and has big plans for her physiotherapy provision.

The Bells have joined forces with other franchisees to open two more clubs since starting up in Winchester and Patricia hopes to spread her services in the future. She added: “It’s a new experience to be involved with people a year or two down the line and it’s great to see the passion they possess for their health and wellbeing. Further down the line, I would love to create a dedicated space in one of our other clubs where I can focus on physiotherapy and be there to support members who require it. Hopefully this will add to the supportive atmosphere we’re trying to create at the club. This is important to the brand, but also to Dave and I."

Healthy decision 

Establishing Anytime Fitness Winchester has required a lot of hard work from the Bells – including members of their extended family – but Patricia is adamant that starting the franchise is a decision she and Dave are delighted to have taken. “We would never have been able to achieve what we have done in the past year without the help of my mum who has been there to look after the kids when needed, or the rest of our family who have been our support network when things have been particularly stressful or busy. All in all, I can safely say it has definitely been worth it, right from those early days when we first came up with the idea. We are already seeing the benefits of making a change and this will only continue as the club becomes more established.”

 

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