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The Australian fitness brand expanding into New Zealand is bringing a new direction to fitness.
There’s a new fitness option in town – bringing the “sense of community” that helped them conquer Australia.
Fitstop says its brand is “taking off” in New Zealand, where it has opened three new locations – in Hamilton, New Plymouth and Christchurch – and will open several more over the next 12 months.
Fitstop was started in Queensland in 2013 by former motocross rider Peter Hull who was impressed with a bespoke exercise program that helped him recover from injuries. He started his own gym, initially in his parents’ garage, and in 2017 he turned the brand into a franchise.
The company has increased membership by 70% and expects revenue to reach $37 million in the next fiscal year. It plans to open 10 new locations in the United States by mid-2023 and add to its existing network of over 90 gyms in Australia and New Zealand.
Celebrations are planned for the day it opens its 100th location later this year and lists the 20,000th active “Fitstopper.”
Fitstop sessions are 50 minute workouts, combining athletic and functional small group training principles to maximize performance. Their sessions, aptly named “Lift”, “Perform”, “Condition” and “Sweat”, take an integrated approach to fitness – appealing to people, often those who have exercised in the past, who know that being active makes them feel better.
The business has grown using a broad ownership model that has led to a 60% growth in the number of franchises in Australia and New Zealand. Hull, a recent Brisbane Young Entrepreneur Awards finalist, says: “We have a unique combination of first and foremost custom technology designed for owner-operators to drive business performance and manage memberships. This has attracted passionate business owners.
“Franchise owners are also passionate about getting fit, moving more, living life and performing at their best. That’s the strength behind building a dedicated community and moving forward.”
Another reason for Fitstop’s expected success: they know a thing or two about surviving tough times. In an industry where many companies have barely survived the pandemic, Fitstop has thrived in a positive way.
“What Fitstop has done that has worked so well is encourage a sense of community, and that’s the goal of what we do with the sites that open here,” the chief executive said. The company’s recently appointed New Zealander, Brendan Hurrell, is currently overseeing the creation of the franchises here, including the latest in New Plymouth.
An example of their clever thinking came during lockdowns in Australia; a newly developed app included a home workout regimen that allowed Fitstop members to stay on track with their goals even when they couldn’t hit the gym. While other gyms lost large numbers of members, Fitstop retained 80% of theirs.
The app is still a key part of the business, allowing members to receive support as well as book sessions, track their goals and achievements, and access information such as proper nutrition through a huge library of nutritious recipes.
It’s part of the Fitstop experience: “We want people to feel like they belong in a community, where they get real long-term fitness and wellness results, and gain a sense of accomplishment” , says Hurrell.
“It’s not just about following a six-week program that will help them lose some weight, it’s about combining the fundamentals of strength, metabolic conditioning and endurance training to produce results and then work to move them forward. All in an environment where they feel encouraged and supported.”
Hurrell knows why being fit and healthy is crucial. At 19, he was struggling with his mental health: “I was overweight and when I looked in the mirror, I didn’t like what I saw.”
He developed a passion for exercise that completely changed his life: “The high performance training I’ve had, along with the support of some great mentors, has made a huge difference for me,” says Hurrell, whose weight went from 140 kg to 116 kg. Now 33, he started thinking about what he wanted to do next – and Fitstop seemed like the perfect career progression.
“A lot of us Kiwis played sports when we were younger. Then life gets in the way and all of a sudden you work long hours and you have kids and you put your own health and your wellness on the back burner,” says Hurrell. “We want to empower our members to rediscover their passion for fitness.”
Fitstop’s approach often reminds members what it’s like to be part of the sport side, to train together to achieve a goal, and it encourages a sense of camaraderie, Hurrell says.
“We want our locations to be the kind of place you look forward to going to train, not just because you see great results, but because you love being there.”
In a year, there will be at least 10 Fitstops across the country.
For more information, visit: www.fitstop.com
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