Women’s-only fitness franchise elements® Fitness announced a multiple-unit expansion implementing this fall in the Northeast. The expansion will add three additional clubs to elements® resume in Massachusetts. Chris Palumbo, the founder of elements® Fitness, shared with Club Solutions why his franchise is different from other women’s-only gyms.
CS: How is elements® fitness different from other women’s-only gyms?
CP: This is a question we are asked very frequently, until someone visits one of our clubs. elements® was designed to be a lifestyle brand, meaning that we focus on a total member experience, more than simply the workout or the gym visit. In our marketing we say ‘elements® is more than just a gym … it’s a lifestyle!’ This translates into us being able to offer an entire suite of wellness and transformation products in addition to memberships. Our clubs offer the full-service membership options, along with branded product lines, online tools and services, at-home coaching and more. Members perceive us as their trusted lifestyle expert, which translates to higher revenue per member and better retention.
CS: If I were a potential franchisee, why would I want to pick elements® Fitness as a club to franchise?
CP: elements®, first and foremost, is a very strong brand. Even in new markets, the brand quickly gains popularity among our core audience, and we use powerful community building and retention programs to help grow the initial membership base quickly. We operate in a relatively competition-free niche of the market, and have the benefit of higher retention levels.
The elements® membership model is one of “customizing your program” via add-ons. Our base membership price is extremely competitive (even with low price models) and members can add or remove services (switch plans), very similar to the way a cell phone plan is typically setup. In terms of our team, we have a very seasoned branding and operations team, with real-world experience in owning and operating clubs. We spend quite a bit of time in the field making sure the member experience is right, and help to track each club’s performance in real time via a brand dashboard. Franchisees — whether they are new or seasoned operators — will find many valuable branded programs, exclusive product lines and marketing tools, which they can simply tap into.
CS: In June, you announced continued expansion into the Middle East. Why do you think the Middle East is a wise area for the brand to invest?
CP: There is tremendous potential for fitness, wellness and supplements in the Middle East. These are markets with high disposable income, but in many cases lack the service options that we take for granted here in the U.S. American brands do extraordinarily well overseas, so for brands such as elements®, launching flagship clubs in that region positions us as a leading lifestyle and fitness brand for women.
In many Middle Eastern cultures, there is separation between women and men, so women-centric clubs such as elements® are needed to service the population. We are adding more amenities, such as a members lounge and a full thinspa® to our newest location in Saudi Arabia, making it a wellness destination for members. The initial response from consumers is one of excitement — the club has been very well received.
Additional locations are planned across the Middle East, including a signature BalanceDiet Club in Dubai. We are also preparing for a substantial launch into Latin America, by hiring a multilingual team in our Miami offices and beginning to translate the brand materials. International markets represent huge growth sectors both for elements® and for many U.S. brands.
CS: What are your expectations for the franchise’s future?
CP: This is possibly the ideal time to be in the fitness (and wellness) industries. Never before has fitness been so mainstream, and this will only continue. elements® has growth plans via two channels: our elements® clubs as well as our online properties. We will be growing the footprint of the brand into strategic U.S. and international markets, as well as into communities with our innovative lineup of amenities and products. This fall, we are opening five new U.S. locations, as well as showcase clubs in Saudi Arabia, Canada and Latin America.
Interview by Rachel Zabonick