Retro Fitness recently announced a new company initiative — Project LIFT — that aims to open 500 fitness clubs in 50 Black and Brown communities over the next five years. Here, Andrew Alfano, the CEO of Retro Fitness, shares about the project’s “why,” its goals and more.
CS: What is Project LIFT? What is the goal?
AA: Project LIFT is a new company initiative to open 500 health clubs in 50 Black and Brown communities across the country over the next five years. In partnership with the BlackRock Impact Opportunities Fund, and James Collins, the managing partner of Eastwood Capital Partners, 70 new Retro Fitness locations are now underway. This program marks the largest development deal in the history of Retro Fitness.
The goal of our Project LIFT initiative is to make affordable exercise, health and fitness more accessible to communities of color to help address disparities in social determinants of health. We are also eager to make a real impact by providing a true sense of community and expansive job opportunities in each location.
CS: Why did Retro feel this project was important?
AA: We feel this project is important because according to a study completed by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, African American and Non-Black Hispanic citizens have a higher obesity rate than other ethnic groups, regardless of socioeconomic status, which leads to side effects such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and many others that have only been amplified during the pandemic. Retro Fitness created this unrivaled program to help spearhead change, address rising health issues head on and bring affordable exercise, health and fitness solutions to Black and Brown communities.
CS: What has been the response so far to the project?
AA: The response we have received so far is extremely positive. By going into these communities to make an impact directly on their health through affordable exercise, we’re able to have a direct and open line of communication, accountability and support with each of them. We will be donating a percentage of franchisee’s royalties back to an organization within the community for the life of the business, which further supports our commitment to making a lasting, profound impact on the health club industry and the communities in which they serve. It’s important for us to be there for the communities we’re in and we look forward to welcoming others to join us on this journey.
What else would you like to share about this project that would be interesting to other club operators?
AA: Our goal for 500 health clubs in 50 Black and Brown communities over the next five years is aggressive and we are eager to meet that goal with the help of investors and franchisees who are looking to make a true impact on the health of these communities. To incentivize them to join us on our Project LIFT initiative, we are offering a waived franchise fee and 50% off year one royalties, as well the donation to a local organization within their community to help give back to the community each location serves. Additionally, we offer our franchisees a full, true suite of services that is not seen elsewhere including real estate site selection and negotiation, construction and delivery of a true turnkey box, dedicated area managers and a support center for training and development. We also offer services that consist of an in-house media agency, call center, and more, all to ensure franchisees and investors are supported from the start.