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Gym over burger: Anytime Fitness named number one franchise in the world over the big fast food chains

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Anytime Fitness, the world’s largest and fastest-growing co-ed fitness club chain with nearly 3,000 gyms serving more than 2.6 million members on five continents, was recently ranked number one on Entrepreneur magazine’s annual Top Global Franchise list.

Averaging an incredible growth rate of more than 300 new gyms a year for each of the past eight years, Anytime Fitness will soon open its 3,000th franchised unit – in fewer years (13) than it took other franchising legends like McDonald’s, Subway, 7-Eleven and Pizza Hut to reach that same milestone.

To compile the Top Global Franchises ranking, Entrepreneur started with each company’s 2015 Franchise 500® score – based on objective, quantifiable criteria including system size, growth and financial strength and stability – then adjusted to give extra weight to international size and growth.

Why is Anytime Fitness doing so well?

Anytime Fitness ranking at number one shows just how much the billion dollar fitness industry is continuing to flex its muscles.

IBISWorld Market Research 2015 found that “rising health awareness and obesity levels have triggered further uptakes of gym memberships.”

This explains the recent fitness industry boom and why this fitness club chain has surpassed the fast food franchises for the first time on the global list.

Oh wow, gym is finally triumphing over burger!

And consumers are flocking towards fitness clubs that offer affordability and convenience, steering away from the traditional upmarket health club model.

People care more about low-cost gym memberships and having clubs located closer to the home or office, so that it easier to find time out of their busy schedules to exercise.

The IBIS World findings confirm this shift, reporting that “franchises like Anytime Fitness have grown exponentially over the past five years, attracting customers with their affordability and accessibility.”

How did Anytime Fitness reach Australia?

Brother and sister team Justin and Jacinta McDonell (pictured) grew up in the fitness industry, with their parents running clubs when they were young. The two opened their first club straight after school and have been in the industry since 1992.

When they were considering taking the Master Franchise opportunity for Australia, they looked at two different gym franchises that were already successful in the US and also considered going at it alone.

After a lot of research and consideration, they settled with Anytime Fitness for the benefits that would come with its infrastructure, marketing and I.T. support and brand.

The duo launched the highly successful US franchise into Australia in 2008, and it has since become the fastest growing segment of the world’s fastest growing fitness chain.

Anytime Fitness Australia has the largest group of clubs open outside of the US, and is the biggest health club chain in Australia, currently operating in 411 locations nationally with over 500 territories sold to date.

Not a bad result for a business that opened its first franchise in the New South Wales country town of Gunnedah in 2008, population 7,888.

“We chose Gunnedah as a test location for the network because the site fit the global business model – it was located next to a supermarket. The rent was also low, allowing a relatively risk-free first foray into the market,” Justin told Anthill. Just two months later, they opened a second gym in Wodonga on the NSW/Victorian border.

As to how they have managed to sustain such stellar growth since launch, Justin revealed that many franchisees own multiple franchises – the top franchisee has 10 gyms.

“When selecting potential franchisees, we look for a passion for health and fitness, good business acumen or previous sales and marketing experience,” he stated.

Anytime Fitness Australia plans to further expand their already extensive club network, with more new club openings scheduled in all states throughout the rest of the year.

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