The 10 biggest gym franchises in the Australian market

After a phase for a few years where multiple gym brands were booming and opening everywhere, what does the market look like now?

The gym franchise niche is one that is characterised by intense competition. Equally, finding the differentiation amongst the gym franchise brand offerings out there, also proves challenging.

Yet, having your own gym franchise has still certainly been an attractive niche for a while. Interestingly, functional fitness centres and the like, have arguably grown more attractive for some time now as an alternative, with a generally lower cost entry into the fitness industry for would-be franchise owners.

The 10 biggest fitness franchises in Australia list will also follow shortly.

We created this list to help make your research and decision making process easier. We'll update as the market changes, and as we get more information for you.

1. Anytime Fitness - 518 locations (AU)

An international brand founded in 2002 and headquartered in the USA, and now operating in more than 50 countries, it expanded into the Australian market in 2008. Around 40% of the brands' Australian locations are located in NSW. The brand falls under the Collective Wellness Group, that also has the XTEND barre brand as well in it's stable.

The chain experienced fast growth in Australia from start in 2008 to 400+ locations by 2016. A look at their current available franchise opportunities, it appears that WA is a region of significant focus for new growth in Australia. Of note, the brand reports that nearly 48% of existing franchisees own more than one location.

A 24/7 gym operation.

  • CEO = Nicole Noye (CEO), Justin McDonell (Co-founder & Chair)
  • Headquarters located = Lane Cove, NSW
  • Franchising Since = 2008 ( in Australia)
  • Investment = starts at $350k - $450k (not including equipment cost / rental)
  • Initial Franchise fee = included in Investment cost
  • Ongoing Fees = flat fee structure $ TBA | marketing $250 mth
  • Training = 5 days

Social Media Presence 

  • facebook = 41,049 followers
  • Instagram = 19.7K followers
  • Twitter = 110.1K followers
  • LinkedIn = 4,518 followers

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2. Snap Fitness - 218 locations (AU)

An international brand founded in 2003 and headquartered in the USA. Lift Brands, the parent company of Snap Fitness, also operates other fitness concepts 9Round, STEELE 365, and Fitness on Demand. The Snap Fitness brand entered the Australian market in 2009.

Approximately 40% of the brands Australian locations are in QLD, with the majority of new locations currently listed for growth opportunities are in NSW. Multiple re-sale of existing locations are in the Perth and Brisbane markets.

The brand claims its positions against its competitors is one that offers 'flexibility in offerings, layout and size to suit a local market, and the franchise owners' personality'.

A 24/7 gym operation.

  • CEO = Chris Caldwell (CEO, Australia) Ty Menzies (Global - Lift Brands)
  • Headquarters located = Brisbane, QLD
  • Franchising Since = 2009 (in Australia)
  • Investment = $350k - $500k
  • Initial Franchise fee = $60k
  • Ongoing Fees = Marketing $190 per month | other fees TBA
  • Training = 5 day intensive

Social Media Presence 

  • facebook = 19,682 followers
  • Instagram = 5,744 followers
  • Twitter = 1,438 followers
  • LinkedIn = 18,412 (global) followers

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3. Plus Fitness - 207 locations 

An Australian brand founded in 1996, with international licenses sold to India and New Zealand. Around 60% of locations in Australia are in NSW.

Plus Fitness is clearly positioning itself as a low cost option in comparison to it's competition. Indeed, it's pricing range indication sees it's total entry cost of approximately $350k including gym fit-out AND equipment, is significantly lower than it's larger and near competitors. This difference alone would likely make it a key option on the list of many considering investment in the niche at this level.

Additionally, the focus in marketing collateral on low staff model and low ongoing costs continues this low cost thread. As far as the research in compiling this 10 biggest gym franchises data, Plus Fitness in comparison to most is also highly transparent on costs, with the initial investment on ongoing monthly cost in your franchise highly promoted.

A 24/7 gym operation.

  • CEO = John Fuller (founder) Nigel Miller (Co-owner)
  • Headquarters located = Sydney, NSW
  • Franchising Since = 2011 (founded 1996)
  • Investment = $350k
  • Initial Franchise fee = NA - inclusive with investment cost
  • Ongoing Fees = $910 month (also saw $895mth listed elsewhere)
  • Training = Initial 4 days

Social Media Presence 

  • facebook = local branch followers
  • Instagram = 5,050 followers
  • Twitter = 1,317 followers
  • LinkedIn = 889 followers

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4. Jetts Fitness - 190 locations

Heavily presenting themselves as 'An Australian Success Story', the brand also promotes the claim that they are Australia's 'most loved gym'. The first Jetts Fitness opened at Helensvale on the Gold Coast in 2007, and has since expanded internationally to The Netherlands, New Zealand, Thailand, the UK, and Vietnam.

The Jetts Fitness brand was acquired by Quadrant in 2016, and formed Fitness and Lifestyle Group, which has in it's portfolio of brands: Fitness First Australia, Goodlife Health Clubs Australia, Barry's Bootcamp Asia-Pacific, California Fitness & Yoga, California Centuryon, Yoga Plus, UFC Gym and ERI International Clinic and Zap Fitness.

Of interest, was promoting on their franchise marketing platform, that they have " many new locations identified..." by a specialist territory mapping company in the franchise sector (Spectrum Analysis). Potentially to help overcome any thought that Australia is over serviced by gym concepts. The new locations available is also coupled with information on a new training concept said to be sparking attention in gym goers.

BTW - a great franchise information website, really nicely put together and full of great story telling about the brand!

A 24/7 gym operation.

  • CEO = Elaine Jobson ( Brendon and Cristy Levenson - founders)
  • Headquarters located = Moolalooba, QLD
  • Franchising Since = 2007
  • Investment = $550,000k – $700,000k
  • Initial Franchise fee = TBA
  • Ongoing Fees = TBA
  • Training = 5 Day induction

Social Media Presence 

  • facebook = 39,988 followers
  • Instagram = 8,111 followers
  • Twitter = 2,637 followers
  • LinkedIn = 2,098 followers

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5. Fernwood Fitness - 69 locations

Fernwood was very much a trail blazer in the market for dedicated womens health and fitness since launching in 1989. One of two brands in this list operating exclusively for women. The brand has maintained that firm positioning in the market, and is continuing to drive a message that they are "The leading expert in womens health and fitness". 

The balance of locations throughout major states is quite even, with WA the outlier with some room for growth in that market relative to other territories.

Their investment prospectus is easily available on their franchise website - a big tick for transparency! But is just lacking some key investment detail still.

They have launched Fernwood Ultra, which is a premium sister brand according to the business. From the outside, it appears the brand has reacted to add on modern class and program offerings to supplement the 'traditional' facility, due to the undeniable competition from all kinds of functional fitness type concepts in the market over recent years.

  • CEO = Dianna Williams (founder)
  • Headquarters located = Melbourne, Victoria
  • Franchising Since = 1994
  • Investment = $450k to $500k
  • Initial Franchise fee = $55k
  • Ongoing Fees = 5% advertising fee  & 7% royalty fee
  • Training = TBA

Social Media Presence 

  • facebook = 71,612 followers
  • Instagram = 33.7K followers
  • Twitter = 3,010 followers
  • LinkedIn = 3,451 followers

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6. EFM Health Clubs - 57 locations

An interesting one that we debated whether to include in this gym list, or our 'fitness franchise' list, and it could have gone either way:-) A self-described boutique gym with more than 50% of their locations currently in SA. The key difference here is that they specialise in running health clubs in hospitals and schools with personalised training.

A very interesting approach with an immediate pitch for potential franchise partners on having "...your own gym franchise with no rent." And their website listed 11 locations with existing membership bases and equipment in relation to this. Although, some locations have a 'low rent' indicator as not all are no rent.

The brand also has a conversion strategy running where they are prompting existing stand alone personal training fitness studio owners to contact. This is a common approach across many franchise sector niches, with the goal of a franchise model overlaying the system to help the stand alone business owner become more profitable.

I think the brand has an interesting approach, but the presentation of the offer is lacking for a prospect, as it is hard to understand what it is exactly they offer, and how they are offering it. Fee's and costs are also lacking, so the overall transparency on what is such a different offer to the rest of the market is not ideal.

  • CEO = Peter Rohde
  • Headquarters located = Adelaide, SA
  • Franchising Since = 1991
  • Investment = from $55k
  • Initial Franchise fee = TBA
  • Ongoing Fees = TBA
  • Training = 5 days

Social Media Presence 

  • facebook = 4,036 followers
  • Instagram = 662 followers
  • Twitter = 164 followers
  • LinkedIn = 421 followers

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7. Curves - 56 locations

Founded in Texas in 1992, the founders introduced the 30 minute fitness concept and a place exclusively for women. With expansion to 59 countries, the brand came to Australia and achieved significant market penetration. However, it has significantly receded over a number of years. 

Tracking location numbers back through the years (which is not always easy to do), sees reports of more recently having approximately 140 locations in Australia / NZ in 2018, where that number is now closer to 60-65 locations combined. It's understood that the number was significantly higher several years prior.

The look and feel of the business in it's customer facing page is essentially local Australian. Yet the franchise web presence 'buy a curves' for would-be investors here, is entirely Americanised, with all American franchise owner and corporate testimonials etc. This approach is hard to understand.

  • CEO = Edel Kilmartin (Director Operations AU)
  • Headquarters located = Wembley, WA
  • Franchising Since = 1999
  • Investment = from $80k
  • Initial Franchise fee = included in investment
  • Ongoing Fees = TBA
  • Training = 1 week and 2 days in-studio

Social Media Presence 

  • facebook = 335,609 (global) followers
  • Instagram = 9,513 (global) followers
  • Twitter = 10K followers
  • LinkedIn = 10,859 (global) followers

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8. Vision Personal Training - 55 locations

"Many franchise owners receive 200% return on their investment year on year." that's quite a statement from VisionPT on their website that should get the attention of most looking to invest in this niche. This type of statement characterises the brands presentation to potential franchise owners with a heavy emphasis on the financial performance of the business and metrics.

A personalised training approach to the business (obviously), and is characteristic of a number of the brands in the space taking the personalised option as the point of difference for franchise partners looking for that fulfilment in what they do, as opposed to the arguable 'member numbers' approach of the bigger gym alternatives.

NSW, VIC and QLD are clearly areas of desired growth with the business having up to 20 locations as opportunities available in each of those states. The brand has also expanded into NZ, yet approximately 65% of locations are in NSW currently.

  • CEO = Andrew Simmons (founder)
  • Headquarters located = Caringbah, NSW
  • Franchising Since = 1999 (founded) franchising 2004
  • Investment = $250k to $350k
  • Initial Franchise fee = included in investment
  • Ongoing Fees = marketing fee TBA & royalty is a flat fee on a sliding scale
  • Training = TBA

Social Media Presence 

  • facebook = 12,735 followers
  • Instagram = 1,704 followers
  • Twitter = 270 followers
  • LinkedIn = 1,272 followers

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9. Genesis Health + Fitness - 39 locations

Part of the Belgravia Group, the Genesis Health + Fitness chain has 19 locations in VIC, and 10 in both QLD and NSW respectively. In an interesting twist to the other brands in this list, Genesis has company owned, franchised and joint venture operated locations operating under the franchise system.

With a broad offering of facilities for members , and with a mixed opportunity approach to opening gyms, this could well be an interesting brand to watch into the future.

A 24/7 gym operation.

  • CEO = Ian Jensen-Muir
  • Headquarters located = Melbourne, VIC
  • Franchising Since = 1997
  • Investment = from $400k
  • Initial Franchise fee = TBA
  • Ongoing Fees = TBA
  • Training = TBA

Social Media Presence 

  • facebook = 19,027 followers
  • Instagram = 3,643 followers
  • Twitter = 1,205 followers
  • LinkedIn = 1,795 followers

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10. Stepz Fitness - 13 locations

The brand has adapted to a hybrid model to its 24 hour model with the addition of a functional fitness and group training membership, along with a re-branding the group is executing. The brand has been operating for around a decade, and with the disruption in fitness with functional and group training, the hybrid with the 24 hour operation is a refreshing approach.

The interesting thing for Stepz Fitness will be in achieving the re-branding and transformation of studios, and gaining momentum to add more at the same time.

A 24/7 gym operation.

  • CEO = Sam Waller
  • Headquarters located = Paddington, NSW
  • Franchising Since = 2016
  • Investment = $200k - $275k
  • Initial Franchise fee = TBA
  • Ongoing Fees = TBA
  • Training = TBA

Social Media Presence 

  • facebook = 4,542 followers
  • Instagram = 3,856 followers
  • Twitter = 76 followers
  • LinkedIn = 137 followers

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Note: And of course, please contact the brands direct for the most up to date information, as while we've done our best to be as accurate as possible, we know some of this information can be a moving target at times unfortunately!