The Curves phenomenon -- 8,000-plus centers in 11 years does count as that, doesn't it? -- has spawned a secondary trend: The rise of other women's-only centers of all types springing up to capitalize on the Curves buzz.
The latest club to enter the franchise arena isn't looking to capitalize on the Curves market, but rather to attract women not being served by it or by similar quick-fitness concepts. Fit For Her, based in Tulsa, Okla., is looking to reach women that are looking for more than the traditional hydraulic equipment-based women's centers emphasizing 30-minute circuit programs.
"These centers offer real fitness equipment versus hydraulic equipment so women can get a more complete workout. We can not only reach women that may not want to join a co-ed facility initially, but also those that have 'graduated' from a Curves type facility and want to continue improving their health and fitness," Ryan Schoolfield, owner of Fit For Her, told SNEWSÂ®. "We also offer more in terms of amenities, hours and more to both members and franchisees."
Currently, the 3-year-old operation is in two Oklahoma locations, but already has five more on tap for Oklahoma and others slated for Texas and Missouri. Schoolfield, who also owns a soon-to-be franchised co-ed concept, Access Fitness Centers, said a slow and controlled nationwide rollout is in the works for Fit For Her.
Thomas Eggers' Impact2 company, based in Kansas City, Kan., has taken on the exclusive strength-machine manufacturing role for the growing chain -- a situation that keeps the 3-year-old company very busy these days, Eggers told us. In addition to more traditional weight stack machines by Eggers' company, the Fit For Her concept also has free weight products from Troy USA and cardio equipment from SportsArt Fitness.
"We still do a little retail, but we are a 'B' vendor and wound up with a lot of 'C' and 'D' level dealers," Eggers, president of Impact2, told SNEWSÂ®. "Unfortunately, a lot of those guys are slow to order and even slower to pay. This provides us with the chance to partner with a top-flight outfit that is growing and giving us plenty of business."
That business at Impact2 may continue to grow as Fit For Her ramps up its franchising as it rides on the popularity wave of small women's- and men's-only centers, and it may take more of its equipment business in-house through Eggers' company.
"We have been working together with Fit For Her for two or three years now and still do some retail. As the clubs continue to roll out we are looking at outfitting four to six clubs a month, and that is a lot of production," said Eggers, adding an additional tease: "We also will have a good cardio line available by this summer so we will be pretty busy as the concept grows."
SNEWSÂ® View: In the copycat women's-only fitness center market, a concept like Fit For Her that bridges the gap between the limitations of a hydraulic-equipment-exclusive facility and the full-blown co-ed club could do well if marketed and managed correctly. Of course, we saw this kind of popularity of small clubs, including women's-only centers, a number of years ago as the concept rode high then fell with a resounding flop. But we think society may now be needier for this kind of less intimidating place to find fitness assistance and uncomplicated workouts. And as long as they don't become the fitness center equivalent of Starbuck's and Subway (you know, you see one every time you blink), there is a good chance for the centers to grow. Heck, we've seen these kinds of facilities in the tiniest of 'burbs in the hinterlands of Nevada and Montana where the towns seems to have nothing more than a gas station and a market. This we like, because these minutely populated areas can now indeed have access to the fitness they want and, we expect, need. The clubs of this ilk are also a good market for mainstream fitness suppliers -- as we see with Troy, Impact2 and SportsArt Fitness now getting involved.