How do you become the No. 1 global franchise?
Anytime Fitness expands its sights into Hong Kong
“In Asia Pacific, just 4% of the population has gym memberships,” says John Phillips, Director of Anytime Fitness in Hong Kong.
What this numbers signals, for any entrepreneur, is a business opportunity. This is especially true in Hong Kong, a place increasingly aware of health and fitness. This is a trend picked up by not just chains — KFit, which functions as a class pass for fitness — for example, also recently expanded into Hong Kong.
Franchise Anytime Fitness recently ranked #1 on Entrepreneur‘s “Top Global Franchise” list and is the fastest growing fitness club franchise in the world, with more than 2.5 million members and 3,000 clubs worldwide.
As the name suggests, Anytime Fitness offers its clientele fitness at any hours of the day or night. Its facilities are open 24/7, made possible by members’ access cards. Ease of mind is secured by cameras, meaning, don’t plan on sneaking in and throwing a birthday party at 3am. Virtual classes like yoga are even available, for those craving namaste at 11pm.
“Hong Kong’s health club market has traditionally centered around its business districts, but we want to expand into communities, and offer a place for real people to work out,” says Phillips.
This global franchise is about to open its third branch this year; they have two locations in Sai Ying Pun and Kowloon City. In Hong Kong, there are currently 110 health clubs, and Phillips wants this number to increase, with Anytime Fitness leading the way.
Maurice Levine, Anytime Fitness Master Franchisee for Hong Kong, Singapore, China, Malaysia and the Philippines sat down with EHK and talked expansion plans.
Are you curating Anytime Fitness to be different in Hong Kong?
The business model is unique in Hong Kong. We have a smaller foot print, and we are a community-based gym. Meaning, we want to go into areas that aren’t over saturated with gym facilities yet.
Our price tag is HK $500 a month. We want to make fitness affordable. We want to inspire people to come to the gym, and give people access to get fit. We don’t want to be a big box gym and continually chase people.
How did you adjust to Hong Kong’s market?
When we first got here, our top concern was rent. In Hong Kong, most commercial spaces want to look for ground floor locations for high visibility. Our approach was to look for spaces in residential areas, say in Kowloon, that were located on the second floor. We ended up having a lot of conversations with landlords that we normally wouldn’t need.
Are you finding that people actually work out at night?
People in Hong Kong work hard and have long hours. We find that 30% of the people coming into our center are working out after 11pm, that’s great!
What was one of the biggest lessons that you learned?
We really learned to interrogate reality. You have to question the most common advice you get. For example, we were told we’d never get a lease longer than 3 years. That turned out not to be true. So one lesson is to be savvy about how you negotiate rentals. But also be humble about what works in the culture.
What’s advice you would give other small businesses?
If something’s not working, change. Don’t do the same thing over and over again and expect different results. Offer a good product, good value, and good service. That said, I’m a big supporter of franchises. Go into a system that exists. Go into a business where all the wrinkles are ironed out over years.
This interview with Anytime Fitness was conducted and condensed by Hannah Leung of EntrepreneurHK (EHK).