Pace McCamy, 51, was at a crossroads in life. Her oldest of four boys was 19, and the stay-at-home mom decided it was time to do something for herself, if for no other reason than to stave off the sadness of her children leaving the nest one by one.
“I had seen my mom get really sad and lonely when my brother and I left to go to college,” she recalls.
McCamy had always been active and fit, so finding and buying a fitness franchise appealed to her. A competitive ice skater for 17 years, she had embraced yoga and Pilates as go-to workouts, especially after a rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis in 2001 left her looking for ways to stay fit within her physical limits.
The less she moved, the more she hurt, so low-impact activities were a must.
“Over the course of time, things just kept getting taken away from me,” McCamy says. “I couldn’t run anymore. I was an avid tennis player, and that was really getting hard. And so I was always on the quest of looking for something that I could add instead of being taken away.”
McCamy says barre3, a combination of yoga, Pilates and ballet, appealed to her at first physically, then as a business opportunity at a time when Knoxville was a naked market, free of barre studios. She looked into a few options like Pure Barre, Barre Code and The Bar Method, but barre3 appealed most.
Today McCamy owns three barre3 franchise locations, two in Nashville and one in Knoxville. There are more than 700 barre studios around the country overall, and McCamy explains there is an appeal for the mainly-female clientele around the whole culture of classes, which are as much about building confidence and esteem as they are getting fit.
“Knoxville, we’re a little small town, but we want some cool stuff too,” McCamy says.
In fact, a competing barre franchise opened just a few months before she opened hers. But that’s OK, because the more exposure to barre workouts there are, she says, the better it will be for her business overall.
“A rising in tide lifts all ships, and in Knoxville we’re still trying to get people to come to understand what we are,” McCamy adds. “But in Nashville it is super busy and doing really well.”
Diane Mulloy, bought into the Franklin-based wellness franchise OsteoStrong, which she says is the fastest growing franchise in the state.
Founded in 2011, OsteoStrong is a osteo-genic weight loading wellness system that purports to help people of all ages and fitness levels enhance bone health, balance, overall strength and posture – all in less than 10 minutes a week.
The OsteoStrong system “enables you to place a very brief but adequate pressure on your muscularskeletal system. The moment your body senses the right amount of stimulus, it can respond by actually growing new bone and muscle tissue naturally …,” according to the company.
Internationally renowned life and business strategist Tony Robbins partnered with OsteoStrong in March of this year after trying the system with his wife and getting hooked to the results. Robbins’ goal is to aggressively grow the brand domestically and internationally.
“Today, OsteoStrong has over 60 franchisees sold with 40 units in 14 states, but with Tony’s partnership, we can supercharge expansion and help even more people nationally and globally,” said Kyle Zagrodzky, president of OsteoStrong, in a release.
Mulloy owned six OsteoStrong locations in Middle Tennessee including in Green Hills, Belle Meade and Hendersonville at one point, but recently sold her Williamson Country location. Elsewhere in the state, there are three in Memphis (not owned by Mulloy) and more in Knoxville.
Mulloy had previously owned a biodiesel business and admits she likes to be on the forefront of new and offbeat enterprises. But OsteoStrong had personal appeal, as well.
“My mother spent three years in assisted living, and [with] just all the fractures,” Mulloy points out.
Fitness franchise costs
- UFC Gym has been franchising since 2004. Initial franchise fee: $30,000-$50,000. Veterans get 10 percent off the franchise fee.
- barre3 has been franchising since 2010. Initial franchise fee: $45,000.
- OsteoStrong has been franchising since 2011. Initial franchise fee: $15,000.
- OrangeTheory has been franchising since 2010. Initial franchise fee: $49,500.
“Most of the people there are there because of fractures. The No. 1 cause of hospitalization in women over 55, is fractures, more than cancer, strokes or heart disease.”
Many fitness franchise owners seem to succeed when they are able to combine their business with a workout or wellness style they truly believe in.
Sean Patton had spent his entire adult life in the Army. A graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, he was a commissioned infantry officer and after some training, his first duty station was Fort Campbell.
“Then I was an Army officer for 10 years,” Patton says. “I spent the first half of that as an infantry officer in the 101st. I spent some time in Iraq with as a rifle platoon leader, scout and sniper platoon leader. Then I went to special forces selection, was selected after a couple years of training. Got my Green Beret. After that I went back to Fort Campbell with the Special Forces Group.”
There he commanded two different special forces as a captain and spent some time in Afghanistan. After 10 years, it was time for Patton to try a new challenge. Being a small business owner was his goal.
“Having no business industry experience, I thought a franchise might be a great first option because I have some support and a model that I can fall in on for the business specific side, and just hopefully, play to my strengths in terms of leadership and problem solving and all this, all those types of stuff, team building,” he points out.
He discovered the 4-year-old UFC Gym franchise company, when it was a year old. It was a brand-new concept in the franchise world, but Patton felt it really played to all of his strengths personally and professionally.
And it has paid off financially, too. Patton says that for the fiscal year, from September 2016 to September 2nd 2017, his Hendersonville outpost was ranked No. 1 out of 175 UFC Gym franchises in the country in terms of year-to-year revenue growth.
The franchise’s two-year anniversary is later this month. “So we grew by 56 percent in one year, and the second year was 46 percent,” Patton says.
UFC Gym is ranked No. 290 by “Entrepreneur’’ magazine’s Franchise 500 ranking. The ranking formula is based on system size, growth and financial strength and stability that includes cost and fees, training times, marketing and franchise support, brand strength, social media presence, years in business and franchisor audited statements.
Listed franchises must have had a minimum of 10 units open and operating as of July 31, 2016, with at least one franchise located in either the U.S. or Canada. The company also must be seeking new franchisees in the U.S. or Canada.
Orangetheory Fitness falls at No. 19 on that Entrepreneur franchise list.
Karen Meng opened the Nashville West location about two years ago and has experience tremendous growth compared to Year 1. Originally a member of the Brentwood location, investing in a wellness-based business appealed to the one-time nurse.
“At the age of 40, I found myself going through a divorce, three kids,” she says. “I was trying to discover how I was going to return to the workforce and be able to still be a mom and do everything that working moms do.”
Meng understands there is a bit of a fear factor involved with Orangetheory first-timers, the heart rate-monitored training designed to maintain a target zone that stimulates metabolism and increases energy.
Members could burn an estimated 500 to 1,000 calories during the one-hour workout, which is designed to keep burning calories for as many as 36 hours after.
Word of mouth and social media have fueled awareness about Orangetheory.
“It’s really rewarding to be able to see the transformation with people,” Meng adds. “We really strive on customer service, on making everybody just feel welcome.
“The scariest part is just walking through the front door. And all they need to do is show up and we’ll do the rest.”