In a competitive fitness franchise market, HITIO Gym stands out as a new entrant to the UK with a robust business model that looks to maximise the growing interest in family fitness and capitalise on the increased participation in combat sports
Established in Norway in 1998 by entrepreneurs Per Christian Pedersen and Fredrik Bjertnæs, HITIO Gym has evolved from small taekwondo centres into one of Norway’s largest and most successful fitness chains.
Combining a traditional gym and studio offering with combat sports training, HITIO Gym’s distinctive format enables the company to extend its targeting to include traditional gym goers and fitness members alongside those interested in martial arts training, including children aged five-plus.
Now, HITIO Gym has officially arrived in the UK with the opening of the first site in January 2020 in Hoxton, central London and with a major pipeline of openings planned throughout 2020.
Leading the HITIO Gym takeover in the UK are two global health and fitness club industry heavyweights with 50-plus years’ experience between them, Mark Chambers, CEO, and Simon Hayes, UK Manager Director.
On the vision for HITIO Gym, Mark explains: “We announced our international expansion in 2018 and following the opening of our first UK site, we believe we are set to make a major impact on the domestic fitness market.
“Our concept is truly unique and offers franchisees a clear alternative to other fitness chains and has enormous commercial potential. Our vision is to engage all members of the family in fitness related activities by including martial arts classes for children as well as adults as a core membership offer.”
Everyone is welcome at HITIO Gym
HITIO Gym’s unique franchise proposition is underpinned by its sustainable business model built upon its ‘Four Pillars of Success’: children, parents, the martial arts community and traditional gym users.
Unlike other gym chains, parents can work out while their children take their martial arts class, complemented by a schedule that uses the studio space at traditional off-peak times for gyms, eg midweek, after school and weekends.
“Our four clearly identifiable opportunities mean our per-member yield is higher and so break-even threshold for members is lower, so our franchisees are not reliant on hitting overly ambitious membership targets,” Mark says. “Our focus is on creating sustainable, profitable businesses, supported by great pre-sales planning, so the gym is already at break-even by the time it opens the doors.
“As a parent myself, I know the value parents put on teaching their children life skills and through martial arts we are able to develop these key physical and emotional skills, which in a digital age we know parents want and will pay for.”
From inception into the UK market, both Mark and Simon have built a network of trusted suppliers.
“We have made sure that we have sourced the best suppliers in the industry for our franchisees, including the best gym equipment, flooring, fit-out, signage and the marketing support to ensure we maximise the gym’s opening,” Mark explains.
“Our aim for every franchisee is to provide genuine ‘best in class’ providers with ‘best in class’ direct support from HITIO.” In recent months, HITIO Gym has invested heavily in its UK team to reinforce this commitment.
Charlie Blunsdon has now joined the team as National Training and Business Development Manager and is responsible for coordinating the training and development of new franchisees to ensure a successful roll out of each gym. The team have also recruited a specialist Pre-Sales Manager (starting March 2020), who will work directly with each site throughout the 20-week pre-sales phase to ensure each club maximises its membership sales prior to opening and through the first full month of operation.
HITIO Gym has ambitious plans to become one of the biggest gym brands in the UK and Europe, with 500 clubs open by the end of 2024.
As Simon Hayes explains, the team are determined that its first site in the UK will prove to be a catalyst for a spectacular 2020: “The opening of HITIO Gym Hoxton was a landmark moment for the brand and we are now looking to execute our expansion plans.
“In 2020 we plan to open more than 20 sites across the UK, with 11 sites starting pre-sales by the end of June.”
On signing up new franchisees, Simon comments: “Our aim is to work with a group of franchisees who we can support to open multiple clubs over the next three-four years. We want franchisees that are ambitious, but also buy into our brand and our values. Its’s a really exciting time for HITIO and all our new franchisees.”
HITIO Gym launches in the UK: Welcome to HITIO Gym hoxton
HITIO Gym Hoxton opened its doors as the brand’s first UK gym at the end of January 2020.
Already partners in property management, franchisees Matt Blair and Tony Beck partnered with previous Gym Manager Tim Greenaway to open the first HITIO Gym.
The opening was fast forwarded to just a 12-week fit-out period, as the central team worked hard to secure a previous gym site in Hoxton as part of the impressive Gainsborough Studios residential and commercial complex.
Now just over a full month into operation, the gym is already profitable and alongside the core fitness membership, martial arts membership is already at 25 per cent, meaning a significant increase on the per member yield, with children’s martial arts classes bringing in more parents and family members and opening up more revenue streams.
On opening a HITIO Gym, Matt says: “The HITIO Gym concept enables us to target gym goers, fitness enthusiasts, those with a keen interest in martial arts and families who have children who want to learn a martial art.
“We’ve had a great start and we are now determined to maximise all the opportunities the brand and the model enables, building on the core membership, alongside our martial arts members and the kids classes that fill our off-peak timetable.”
At a glance HITIO Gym
Number of franchised outlets: 38
Location of units: Norway, the UK and Portugal
Investment range: £350,000-£450,000
Minimum required capital: £80,000
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org hitiogym.com