Founded in Melbourne in 2017 by fitness industry veteran Cameron Falloon, Body Fit Training (BFT) is Australia’s fastest-growing fitness franchise with 230 locations across Australia, New Zealand, and Asia Pacific, and further afield in the U.S., Canada, and the U.K. The unique science- and technology-based program of inclusive and motivating training classes, focused on coaching rather than a screen-led model, is central to the brand’s success.
For franchisees, BFT offers a low-cost entry to market with a recurring revenue model, strong EBITDA margins, and the backing of a team with decades of success in wellness and fitness franchising, ensuring BFT is a fitness brand to watch for international investors.
The brand now has ambitious plans worldwide. “BFT has done extremely well across most countries, despite the challenges we have all faced over the past three years,” says Cameron Falloon. “The two countries that have really taken off over recent years include New Zealand, sold out with 59 territories, and Singapore with 39. Equally successful is the state of Victoria in Australia – this has almost sold out too. Our next big markets for expansion are Sydney and the U.K., where we are already seeing fantastic growth and interest.
“Our focus is to grow our existing markets, expand into new markets, keep delivering industry-leading programs and continue to support our franchisees to build successful businesses and fitness communities. In the U.K., we are about to launch the first of four studios in London and are in discussion with several franchisees in the capital, and we have upwards of 80 studios opening in APAC this year. There is still so much growth to come for BFT, along with many internal goals, and the brand is really excited by the opportunities that expansion offers.
“The target is to grow to 1,000 studios globally,” Cameron discloses, adding that BFT is also pursuing opportunities to reach into Europe, Ireland, and Malaysia.
Body Fit Training members stick with the studio for an average of 10 months, four months longer than the industry standard, and have a higher-than-average rate of attendance. Cameron credits the innovative group fitness approach for this high engagement, which is based on a unique methodology combining cardio with resistance programs, allowing the brand’s 50,000+ global members to develop their skills in a similar way to how elite athletes train. The brand has incorporated scientifically-proven training techniques aimed at reducing fat and creating lean muscle into a variety of progressive 50-minute functional strength, cardio, and conditioning classes aimed at all fitness levels and overseen by accredited coaches, who motivate, educate and push members to achieve their goals. “There’s no time for boredom at BFT,” says Cameron.
Staying ahead of the game
In 2022, BFT invested upwards of £500,000 in technology. “To maintain a competitive edge and stay relevant, particularly in the fitness sector, you need to make investments continually,” says Cameron. “Our heart rate monitor system BFT3 (BFT Cubed) is bespoke to our training model to maximize the BFT experience and members’ results. It’s a world-first for group training, with the technology and gamification aligning with each of our BFT programs to ensure members are getting maximal and personalized results from each program. Heart rates are shown on multiple digital displays throughout each studio, allowing coaches to spend more time training clients and building a greater sense of community. And our members love that it’s engaging – they get rewards depending on what classes they have attended and how well they’ve done. This definitely contributes to our above-average visitation rate.”
Franchisee John Goudis, BFT Leichhardt, Australia, agrees that the franchisor’s investments are paying back into his business. “BFT consistently challenges fitness industry norms to help excel franchisees and drive better results for members,” he says. “The introduction of BFT3 created a bespoke offering, taking the member experience to another level while also increasing participation and adherence from all fitness levels. More recently, the global open day, BFT Unlocked, leveraged all clubs to drum up new business for franchisees across a single weekend.
“Perhaps the biggest single innovation has been our passport memberships, providing members with access to all studios in the network,” John adds. “Elite coaches, along with our top-notch service, are other big factors that differentiate us from our competitors.”
BFT is committed to ensuring all its trainers, franchisees and clients are excelling in their fitness journey by providing robust bespoke equipment. “We’ve partnered with some of the best brands in the world like Matrix, Life Fitness, and Hammer Strength, but we also manufacture our own equipment, such as our power bags, as they need to be more durable to withstand the demands of the BFT programs,” says Cameron.
“Along with our technology, this is giving members a fantastic experience, and helping the franchisees to build a great business. The reality is that if your equipment’s broken, you’re losing money.”
Sense of belonging
Key to BFT’s member loyalty is customer experience, with great service increasing member retention and ultimately, boosting revenue. A key USP is offering a service as close as people will get to personal training, but without the cost. BFT trainers go through a rigorous training program from head office and also have physical competencies they must pass. In addition to the initial training, they also benefit from quarterly training days with industry-leading expert speakers, new releases of programs, and orientation of the BFT system.
“We continually invest in the trainers in our network to make sure they’re progressing, upskilling and achieving their own goals,” explains Cameron. “When you combine a variety of training methods with a coaching team that facilitates a positive, friendly culture, your fitness business is on track for success.
“We create a sense of belonging in our studios. If members feel part of our community, they’ll keep coming back, and are far more likely to recommend our fitness club to their peers. We train our staff to approach and engage with our members, as we understand that the best advocates for our club are our employees.”
Part of BFT’s brand mission statement is to have ‘the best people, the best programs, the best tech and the best results’ so the overarching push to continually innovate and be pioneering is a core value of the business. “We hold regular strategy days at head office, a chance for us to brainstorm with no limits and generate new ideas for the brand,” explains Cameron, who also initiates feedback from franchisees and members via surveys to enable problem-solving and ensure a supply of relevant ideas. “As a company, we’re open to all creative ideas and involve a number of employees across the business including the programming team to ensure integrity and alignment with our core product, our marketing and communications team to ensure it lands well, and our performance team to maximize how we roll it out in studio. Of course, we sense-check everything with our franchisees, who are at the core of our business.”
Body fit training’s top-performing clubs
BFT Fairfield (Australia) – 490 members
BFT Bukit Timah (Singapore) – 411 members
BFT St Kilda (Australia) – 390 members
BFT Hamilton East (New Zealand) – 344 members
BFT South Yarra (Australia) – 340 members
Source: Global Franchise