The Exercise Coach: a Profitable Franchise Costing Only $258K

Franchising only since 2010, The Exercise Coach is undeniably one of the fastest-growing fitness franchises in the US: it already has close to 200 units today of which 157 are franchised-owned.

Besides the hype for 1-1 personal training fitness clubs, there’s a good reason for such a growth: the franchise only costs $258,000 to buy and set up whilst it one studio generates $234,000 in turnover per year on average.

What does it mean for your as a franchisee? How much profits can you realistically make with a The Exercise Coach franchised gym? Should you invest in this franchise? Let’s dive in!

Key figures

Franchise fee$49,500
Royalty fee6.0%
Marketing fee1.0%
Investment (mid-point)$258,000
Revenue$234,000 per year
Revenue per square foot[franchise_value_revenue_per_sq_ft]
Sales to investment ratio0.9x
Payback period[franchise_value_investment_payback]
Minimum net worth$500,000
Minimum liquid capital$100,000
Source: FDD 2022

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What is The Exercise Coach?

The Exercise Coach is an American franchise and operator of personal fitness boutiques utilizing Exerbotic proprietary technology.

It was founded in 2000 by co-founders Gerianne Cygan and her husband Brian Cygan in Lake Zurich, Illinois, where it is headquartered.

The franchise is based on revolutionary fitness science and fitness data platforms and offers personalized, time-efficient programs for those above the 50s to help them lose fat, build muscle and have an overall healthy outlook and physique.

The Exercise Coach began franchising in 2010 and currently has more than 199 units worldwide with 157 franchises in the US.

The Exercise Coach franchises pros and cons

The Pros:

  • Science-driven workouts: The Exercise Coach utilizes Exerbotics, its proprietary equipment and technology to offer members advanced fitness sessions. Franchisees can gain a competitive advantage, attract clients of all ages and achieve a high satisfaction and retention rate, leading to improved profitability.
  • Marketing and advertising: The franchisor embraces turnkey marketing strategies to help franchisees promote and publicize their local studios. Franchisees can utilize national media, regional advertising, personalized studio marketing, ad templates, email marketing and targeted promotional campaigns to maximize sales.
  • Passive investment: The franchise allows for semi-absentee ownership. Franchisees can operate their studios alongside other obligations.
  • Exclusive territory protection: The Exercise Coach offers its franchisees an exclusive development market. As long as the agreement is in place, the franchisor does not authorize any other franchises to operate in the designated area or operate a competing unit in the area.
  • Simple business concept: The Exercise Coach franchise uses a small footprint of approximately 800-1500 square feet and a small number of employees. 
  • Scalable franchise: The Exercise Coach presents a multi-unit franchising opportunity. Franchisees can track their crucial business systems in real-time data using an industry-leading CRM. This leaves the franchisees with the responsibility of delivering quality services and scaling the studios’ growth.
  • Franchise training: The franchisor provides its franchisees with 55–77 classroom hours of initial training to train them about the business concept, operations and managing the clubs. Additionally, it offers them studio grand opening education, sales training, the hiring and training of qualified coaches.
  • Third-party financing. The franchisor helps its franchisees get financing through third-party financing. This is for franchise fees, equipment, inventories and payroll.
  • Real estate and construction: The franchisor provides its franchisees with site selection assistance to identify the most conducive gym location in terms of high traffic and demographic patterns. Also, it helps them in design, construction and lease negotiations.

The cons:

  • Not a part-time business: The business cannot be run as a side business or on a part-time basis. Franchisees need to keep the franchisor’s working hours.
  • Not a mobile or home-based business: The Exercise Coach franchise does not present a home-based business opportunity. Franchisees must have a fixed retail facility, office space, or warehouse to operate from.
  • Limited age groups: The brand is mostly focused on adults 50 years of age and older. This is likely to lock out potential members in lower age groups.
  • Competition: GROW Personal Training and On The Go Fitness.

How much does The Exercise Coach franchise cost?

You would have to invest, on average, $258,000 to open a The Exercise Coach exercise coaching facility.

Note that this is the investment required for a personal training studio. Indeed, there are 2 kinds of formats for the training facility you can choose from:

  • Personal training studio facility: $269,635 (which is typically 1,400 – 2,000 sq. ft. in size)
  • Personal training suite facility: $246,834 (which is typically 800 – 1,200 sq. ft. in size)

The investment amount is an average. Indeed, it varies based on many factors, such as the location of your training facility, its size, etc.

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Here’s the full breakdown of costs per training facility format:

The Exercise Coach startup costs (studio facility)

Type of costAmount
Initial franchise fee$49,500
Furniture, decorations and furnishings$4,200 – $6,315
Fitness equipment package$12,350 – $99,614
Signage$2,300 – $8,000
Working capital (first 3 months)$25,000 – $40,000
Other$64,156 – $178,334
Total$157,506 – $381,763
Source: Franchise Disclosure Document 2022

The Exercise Coach startup costs (suite facility)

Type of costAmount
Initial franchise fee$49,500
Furniture, decorations and furnishings$3,450 – $6,315
Fitness equipment package$10,350 – $99,614
Signage$1,000 – $2,500
Working capital (first 3 months)$25,000 – $40,000
Other$59,056 – $147,383
Total$148,356 – $345,312
Source: Franchise Disclosure Document 2022

What is the revenue of a The Exercise Coach studio?

On average, the Exercise Coach franchise makes $234,248 in revenue per year.

This number is the weighted average gross revenue of:

  • Studios: $240,416, 59 units (or $141 in revenue per square foot); and
  • Suites: $221,700, 29 units (or $221 in revenue per square foot

Revenue per facility is also in line with prior year: $234,230 annual revenue in 2020 (60 units).

How profitable is a The Exercise Coach studio?

We estimate the average The Exercise Coach gym makes $64,000 in profits per year (27% EBITDA margin).

The Exercise Coach is a profitable franchise: indeed this 27% profit margin is in line with US franchised fitness gyms as per our own benchmarks.

Logically, The Exercise Coach spends a significant part of its revenues in staff costs due to the nature of its business (1-1 personal training classes). It spends on average 35% of its revenues in staff costs vs. 28% for the fitness industry as a whole.

Profit and lossAmount% revenueNotes
Staff$(83,209)36%as per FDD
Rent$(35,736)15%as per FDD
Royalty fee$(16,397)7%as per FDD
Marketing$(11,712)5%industry average
Other operating costs$(23,425)10%assumption
Source: Franchise Disclosure Document 2022

Should you invest in a The Exercise Coach franchise?

We estimate The Exercise Coach franchises have a payback of 7 years, slightly better than the average payback for fitness franchises (8 to 9 years).

Therefore, The Exercise Coach seems like a great franchise investment opportunity: you would be able to repay creditors (banks, investors, yourself) within 7 years on average. After that, you can just reap the profits!

To estimate this number, we simply compared the initial investment of $258,000 vs. the net profits which we estimate to be at around 15% of sales.

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