Despite pandemic, new gyms see opportunities as health consciousness grows

Cheryl Tay
·4-min read
Body Fit Training Farrer Park. (PHOTO: Cheryl Tay)
Body Fit Training Farrer Park. (PHOTO: Cheryl Tay)

SINGAPORE — Starting a new business in the midst of a global pandemic is not the most ideal, but Holleigh Mason was so impressed by her experience at Body Fit Training that she invested in not one, not two, but four of this Australian high-intensity interval group training franchise.

“Some franchisees have investors but my husband and I are the only investors in these four gyms of ours. Each gym costs between $200,000 to $300,000 including lease, equipment, wages, renovations and more,” said the 50-year-old owner of Body Fit Training Farrer Park, Holland Village, Novena and Harbourfront.

The Farrer Park outlet officially opened last Saturday (20 March), with the other three locations to follow once they have found a suitable space.

“It’s a huge investment, so you really have to deeply believe in the brand, which is the training and your ability to give your members the best experience each and every visit,” Mason said.

She was actually retired and not looking for any new business ventures, particularly during this very uncertain time. But the loss of her mother during this pandemic and not being able to be with her due to travel restrictions led her to feel depressed and turn to fitness for solace.

A friend who knew she loved group HIIT classes took her to Body Fit Training and she had zero thoughts of business when she first went, but after two sessions, she was so impressed by “the science backed programming and how the state of the art cardio and weights equipment synchronises with the heart rate technology specific to one’s personal fitness level” that she decided to invest in “the most enjoyable workplace to turn up to every day.”

The greatest challenge for Mason would be the time taken to break even on their investment due to the current capacity restrictions.

“Our regular class size is 35 to 36 but currently we can only take 15 per session, so you can imagine how that affects our running costs and growth plans,” she shared.

“Some fitness businesses simply cannot afford to weather the storm and have had to close. Thus, we must be at the top of our game and service our members accordingly so that they stay engaged, continue to get their results and enjoy our community until we can get through this restricted time.”

PHOTO: Body Fit Training Paya Lebar
PHOTO: Body Fit Training Paya Lebar

Gym franchise opens after fourth-month delay due to pandemic

Another Body Fit Training franchise opened their doors at Paya Lebar last December, after a four-month delay.

“I was already in the midst of planning for this gym before the pandemic, and our original opening date was August last year. When COVID-19 hit, I faced many delays and couldn’t proceed with the plans I had with my team,” said Blake Ng, co-founder of Body Fit Training Paya Lebar.

“Many countries initiated a lockdown of sorts and manpower in factories that manufactured our equipment were cut short. Multiple checkpoints for shipment were also introduced and movement across borders became stricter.

“Basically, everything we needed overseas were put on hold, and even the overseas training that our trainers required were cancelled. Thankfully, those delays turned out to be a blessing for us, and everything else fell into place when Phase 3 started.”


Opportunity comes down to timing and execution

R10T, a new gym in the heart of the Central Business District (CBD) that offers spinning, yoga and functional HIIT classes, also opened in January after 14 months of planning, with its owners deciding to go ahead with the venture despite the situation. The original plan was to open in March 2020.

“There is opportunity embedded into any situation and it all comes down to timing and execution,” said the founders of R10T, who prefer to remain anonymous. “People are more health conscious now, more than ever, and maintaining good health is front of mind for everyone.”

“This wasn’t the ideal time to enter the market; it also wasn’t what we had initially planned for. We were constantly reassessing the situation and risk, and deciding if it was still viable to proceed. We also had set specific markers in order for us to begin operations.”

Choosing to open in the CBD is a tricky situation because not everyone is back in the office yet, but the founders of R10T made sure they did a lot of monitoring and market research as CBD was always the location they preferred.

“We are confident we can remain agile and we added more contingencies to cover any foreseeable scenario,” they added. “We accepted there will always be risk and this pandemic was just another kind. The rest was all about backing ourselves and pushing forward.”

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