Posted on August 20, 2020
Over the past three months, the coronavirus pandemic has forced many franchise brands to either adjust or cease operations altogether to comply with local and state regulations. Workout Anytime, a 24-hour fitness franchise with more than 160 units across the U.S., temporarily closed its gyms while continuing to service members by offering virtual workouts. Now, with gyms reopening across the country, the brand is working hard to make sure that both new and established franchisees are positioned for success on the other side of COVID-19.
Duane Brown, an established Workout Anytime franchise owner in Tennessee, was going to be opening up a new gym in Seymour earlier this year — but then the pandemic hit.
Brown originally started out as a business owner in construction, eventually getting into the real estate industry as an agent and broker. When the real estate market crashed in 2008, he struggled for a few years before being introduced to Workout Anytime through his accountant. After visiting a few locations, Brown knew the brand offered a strong business model, winning concept and something he could manage as a franchisee. Once he and his family opened their first club in Sevierville, Tennessee, Brown dove into gym ownership full-time and began looking for expansion opportunities.
“As local residents of Sevier County —about twenty minutes from Seymour — this neighboring market had been a part of our family plan since 2014 when we first opened our Sevierville gym,” said Brown. “Our first club did very well, and we stayed busy. While we wanted to expand, we were a little concerned about whether or not we could handle operating two clubs. Eventually, we sold the Sevierville club and decided to start over and build a new location from scratch. The new construction took about six months to complete.”
Although COVID-19 pushed back the original opening date, the delay did give Brown a few extra weeks to prepare for the best start possible. Once restrictions started to lift, Brown was able to open the Seymour location on May 1. Brown already serves 1,500 members, including 1,000 who signed up during presales and 500 in new members who have signed up over the past month.Largely thanks to the support, communication and resources provided by the Franchise Support Center, Brown has been able to successfully navigate COVID-19 and is already seeing growth.
“At Workout Anytime, we take the health of our associates, members and the community as paramount to our business,” CEO Steve Strickland said. “We are following the lead of our elected officials by providing a safe and clean environment and honoring both social distancing requirements and limits to those who can enter the facility. Our cleaning and disinfecting activities not only meet the CDC requirements, but go above and beyond to meet our very strict standards for our surfaces, our equipment and general club facilities.”
Brown is continuing to work with his staff members to ensure that the brand’s enhanced protocols, which include providing clients with more hand sanitizer, are in action every day. “Sanitation has always been a top concern for us, but now, we’ve implemented more strategic efforts, such as keeping track of locker room checks, making sure equipment and fixtures are sanitized every hour and equipping members with supplies they can use before and after their workouts,” he said.
By taking all the right precautions and encouraging both employees and customers to respect rules on cleanliness and social distancing, Workout Anytime has proved itself as a safety-focused franchise that can adapt to serious situations such as COVID-19. This adaptable model has allowed Brown to successfully open a new location despite a pandemic, putting safety systems in place that will benefit the Seymour gym in the long run.
Unfortunately, Brown hasn’t been able to hold a grand opening for the Seymour location yet, but he hopes to hold an appreciation event quarterly and organize some sort of event when it is safest for everybody. Now, with more square footage than the Sevierville gym, Brown is actively looking for qualified, experienced trainers to meet the growing demand.
“Health and fitness have always been a major part of my life,” said Brown. “I’ve always wanted to help others stay fit — it is important to show people that it isn’t hard to live a healthier lifestyle. It has been so great to see people of every age starting to come in on a regular basis and make huge changes in their lives. Now more than ever, it’s important to lead a healthy lifestyle, and I’m excited to continue our growth and provide more people with a safe space to stay active.”
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