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These Fitness Franchises Are Still Helping Us Sweat


FT Restaurants Editor Nicholas Upton, along with his wife, Holly, punch it out with 9Round.

Like their counterparts in the restaurant segment, fitness franchises have had to close their doors following various state mandates to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus and, much like restaurants, they’re pushing their business model online. Perhaps better prepared for this shift thanks to the rise in at-home fitness classes, brands are rolling out virtual workouts and giving many people—FT’s editorial team included—a much-needed outlet as the lockdown continues.

‘Punch it out’ with 9Round

While rolling around doing pushups on my attic floor, it was awfully temping to just shut my laptop and go back to eating my pandemic snacks. But the power of a community workout proved stronger than my cache of smoked almonds, and that’s saying a lot.

My wife and I—plus about 2,000 other people—tuned in for a Facebook Live workout with 9Round founders Shannon “The Cannon” and Heather “The Hero” Hudson. The workout started with a sincere plea to members and non-members alike to help their local community by supporting the local 9Round franchisee. Holy cow, it was a good workout. Even with a handful of breaks to pet my very confused dog, I was sore for days afterward. We punched, we kicked, we did fake jump-roping (my calves tighten at the very thought). The only equipment called for was a chair for elevated push-ups. I managed to do the entire workout, gasping along with the virtual group. Did I feel a little silly getting yelled at to “punch it out” for the remaining time in a circuit? Sure. But without that I would have certainly been sinking into a couch eating snacks. The workout I got was worth a modest membership fee, and I know the company is investing more in content, all to keep revenue coming for franchisees facing incredible hardship.  —NU

Gold's Gym

Kickboxing is a little less satisfying without the punching bag, but Gold's Gym's online fitness classes still get the job done.

Staying sane with Gold’s Gym

While my local gym’s online Warrior Sculpt class had been my saving grace thus far, I decided to mix it up with a workout from Gold’s Gym, part of its “Stronger Anywhere” series that’s free to members and non-members alike through May. Moving through a series of uppercuts, knee drives, alternating front kicks and the dreaded burpees, coaches Parker and Amber called out encouragement throughout the 20-minute Kickin’ It class, which requires no equipment but nonetheless gets the heart rate up quickly. While the “speed bags” move isn’t nearly as satisfying without said speed bag, the total body workout was the perfect antidote after a day spent in a makeshift home office with a husband in the next room shout-talking on a never-ending stream of conference calls. Gold’s Gym is doing its part in the fight to maintain sanity, and for that I’m thankful. — LM


AKT's energetic instructor makes all difference when working out at home.

Cardio dance with AKT

At 4:06 p.m. Thursday, March 26, the evening edition of the Chicago Tribune hit my inbox, immediately after an all-city siren: “Mayor Lightfoot closes lakefront trail, adjoining parks, beaches, 606 trail, Riverwalk,” also known as my only remaining oasis of sanity in the middle of the second week of lockdown in the Windy City. I had only one choice: log into the AKT Throwback Thursday Happy Hour Express, fortuitously streaming live at that very minute from one of the Xponential Fitness brands, which made the classes available to everyone via Facebook this week. Thank you, thank you, Anna, our instructor, who was rockin’ a full-body cardio dance workout that needed no equipment, quite a bit more space than I actually had in my teeny-tiny office, and featuring booming music with a party beat. We’d twirl, we’d swirl, we’d back up, we’d kick, kick, kick, kick, we’d repeat, albeit my movements were cramped compared to Anna’s free-flowing abandonment in her empty, spacious studio. Next we moved into isometrics, with triceps, lats and delts. Hold it, hold it, HOOOOOOOllllld it, Anna screamed, her voice rising up and down, and I did, just 15 more seconds, then 10, then five. Anna was my savior that day, wearing the cutest camo leggings and lime green tank top which I immediately shopped for afterward online. AKT and Xponential saved the day. —BE

Anytime Fitness

With dog Oakley looking on, FT's Tom Kaiser gets an energy boost from Anytime Fitness.

Energy boost from Anytime Fitness

Let’s be real here: my husband and I are not “into” fitness. But as Minnesotans who survived months of winter and are now cooped up under lockdown, we jumped at the chance to shake our quarantine bodies, something we know we should do every now and again, like vacuuming. We logged onto the Anytime Fitness channel on YouTube and browsed the brand’s many free offerings, ultimately selecting the 10 Minute Energy Boost with Coach Louise. As our dogs looked on, perplexed and annoyed by our latest exploits, Coach Louise briefly took us through the quick session’s basics—two five-minute rotations with a variety of lunges, planks, push-ups and stretches that had us reaching outstretched hands toward the ceiling. We appreciated the friendly trainer’s non-nonsense delivery, along with the acknowledgement that she too was starting to breathe heavily by the end of the first rotation—same here, Louise, same.

Anytime offers a lot of at-home workouts on its channel (and social media pages), with a range of activities aimed at every demographic. Posting some free videos is a great way to expand the brand’s community beyond its gym subscribers. Allow me to suggest a group workout for dogs and their parents. After 10 minutes in we were feeling accomplished, more energized and less guilty about shuffling back upstairs to our respective offices—but with pulses that resembled living creatures more than sedentary droids. —TK


Feeling the burn with TruFusion are FT reporter Callie Evergreen and her husband, Luke.

Toning muscles with TruFusion

TruFusion was true to its word when it said its barre class would set my seat on fire. I tuned in for a livestream workout on TruFusion's website, where the franchise is offering a free 14-day trial to help everyone stay physically and mentally fit. With offerings ranging from yoga and Pilates to bootcamp, visitors and members alike can sign on throughout the day from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. to move their bodies at home. The Tru Barre class began with a set of upper-body movements such as push-ups and planks before we moved on to thigh, core and glute workouts. High energy music played while we moved to the beat with ballet-inspired movements, such as variations of the classic plié. While the video showed the instructor and two other people using an actual bar in a studio, my husband and I improvised and used the backs of chairs to balance ourselves while pulsing our burning muscles.

After muscle-toning "micromovements"—high reps of small range movements designed to work each muscle group until burnout—I could barely walk down the stairs after. The instructor kept us motivated by telling us to look forward and not down—both in class and in life. He told his online viewers that if you look down, "that's where you're going. You have to keep smiling." —CE

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About This Blog

The latest news, opinions and commentary on what's happening in the franchise arena that could affect your business.

Laura MichaelsLaura Michaels is editor of Franchise Times. She can be reached at 612.767.3210, or send story ideas to lmichaels@franchisetimes.com.
Beth EwenBeth Ewen is senior editor of Franchise Times. She can be reached at 612.767.3212, or send story ideas to bewen@franchisetimes.com.
Nicholas UptonNicholas Upton is restaurants editor at Franchise Times. He can be reached at 612.767.3226, or send story ideas to nupton@franchisetimes.com.
Mary Jo LarsonMary Jo Larson is the publisher of Franchise Times Magazine and the Restaurant Finance Monitor.  You can find her on Twitter at




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