Friday, March 1, 2024

U.K.’s PureGym lands in the U.S, plans to franchise 300 locations

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Members use apps to join and jump from their memberships at will.

A low cost, no-contract fitness center operator from the U.K. is entering the United States — with a new brand name.

During the past 14 years, Pure Gym, whose members can enter its locations using a digital app, has slowly built its way to becoming the biggest gym operator in the U.K.  Now it’s ready to take on the U.S. with the brand name Pure Fitness.

“There was a gap in the market when we started. Gyms all made members pay 40 to 50 pounds a month and commit to a 12-month contract,” said James Hathaway, the international strategy and  franchising director of Pure Fitness. “We introduced a lower-cost flexible membership. People can sign up and end their memberships at any time they want by using our app.”

Its nearly two million members visit 370 PureGyms in the United Kingdom and another 200-plus in Europe and the Middle East. In 2022, the company opened three locations in the Washington D.C. metro to test the American market and liked what it found. It has charged New York-based RCS Real Estate Advisors to create a franchising organization and begin signing franchisees in New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Florida, Texas, Illinois and the Carolinas.

“Landlords are always chasing a category—food and beverage and entertainment have been the targets over the past few years. Now health and wellness is what landlords are after,” said RCS VP Moe Puri. 

Pure Fitness locations will sport a lower payroll than most other gyms. They require just two full-time positions—manager and assistant manager. Some eight to 10 fitness coaches who conduct classes fill out the employee roster, but each work just 12 hours a week. Personal trainers charge clients themselves and pay the gym a fee to work there. 

“Feedback we’ve gotten from members in Washington has been generally positive,” Hathaway said. “They like Pure Fitness’s flexibility, nicely stocked gym, and the price.

Depending on locations, monthly cost Pure Fitness membership will range between $25 and $35 a month. 

“Gym owners have long believed you have to have a sales team, that people have to be sold the memberships, but we’ve found that not to be the case,” Hathaway said. “We haven’t had a problem with it, and we’ve drawn a broad age range of members.”

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