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Two More Women's Express Clubs Enter Market

SOUTH BEACH, FL — Two more players are jumping into the female express-workout crowd of fitness facilities. Cuts Fitness for Men and Lucille Roberts are entering the market — both stating they will offer something that is lacking in this market.

In December, the same people who introduced Cuts Fitness for Men launched Cuts For Women. The company, which will be based in South Beach, FL, said the clubs would target a younger, more affluent member than traditional express clubs target.

“As opposed to what exists today in the women-only market, we will be creating a high-quality environment that will motivate our members,” said John Gennaro, president and founder of Cuts for Women. He said that his franchises will not directly compete with existing women-only facilities since it represents a fitness program that doesn't exist already.

“Our market is younger, more fit and will draw from traditional clubs as well as a segment of the women ages 20-40 who have held off joining any gym because they are not satisfied with the current offering,” he said. “Of course, we will also attract a percentage of existing women-only club members as well.”

Gennaro said that his company's research showed that a large percentage of women who currently work out at existing women-only facilities and co-ed health clubs are dissatisfied with their current experience.

Cuts for Women has partnered with Laura Day, a designer on the television show “Trading Spaces,” to design its clubs' interiors. The clubs will feature hydraulic equipment combined with cardio stations including rowers, upright bikes, spinners, ellipticals and steppers. The franchise uses the Body Cuts system, a 30-minute circuit training and cardiovascular-based workout.

“We will be very focused on both the visual and audio elements of the franchise as well,” he said.

The company will locate some of the women-only facilities side-by-side with its men's facilities.

“We feel that this is a terrific opportunity that doesn't currently exist in the marketplace,” Gennaro said. “It's an attractive package that can feed one another from a marketing perspective as well.”

Gennaro said that the higher-end offering should attract franchisees with experience in the fitness industry.

“The reason you haven't seen more fitness professionals jump into franchising is that a high-quality product offering hasn't been there through present,” he said. He plans to sell 250 franchises by the end of 2005.

Also in December, Lucille Roberts launched its Lucille Roberts Fitness Express franchises “to bring a brand of quality, women-only fitness facilities to every market, both large and small, on a national scale,” according to Bob Roberts, company co-founder and CEO.

“We're taking a big gym model and scaling it down in size without losing any of the programs our fitness centers are famous for,” said Roberts. The company already has more than 50 full-sized women-only fitness centers in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. “With Lucille Roberts Fitness Express, we'll be able to bring our brand of quality, women-only fitness to every market, both large and small, on a national scale.”

A “big gym in your small town” philosophy makes the new business a different and effective franchise model from the typical 30-minute workout competitors, Roberts said. By combining the highest quality cardio and strength training equipment with a variety of low-and high-impact fitness classes, Roberts said his company's concept would fill a largely ignored niche — affordable, women-only, weight-loss and fitness centers with choices and variety.

The company has made a multi-million dollar investment toward the launch of the new concept and plans to sell at least 100 franchise locations and oversee 15 to 20 new openings in 2005. The company is in discussions with single-unit and multi-unit developers, many of which are from other segments of the franchise industry.

“Lucille Roberts Fitness Express possesses what I think are the three critical elements of a great franchise — high quality, simplicity, and a low financial entry point. And the level of support we provide our franchisees far exceeds that of any of the other concepts out there,” said Bruce J. Major, executive vice president and director of franchising.

Women comprise 53 percent of U.S. health club members. There are more than 10,000 locations and 4 million members in women-only facilities.

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