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New Women's Concept Hopes to Float Like A Butterfly

SAN FRANCISCO — Fitness industry veterans have come together to launch Butterfly Life, a fitness franchise for women that offers an integrated approach to addressing women's fitness and health. Backed by a team with more than 100 years of collective experience in fitness and brand expansion, Butterfly Life is said to offer a platform designed to inspire women to adopt healthier choices throughout their lifestyle.

According to the company, the management team — Mark Mastrov, partner and director, who is the founder and CEO of 24 Hour Fitness; Mark Golob, founder and CEO, also serves as founder and CEO of Linda Evans Fitness Centers; and Bruce Fabel, president — bring to Butterfly Life a proven record of successful and profitable business expansions and global brand development.

“We are building a different type of fitness product that is a total brand and not just another club,” said Fabel. “We feel this franchise has the right products, systems and technology to attract the targeted 40- to 50-year-old women.”

Even though entering a congested market segment, management believes that Butterfly Life franchises offer a unique opportunity for those looking to enter the women-only market.

“Most of the clubs in this segment don't offer women a club and equipment designed for them,” said Fabel. “We offer women an environment tailored specifically for them. And for our franchisees, we offer an opportunity to get in on the ground floor of a concept where each one of them is very important to the management team.”

As for these franchises, they will be built at a minimum of 2,000 square feet and will feature a standard layout and look “much like Starbuck's, McDonald's and other successful businesses,” according to Fabel. Among the technology will be a 30-minute circuit consisting of 10 strength pieces designed specifically for women and five cardio stations.

Perhaps the biggest technological innovation at Butterfly Life is a 67-inch custom-designed media system, Life Vision, that allows clubs to “broadcast” yoga and other group exercise classes as well as seminars by nutritionists, psychologists and other professionals. There will be new classes every quarter allowing flexibility in programming for franchisees.

“This allows club owners to put the best professionals in front of their members without additional staffing costs,” said Golob. “We are putting a few million dollars behind it.” Additionally, Fabel added that tapes and CDs of the classes and speakers would be available in each club's 100 square foot retail space.

But, Ken Germano, president of the American Council on Exercise (ACE) warns that this form of providing group classes has a downside.

“In this kind of setting, without a certified instructor leading the class in person, there is no interaction, assessment and supervision of the class,” he said. “Any claim against the club is one they will be fighting alone. They will not get insurance coverage. This doesn't do anything for our industry but set it back.”

But Golob says that there will be enough supervision as owner/operators will be certified by Butterfly Life during a one-week training university and will be monitoring classes.

And so does Jennifer Urmstrom, national account manager at Sports & Fitness Insurance Corp.

“As long as the facility is staffed with someone that can respond if there are any problems, insurers would provide coverage for the club,” said Urmstrom.

In fact, Golob says that the clubs will be so successful — including the initial five club franchises in Northern California and Atlanta, GA, sold already — that he welcomes a follow-up.

“I believe Butterfly Life clubs will be managed better than most since each will be that person's business. If we did an interview in two years we'd be talking about how well Butterfly Life is doing,” he said. “While other companies will come and go in that time we will be standing tall.”

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