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Franworth + CITYROW Partner to Bring NYC Boutique Fitness Phenomenon to Cities Nationwide

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Premiere Franchise Management Firm to Expand Emerging Fitness Brand with First Location in Ann Arbor, Mich. 

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (January 10, 2018)Franworth, the nation’s premiere franchise growth equity firm that helped propel some of today’s fastest growing fitness and lifestyle franchise brands, expects fast growth for its newest portfolio partner – CITYROW.

The Manhattan-based boutique fitness concept has grown a loyal following and built powerful brand awareness with its unique, total body, high-intensity, low-impact program that uses water-based rowing machines and strength-training exercises to deliver a total body workout. Franworth is a franchise growth equity firm that serves as an operating partner for emerging brands.

Founded in 2014 by Helaine Knapp, CITYROW aligns with Franworth’s extensive experience in expanding operations through franchise systems, entering new markets through franchise development, and building strategic partnerships to act as accelerators for brands such as TITLE Boxing Club, spavia day spa, Sweetwaters Coffee and Tea, and The Lash Lounge to successfully expand with a franchising model. Franworth helps brands like CITYROW build a strong foundation, navigate acceleration and create economic value for the franchisor and franchisees within the system.

“Before partnering with a brand, we always look at the people, the category and the unit economics,” said Franworth Founder and CEO John Rotche. “We need to check all three of those boxes, which was easily done with CITYROW. Their sophisticated branding and marketing has built tremendous brand value in a major U.S. market, rivaling that of a 100-unit brand. The Franworth team knows what’s needed to take that value from New York to across the nation.”

CITYROW’s compelling founding story starts with Knapp, a workout enthusiast who was diagnosed with a herniated disk requiring surgery at age 27. After recovering, doctors recommended a low-impact exercise regimen. With few options for such a workout in New York City, Knapp set on an 18-month journey to open CITYROW in 2014, quickly building a dedicated following that led to a second location in 2016. When she considered expansion plans, mutual friend Dhani Jones, the former pro-football player and famed entrepreneur/investor, advised her, “you have to meet John Rotche.” 

Working with Franworth since June, 2017, CITYROW will open early this year in Ann Arbor, Michigan – the first outside of the Big Apple. The Ann Arbor location is not only home to Franworth, but also holds special meaning for Knapp as a University of Michigan alumna.

“There’s a right way to franchise a brand and Franworth is the absolute best-in-class partner to work with,” Knapp said. “I set out to create a smarter and more effective way to work out. We took a tried and true fitness experience with the rowing machine, upped the ante with the way we teach it, and made rowing fun and relevant again. Our strong, powerful luxury brand in New York City is the leader in its category. Combined with the powerhouse Franworth the sky’s the limit for CITYROW.”

Leading the CITYROW franchise sales effort on behalf of Franworth is seasoned franchise development firm BrandOne. Rotche noted multi-unit operators will be attracted to a variety of key selling points of the CITYROW franchise opportunity, including:

  • Low fixed costs and simple buildout, yet a luxury experience for consumers
  • Recurring revenue and a loyal fan base
  • The backing of Franworth, an experienced franchisor with systems and infrastructure already in place

About Franworth

Franworth is a leading franchise growth equity firm with years of franchise experience accompanied by a proven track record of success. The accomplished executive team is located in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and includes Managing Director and CEO John Rotche, CFE; Managing Director David Barr; Chief Operating Officer Mike Skitzki, CFE; General Counsel and Chief of Staff Jonathan Koudelka. Franworth helps franchisors build a strong foundation, navigate their acceleration, and create economic value for both franchisors and their franchisees. The Franworth family of brands currently includes TITLE Boxing Club, spavia day spa, Sweetwaters Coffee and Tea, CityRow and The Lash Lounge. To learn more visit 

About CityRow

Founded in 2014 by Helaine Knapp, CITYROW is a boutique fitness studio established in New York City that specializes in a total body, high-intensity, low-impact workout using a water-based rowing machine and strength-training exercises. Each stroke on the row machine utilizes 84 percent of the body’s muscles – legs, core and arms. The 50-minute workouts increase aerobic capacity and efficiency and burn calories while exerting less pressure on the body’s joints than traditional cardio exercises. By combining rowing with body sculpting exercises, CITYROW members see body transformation quickly. For more information, visit

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