MÜV Brands Aims for Expansion, Franchising in 2016

MUumlV Brands Inc which has clubs under the MUumlV Fitness and MUumlV Training labels added five locations in the Columbia South Carolina market last month Photo courtesy MUumlV Fitness
<p>M&Uuml;V Brands Inc, which has clubs under the M&Uuml;V Fitness and M&Uuml;V Training labels, added five locations in the Columbia, South Carolina, market last month. (Photo courtesy M&Uuml;V Fitness.)</p>

The word "results" can sometimes be overused in the fitness club business.

But for MÜV Brands Inc. CEO Joel Tallman, the word "results" is at the core of a mantra that he shares with employees: Results equals retention equals referrals equals revenue. 

"We are really, really focused on member results," Tallman recently told Club Industry. "That's what drives it."

The Spokane, Washington-based company is "flying" with 10 locations in Spokane; Columbia, South Carolina; and Portland, Oregon, under the MÜV Fitness and MÜV Training labels, Tallman said. The brand also has 12 affiliate clubs. Tallman plans to expand its footprint by another 15 locations in 2016, some of that through franchising, which is planned for the third quarter.

"If that (franchising) goes well, the number of locations will expand much quicker," Tallman said.

Tallman leads a group of fitness industry veterans in the MÜV Brands ownership group, which includes Jack Tawney, Chip Schwerzel, Jeff Carlson and John Burriss. Burriss joined the leadership team when he converted his five Gold's Gym locations in Columbia, South Carolina, to the MÜV Fitness brand last month after 18 years with Gold's Gym. Tallman and Burriss formed a relationship at Gold's Gym in the late 1990s and early 2000s when Tallman was Gold's Gym senior vice president of global operations and Burriss served as the Gold's Gym Franchisee Association president.

The rest of the leadership team also have long histories in the industry. Tawney has operated in the Pacific Northwest with multiple locations for 30 years, including Harbor Square Athletic Club in Edmonds, Washington. His clubs are the 12 affiliate clubs. 

Schwerzel was a former district manager for Gold's Gym who worked under Tallman. Schwerzel and Carlson sold their 10-club Vision Quest Sport and Fitness chain to LA Fitness in 2013. In November 2014, Schwerzel purchased four Oz Fitness Club locations in Spokane from Blum Holdings for $4.87 million, which was previously owned by U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein and her husband, Richard Blum. Competitors offered a higher price, but Blum Holdings sold to Schwerzel based on a referral from 24 Hour Fitness founder Mark Mastrov. The Oz Fitness Club locations rebranded as MÜV Fitness.

"We just reunited and started growing this thing together," Tallman said. "I came up with the name, look, feel and direction."

The Concept

The MÜV Fitness locations are more traditional big box-style clubs, and the MÜV Training location in Portland is a boutique-style club akin to Orangetheory Fitness, Tallman said. Dues at MÜV Fitness range between $36 and $39 per month, and dues at MÜV Training are $129 per month.

MÜV Fitness clubs onboard new members by creating customized individual success plans. Members are tracked through apps and wearable MYZONE technology.

The pillars of success for members – nutrition, exercise and movement, supplementation, coaching and accountability – guide the design of the customized member program and are foundational to how the company presents its exercise program. Nutrition, however, is a key element to MÜV Fitness' member retention strategy because it is the biggest component in weight loss, Tallman said.

MÜV Training, which opened in March 2015, offers members a strength-style concept, functional training, TRX, cardio, barre, Pilates, yoga, cycling and wearable technology. MÜV Brands is seeking more corporate-owned MÜV Training locations, and multiple locations are in negotiation, Tallman said.


The idea behind offering two types of club models under the MÜV Brands is to give a potential franchisee the opportunity to choose a concept adaptable to the local marketplace. MÜV Brands is exploring other fitness concepts as well, Tallman said.

"We're fitness people for people that want to get into the fitness business under people that come out of the operations side," Tallman said. "We have a lot of experience and are just looking for people that want to be part of a family-type of environment where they can grow their businesses and we can help coach them, and potentially learn from them also."

A sixth MÜV Fitness location in Columbia is expected to open in April, and the company is considering opening a MÜV Training model in that market with potential expansion to other cities in the southeastern United States, according to Burriss. 

Burriss called the rebranding of his Gold's Gym clubs "big" and viewed the switch to MÜV Fitness as an opportunity to invigorate staff and approximately 40,000 members.

"We've seen a new level of excitement in the club," Burriss said. "It's new, it's different for them and they find it exciting. We feel like it's an opportunity to get better. With the change, we've challenged all of the staff to really step up and really focus on getting results for our members. That's what MÜV is all about – it's about results."

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