Decision: Fitness Franchise or Independent Studio? Your personality may reveal the answer.


While the franchise model may work for mainstream fitness, entrepreneurs are launching independent startup brands at a record pace in emerging fitness markets across the globe.

Your personality and mindset are often overlooked during due diligence, yet they play a significant role in the success of a fitness business. Not everyone is cut out for franchising or has the temperament to flourish using someone else’s brainchild. And not everyone is a free-spirited trailblazer with the talent and grit to succeed or fail on their own.

“Rule followers” make excellent franchisees, and they have the mindset to accept conformity and adhere to an established operating system. With no desire to “reinvent the wheel,” they value policies and procedures and trust the boss (franchisor) to make most business decisions.

“I did it my way” is the anthem of independent fitness owners, and they relish the freedom and flexibility to follow their own intuition – where passion calls the shots. They pivot quickly, have a wide circle of influence, and are a living, breathing, walking testimony of their “baby.” Stay wild. Jump fences. Be open, be curious – be an independent.

Compare these 9 factors to your personality traits before making a decision.

Fitness Franchise Owner

  1. Licensing Fee: Non-refundable, typically $25,000 to $150,000.
  2. Additional Fees: Payment on revenues earned and cooperative advertising.
  3. Documented Net Worth: Required to ensure the franchisee has resources to cover first-year operating costs.
  4. Restrictions: Must use approved vendors and comply with all operating procedures to prevent violation of agreement.
  5. Consistency: Must adhere to architecture, branding, and interior design standards. Must use the same equipment, class format, and instructor training.
  6. Marketing Assistance: Usually provided; corporate advertising is developed by franchisor.
  7. Staffing: An absentee owner can operate with competent management in place.
  8. Reputation: Although investing in a business model, you’re also trusting the reputation of a celebrity, athlete, or corporation behind the brand.
  9. Fads: Beware of fitness trends – what’s popular today may disappear tomorrow.

Independent Fitness Studio Owner

  1. Initial Cash Outlay: No fee for a license; no obligation to pay monthly/quarterly fees.
  2. Documented Personal Finances: Not required unless applying for a loan.
  3. Answerability: No monthly reports, sales quotas, or restrictions.
  4. Financing: Fitness financing is often available for independent startups.
  5. Total Control: Architecture, interiors, equipment, marketing, training, and branding are determined by the owner.
  6. Freedom: Ever-changing classes and equipment, ability to partner with other businesses and philanthropy initiatives the owner finds most beneficial.
  7. Staffing: Hands-on. The owner is part of the brand, often teaching classes or working the front desk and knows every member by name.
  8. Social: Community focused; grassroots marketing utilizing social media channels. An integral part of the neighborhood.
  9. Commitment: A level of enthusiasm, pride, and dedication only a locally owned business can deliver.