A lot of us find ourselves muddled when it comes to choosing the right place to work out. With so many big-box gyms, fitness studios, yoga classes, group classes, etc., it gets hard to decide which one will work. Hence, we find ourselves shuffling from one place to another until we find the one that feels like home. But why is it so difficult to make this choice in the first place. To begin with it, apart from the basic criteria such as location, budget, and personal goal, it depends on the quality of services and environment offered by the facility to their customers. After that, it comes down to the results and the level of engagement, enjoyment, and satisfaction in the training sessions. For instance, one of the downsides of choosing fitness studios is the repetitive and humdrum routines that pose the risk of getting injuries and hitting the plateau despite offering personalized attention with specifically designed and structured classes. That’s exactly where Outlaw FitCamp, an indoor Bootcamp and personal training brand, differentiates itself. To shed more light on it, we sat down with the Denton county’s best personal trainer, and the owner of Outlaw FitCamp, Jesse James Leyva, who has come a long way in the industry starting from riding a BMX bike as a young athlete.
Outlaw embodies an encouraging community, with personalized attention from professional, certified trainers educated on the best fitness techniques – and how to safely perform them. Our philosophy is based on Progress, Not Perfection.
Aspioneer (A): Please tell us a bit about your brand and the motivation behind this endeavor. How do you think it helps your clients in achieving their goals?
Jesse James Leyva (J): “Outlaw FitCamp was launched as a sister company to Jesse James Fit in 2014. And it just won the 2020 Best Indoor Bootcamp in Denton County—for the fourth year in a row. Outlaw FitCamp is not a “typical” gym, where people walk in and work-out. Members book classes that are very small in size, affording trainers to really get to know all members, their goals, what level of fitness they’ve achieved, how to “push” them in the right ways, or help them safely modify exercises. Outlaw embodies an encouraging community, with personalized attention from professional, certified trainers educated on the best fitness techniques – and how to safely perform them. Our philosophy is based on Progress, Not Perfection. We want you to be better than the day before. We understand that one-on-one attention in fitness produces greater results – and you’ll find that personalized attention with us. We don’t pit our members against one another to compete for the highest scores. Our members encourage and motivate one another – keeping the workouts and atmosphere upbeat, entertaining, and fun.”
A: What is it that motivates you to keep going despite several challenges being a part of a highly competitive industry, and distinguish yourself as a credible fitness partner?
J: “We strive to provide a tight-knit fitness community based on long-term development where members exceed their personal fitness goals with the help and support of our expert, certified trainers, and encouragement from fellow Outlaw members. Every aspect of Outlaw FitCamp involves a personalized relationship with trainers. We understand that one-on-one attention in fitness produces greater results. Outlaw FitCamp trainers are certified, background checked, and go through a rigorous hiring process – and receive continuous training throughout their employment. Outlaw FitCamp provides a mastermind group for trainers providing them access to senior-level guidance and techniques to level-up their skill set. Our trainers specialize in a variety of fitness areas – athletic training, weight loss, rehabilitation beginner, youth, endurance, bodybuilding, muscle toning, and more. No matter your fitness level, age, or desired health goals, you’ll have the support and accountability assurances in place to succeed.”
Our expert personal trainers work alongside you and help modify exercises during more advanced movements as necessary.
A: It’s quite evident that your service model suits people of all demographics irrespective of their age, shape, size, or goals. But serving a wide customer base also means you need to be consistent and yet flexible enough to allow growth. Apart from personal training, what are the other programs that you offer leading you to accomplish thousands of satisfied and thriving clients?
J: “Outlaw FitCamp offers a variety of services such as FitCamp group classes, personal training for individuals, small group fitness training, and VIP coaching. It serves clients at all different fitness levels. We put the ‘fit’ in the ‘FitCamp’. Our classes are suited for all fitness levels and accommodate all fitness goals. Our expert personal trainers work alongside you and help modify exercises during more advanced movements as necessary. Our FitCamp’s popular 30-minute functional interval training (FIT) contains full-body movements maximizing multiple muscle groups through multi-directional exercises and focuses on select muscle groups each day never repeating the same workout and is always challenging. Interval training includes intense bursts of exercise followed by short recovery periods to maximizes metabolic conditioning and increases the number of calories burned in a short period. Through Ultra Fit, we want you to reach your health goals without feeling like you’ve taken on a second job. Three sessions a week is all it will take to transform the way your body moves and feels. We offer a variety of packages to fit any of your needs. It’s the best of both Personal training and FitCamp without the heavy price tag. Our Ultra-Fit plans offer one session working directly with a trainer a month or one session a week plus access to the group classes to meet your budget and help you get or stay on track. Results in just 6 weeks- you will see your body changing and feel the benefit of our program. Whatever your goals may be our dedicated team will help you get there safely. Apart from training, we also offer Nutritional Support along with any personal training package. We take a practical approach to meal planning fit for your lifestyle and one you can maintain long after you’ve reached your goals.”
“To conclude, with us, you combine your passion with purpose. A fun fitness franchise, where friends become family, and personal health and happiness make profitable partners.”
A: What are you most excited about in the coming years? As a President and CEO of Outlaw FitCamp Franchise LLC, what do you expect from your franchise partners and how do you make sure they have all the tools they need to fulfill those expectations?
J: “I want to help people change their lives. And that’s what I’m so excited about. By investing with us and by buying an Outlaw FitCamp franchise, we’re there right by your side. We’re going to be there from start to finish. In 2018 we opened Outlaw FitCamp for franchising. In this short time, we have set up six new franchise locations and ten more are on the way! Currently up and running FitCamp locations are in McKinney, Flower Mound, Hickory Creek, and Little Elm. Plano, Keller and Fort Worth opening soon. We want owners who are excited about our business model; have an outgoing personality; have some business, marketing, and/or management experience; and who are involved with their communities. Of course, an appreciation for a healthy lifestyle and a desire to achieve success is just as important for your future with us. The biggest perk of franchising with us is that we offer franchise at as low as $49,900. Also, although, Outlaw FitCamp doesn’t provide any financing directly; however, we may help the franchisees find commercial financing if they qualify as we are approved by the US Small Business Administration (SBA) for SBA guaranteed loans. We offer Veterans a 15% reduction of the Franchise Fee, in appreciation for their service to our Country. To get started we will work with our studio owners to determine the best territory for the Studio location, then we’ll help them find the best location within that territory, help them negotiate the lease, and secure an approved construction firm to build-out space. Once they’ve leased their location, construction remodeling can take 90-120 days, depending on local conditions and regulations. We allow up to one year to open an Outlaw FitCamp franchise; however, our experience has been that from signing a lease to opening has averaged six months or less. Moving forward, to help our franchisees achieve the success they strive for, we have proven effective and fun marketing campaigns, events, and promotions that the members will love – and they will refer their friends to them! In addition to this, Certified Personal Trainers are a key part of our concept and company. Unlike many of our competitors, we start by hiring only Certified Personal Trainers. But we don’t stop there— we then train them on our Outlaw FitCamp style and provide a team of experts that they can access any time.”
“To conclude, with us, you combine your passion with purpose. A fun fitness franchise, where friends become family, and personal health and happiness make profitable partners.”
Jim Belanger has been in franchising since he was 19 years old, 46 years. And he is greatly pained by the abuse of the franchisees in many of the systems that he has witnessed. He also observed that the fitness industry continues to be about fads, testosterone, and injuries when training should be for wellness, health, and safety.
So he founded Corona, California-based Sudore Wellness with the aim to change that. Since its launch in 2017, Sudore Wellness is setting a new standard for the fitness industry. Sudore Wellness is a passion for movement and being a little more fit than yesterday. They help their members to achieve their personal goals while keeping them in their health zone. Their heart rate monitored training focuses on cardio through weight training without incurring injury. Sudore Wellness attracts people across various demographic age groups. They appeal to anyone between 8 to 94 (mostly women) looking for a really challenging, focused and effective workout without running the risk of injury.
"We teach people in walkers to throw them away. We improve balance and confidence every day and we see people blown away by what they can accomplish with the right training. Let’s all make a difference in people's lives every day," Jim Belanger, Founder & President, Sudore Wellness.
Great Coaching, Great Health!
Jim Belanger: Boot Camps, Cardio Palaces are fads and not responsive to the clients. At no point does the Army send you to a second Boot Camp. This training is dangerous and the intense training is the leading creator of injury in the U.S. At Sudore, we have developed a program of a disciplined and quality of life orientation. Our proven workouts have demonstrated the importance of disciplined training and how rewarding that can be. Our resistance and weight training results in longevity and quality of life. With regular workouts, our clients see a positive change in their body, a smaller waist, a better shape, beautifully toned arms within weeks. And they can accomplish all this safely and while building a stronger form that will help them for the rest of their life. Our creative workouts take four years to complete. We make sure that the client is prepared and capable of the next level of exercise. Our base program has 130 exercises so the workouts change all time to keep it interesting.
The franchise route
Jim Belanger: We’re looking for franchise owners who understand the importance of health and wellness. Besides a franchisee must understand that the brand is first. The benefit of the complete system is before their ideas. We do not ‘think’ in our organization we plan, test and execute. Thinking something will work is dangerous for any organization. A franchisee also needs to have business sense and that paperclips cost money. Every expense has a cost assigned to it. How many customers does it take for an expense to create an ROI? Most importantly we strive for extraordinary customer experience. We sell their goal, whatever their goal is we must acknowledge, develop and direct to their goal.
We're looking for franchise owners who understand the importance of health and wellness. Besides a franchisee must understand that the brand is first. The benefit of the complete system is before their ideas.
In order to support our franchisees, we provide an initial two-week training program at Corona, CA. Weekly franchise calls for existing franchisees, another call each week of franchisees opening their first Sudore Wellness. There are quarterly field reporting inspections and daily monitoring of the exercise class to maintain quality. If the daily approved workout is changed the trainer on the floor loses their Sudore Certification and must retest in Corona, CA at their expense. The franchisee must operate with two Sudore Wellness Certified Trainers at all times or at their expense. Corporate sends a Certified Trainer at $350 per day until the franchise is compliant with the agreement. National franchise participation conference is also held on an annual basis, and regional training clinic will be available across the US and Canada.
Sudore Wellness is set up to grow our franchisees and we are not looking for single operators. Our ideal franchisee will open a Sudore with zero debt. They will open their second gym in their market at 50% debt and their third gym at 75% debt. From there they will write their own story. We only want one franchisee per market, we have identified 200 markets that will hold from 2 to 50 Sudore Wellness Centers. In our agreement, if you change the system we will open Sudore Wellness Studios in the market to maintain the brand and dilute the position of the out of compliance franchisee. Remember to protect all of us, not one of us.
Revolutionizing the franchising industry
Jim Belanger: We have developed Sudore Wellness to be different from other franchises. First, we have no personal guarantee of the franchisee or their families. This is a huge difference in the franchise arena. Attorney’s use guarantees to the disadvantage of the franchise community. If a store fails we all must work to minimize damages, not foreclose on the family home. We want quality franchisees that have the discipline to follow the Sudore Way, step by step. Second, royalties are 5% and do not start until 150 paying members. Again a huge difference, we only want the royalties when the unit is profitable. We are all in this together. We believe if one location fails we all fail. The third and most important difference is we will not make a penny beyond our franchise fee and royalties off the franchise community. Any funds, kickbacks or advantages will be a split amount of the advertising budget of the total stores in the system. The system and number of stores are the reason for any savings and it will be passed on.
Jim Belanger: 2020 is our year to roll out franchising awards. We see many competitors expanding too large and the last 200 units fail to meet the expectation. We do not see a market for 1200 quality franchise locations. We see a market of 400 to 700 great sites in the U.S. We will not open substandard locations just to sell franchises.
Winners don’t do different things, they do things differently. These words are true to the core and that is what Camberley, Surrey-based The Massage Company has been doing since its establishment in 2016. With a deep study of the science of body massage, The Massage Company is redesigning the massage industry to make it easier for people to benefit from massage.
It all started when CEO & Founder Elliot Walker, met his business partner Managing Director & Founder Charlie Thompson over lunch to discuss their future plans. Having worked in the Health and Wellness Industry from the start of his career, Walker was well aware of the synergistic affects body and mind can have on each other. Call it God’s plan or call it destiny, both the founders wanted to launch a membership-based massage business in the UK and then franchise it nationwide. From the lunch table to a thriving business in the UK, the journey has been truly amazing. The Massage Company is running successfully across the UK with one owned and three franchise centers. With more company-owned and franchise centers in the pipeline, they look forward to going international through the launch of their first location in India.
The American College of Massage Therapists suggests that body massage offers over 25 health benefits. It has been found to be very effective in the treatment and management of chronic back, neck, and shoulder pain.
Bringing high-quality massage to the mainstream
The history of body massage therapy dates back to 3000 BC in India where it was considered as a sacred process that induced natural healing. Being the land of origin of Ayurveda, Indians understand the importance of a deep body massage. Due to its natural qualities of healing injuries, relieving pain, preventing and curing illnesses, body massage is a tradition that has been passed down from generation to generation. It is also known to cure ailments like lower back pain which is a global physical issue. The American College of Massage Therapists suggests that body massage offers over 25 health benefits. While it has been found to be very effective in the treatment and management of chronic back, neck, and shoulder pain, it has also proven to be a life-changing treatment for patients suffering from depression, PTSD, stress and anxiety. However, despite the health benefits it offers, the practice of massage has only recently gained scalable commercial popularity. With people becoming more and more aware of its long term health benefits, there are many players who are getting into this business. However, the massage they offer is often frequently expensive yet of mediocre quality. The Massage Company, on the other hand, is one brand that understands the soul of massage therapy. Having carefully studied the dynamics and the impact of massage, they want to make massage a routine part of people’s lives rather than simply an irregular and often expensive ‘treat’.
“We want people to see massage as good value for money, so it can become a vital and routine part of a better and balanced quality of life,” says Walker.
"We want people to see massage as good value for money, so it can become a vital and routine part of a better and balanced quality of life," says Walker.
Hence The Massage Company re-thought the way people should consume massage. Operating as a membership-based massage business, The Massage Company is committed to providing high-quality massage to the end-user. They offer four different types of massage and upgrades at a very reasonable and affordable price, which ensures complete rejuvenation of the body and soul. They’ve developed a Certified Training Programme for their staff so that their customers receive a consistent experience every time they walk into a TMC center. “For a member or first-time visitor our professional massage therapists ensure that the treatment delivered meets the customers’ needs,” shares Walker. To further support their purpose, the ambiance in the massage centers is purposefully kept calm and soothing. The treatment, customer service, infrastructure, facilities and convenient locations are all streamlined and focussed on providing the best customer experience. “We are bringing together really well-trained staff who can offer a consistent quality of massage, in a purpose-built center so customers can have a great massage in a great facility at accessible opening times all at an attainable price,” highlights Walker.
The Massage Company has a unique business model and is yet to see a direct competitor. “There are no specialist providers of massage in the UK and I believe with the team we have put together we can deliver a TMC Centre in every town and city in the UK and be a strong international player,” says Walker. Their target is a huge unexplored market between 5-star hotels, spas, and independent beauty salons. The market and demand are growing and The Massage Company has the procedures and policies in place so that customers receive the same high-quality experience every time.
"There are no specialist providers of massage in the UK and I believe with the team we have put together we can deliver a TMC Centre in every town and city in the UK and be a strong international player," says Walker.
Promoting growth and success
To become a franchisee of The Massage Company, one needs to be an out of the box thinker. As this is a non-food business the franchisee needs to break the typical stereotype and should have the boldness to explore new business avenues. They need to be self-disciplined and should display strong leadership and decision making skills. Once someone becomes a franchise partner, they are trained by experts on how to deal with the staff members and how to deal with every business challenge. To The Massage Company, franchise success matters a lot as a business is not just about investing money and reaping the profits, but is rather about helping each other succeed. It is a mutual relationship based on trust and goodwill. “Our common guiding principle is our ability to take our individual entrepreneurial spirit, our quest for success for our families and ourselves, and focus this on our existing proven business system,” emphasizes Walker.
The success of The Massage Company’s values and business model has been validated by the feedback of their franchise partners. Taran Bassi, their first franchise owner is one of those people. He shares the experience of owning a TMC franchise: “I have worked very closely with Elliot over the last 2 years, as the first The Massage Company franchisee – I cannot speak highly enough of the commitment and knowledge he has shared with me to make my business a success. There has been support throughout the process from the moment we first met and even now that my business is open and trading – Elliot is always available when I have needed him to discuss every aspect of the business and always providing excellent insight. I look forward to many successful years ahead.”
Having played PickUp basketball his entire life, Jordan Meinster the President and founder of PickUp USA Fitness always wanted to come up with something to improve the basketball experience for all the basketball fans across the nation. After being in the financial services domain for close to a decade, the idea of PickUp USA Fitness was conceived. It is successfully operating across multiple locations in the US and some are owned by renowned NBA athletes including the NBA veteran Rudy Gay. Since its launch in the year 2012, it has been the only fitness club of its type. Having grown in leaps and bounces, it began franchising in 2016. Their motto is “A Better Way to Play”, says Aaron Magno, the National Marketing Director for PickUp USA Fitness. Presently operating out of 7 locations Chandler, AZ, Coppell, TX, Houston, TX, Irwindale, CA, Madison Heights, MI, Tampa, FL, and Towson MD, PickUp USA Fitness stands taller than the rest due to the amenities they offer. The best way to speak of PickUp USA Fitness is to describe it as an exceptional basketball focused fitness club. Although initially, its vision was just pickup basketball with referees. But with the overwhelming success in their first location, they noticed that people were seeking more and more basketball-related services. Using that, PickUp USA Fitness added group and private basketball training, full weight and cardio rooms, retail merchandise, lounges, and much more. PickUp USA Fitness is truly a full-service fitness club now, however, their main attraction is still the pickup basketball with referees.
Millions of people play PickUp basketball across the US. However, the experience is not great for them. Hence, PickUp USA Fitness was meticulously designed by taking every input from the referees into regard. It is for true basketball lovers who fascinates a better and stress-free basketball experience.
Who can join PickUp USA Fitness?
Millions of people play PickUp basketball across the US. However, the experience is not great for them. Hence, PickUp USA Fitness was meticulously designed by taking every input from the referees into regard. It is for true basketball lovers who fascinates a better and stress-free basketball experience. The games are timed, more organized, more efficient, and hence more fun. Paolo Ontalan, the Vice President of Operations for PickUp USA Fitness says, “Even non-professional basketball players get a professional basketball experience like the pros.”
Essentially, they take normal pickup basketball and bring an augmenting improvement in it with the aid of referees and timed games. Being a basketball focused fitness club is what sets PickUp USA Fitness apart from other clubs. The boot camps it offers are fun yet challenging, and the private pieces of training sessions are result-oriented, scalable, and groom the athletes to gain mastery and help them achieve their goals. The hour-long session is conducted 7 days a week in which, a personalized one on one basketball training is given by the experts. Both experienced and non-experienced basketball players get the same level of attention and are groomed to meet international standards. Another key differentiator is that their games are well organized and official. The athletes get exposure to a professional environment as they get to play in daily competitive PickUp games and that too without losing the fun aspects of pickup basketball.
“Even non-professional basketball players get a professional basketball experience like the pros.”
What gives the PickUp USA Fitness franchise an edge?
Owning a business is very challenging and choosing a franchise is first finding out what you are passionate about. PickUp USA Fitness needs people who are passionate and have been considering getting into the fitness business. They believe that the faith in one’s work and their product, not only gives them the endless energy to grow their business but also gives them a sense of satisfaction when selling their product and services to the customers. “The feeling is unmatchable”, says Gary Mazakian, Vice President of Franchise Development.“Successful PickUp USA franchisees are 100% bought into the concept, offerings, and operating methods of our brand. Franchisees should possess the ability to build a team and properly coach and develop their team to implement our services and meet customer satisfaction goals.” PickUp USA Fitness has a clearly defined playbook for its franchisees to follow. The franchisees who put in the work, execute the plan, and stay focused on growing their club have a higher probability of success within their system. However, in order to set up a profitable business, there are people who often leave their jobs to maintain focus. But in this case, it is not at all mandatory as some of the PickUp USA Fitness franchisees are working professionals who started their businesses while keeping their primary sources of income. It does not matter whether someone has or does not have experience in basketball or the fitness industry. If they have a burning desire and are willing to put in the work, success will come searching for them.
“Successful PickUp USA franchisees are 100% bought into the concept, offerings, and operating methods of our brand. Franchisees should possess the ability to build a team and properly coach and develop their team to implement our services and meet customer satisfaction goals.”
What about training and support?
PickUp USA Fitness franchisees receive consistent, continuous, on-site, telephone, and email support throughout their entire journey. They will get access to access to their “Brand Standards Manual” that will guide various aspects of the operations. They will receive coaching for marketing, finance, and operational support from a team of experienced leaders. They own and operate their clubs themselves. Having gone through it all, PickUp USA Fitness is here to help and walk the extra mile with their franchise holders on their way to success.
What do their franchisees have to say?
Matt Keyser, owner of PickUp USA Fitness, Madison Heights says, “I was exploring other franchises related to the sports industry for years. But nothing sparked my interest. However, that was until he discovered PickUp USA Fitness. Impressed by what he saw as a great idea, he reached out to the president and founder Jordan Meinster.” He further adds, “After my first conversation with Jordan, I knew 100% this was the franchise for me. It was something that no other company is doing at all. Fitness is such a fast-growing industry right now, so organized PickUp basketball with referees was just a perfect fit because basketball is a passion of mine and my family too.”
PickUp USA Fitness is less than four years old as a franchisor and is successfully operating in 6 states with additional sites pending in 3 other states. It envisions itself to be a nationwide brand that will be operating in all 50 states and possibly beyond. Their focus is on delivering healthy returns at each franchise location and keep refining the business model to ensure PickUp USA Fitness delivers world-class amenities to the customers and strong economic returns for the franchise owners.
Out of all the sports played across the world, soccer is one game that has been ruling the hearts of millions. In terms of the participation rate, out of all the games, soccer is the most popular sport in Canada. According to a report submitted by Canadian Youth Sports, 767,000 children from ages 3-17 play organized soccer.
Little Kickers realizes that the way kids are treated and guided, either makes them or breaks them. With a deeper understanding of the nature of a child’s mind, Little Kickers is indeed on a mission to provide as many kids as possible with a positive introduction to sports in a friendly, pressure-free environment.
"Little Kickers’ mission is to provide as many kids as possible with a positive introduction to the sport,” Christine Kelly, Founder & Chairperson, Little Kickers.
Founded in London, England by Christine Kelly in the year 2002, Little Kickers has a diverse network of over 330 franchises across 33 countries with its franchisor head offices located in the U.K, India, and Canada. Since its establishment, apart from igniting enthusiasm for the sport, Little Kickers has been promoting a healthy attitude to life.
It all started when Christine was working for JP Morgan as an investment banker and was struggling to strike a balance between her work and family. Frustration started peeking in due to being unable to dedicate time to her son Lukas who was then just two years old. She finally took some time off and soon discovered that her son had a passion for soccer. To hone his passion for it along with his friends, she set up soccer classes and it clicked. Today Little Kickers is well known as a home of pre-school soccer.
The programs offered at Little Kickers have been developed by qualified coaches and specialist teachers of the British Football Association (FA) with an intention of successfully interweaving the basic soccer skills with valuable life skills such as color and number recognition, gross motor skills, sharing and taking turns. “Typically, a child attends one 45 minute class per week. There is a maximum of 18 children in each class and 2 coaches,” says Christine. “We also run classes in schools and nursery schools and run holiday courses and birthday parties.” Having categorized into four age groups: Little Kicks (18 months to 2.5 years), Junior Kickers (2.5 to 3.5), Mighty Kickers (3.5 to 5th birthday), and Mega Kickers (5-7th birthday), each age group works towards separate developmental goals. As Little Kickers understand the science and importance of motivation, kids are awarded badges to help encourage them.
Christine started Little Kickers as she was able to see many loopholes in the way the business was conducted. She wanted her business to be ethical, meaningful, and wanted it to have a huge positive impact on kids.
With interactive sessions, the programs are designed for kids of age group ranging from 18 months to 7 years with the aim to hone their age-appropriate skills. Parents too are made a part of the programs so that they are aware of their child’s development. Being a training institute itself, Little Kickers coaches have to undergo rigorous training themselves. They deploy a specialized technique called “Learning by stealth” in which kids are made to play imagination games where, without them consciously realizing, extensive developmental skills are embedded deep in their minds.
Christine started Little Kickers as she was able to see many loopholes in the way the business was conducted. She wanted her business to be ethical, meaningful, and wanted it to have a huge positive impact on kids. ‘‘It has been 18 years, and Little Kickers still continues to bring great joy and learning,” smiles Christine.
With very few companies operating at a global level, Little Kickers is clearly dominating the global pre-school soccer market. It is expanding globally by selling units into a few selected target markets like Germany, Spain, Mexico, and a bigger market like Japan where there is significant business potential. Along with growing globally, they are launching an initiative towards the end of 2020 to make Little Kickers the most Eco-friendly kids sports organization in the world. “In addition to switching our current production of over 100,000 polyester uniforms each year to yarn made from recycled ocean plastic, we are also developing a range of eco-friendly kids sportswear,” shares Christine. “The children who attend our classes will then be given the option of giving back their uniforms once they have finished with them, so they can be delivered to orphanages in South Africa, together with other kit and equipment, by Little Kickers coaches. Local staff members at the orphanages will be trained on how to deliver the Little Kickers program and provided with all the kits and equipment they require.”
Digital transformation is vital for any business. It has become mandatory for business leaders to reconsider the old operating models and replace them with new ones. Becoming more experimental, and more agile in the ability to respond to customers and competitors is the key to success.
Digital transformation is vital for any business. It has become mandatory for business leaders to reconsider the old operating models and replace them with new ones. Becoming more experimental, and more agile in the ability to respond to customers and competitors is the key to success. Considering the importance of staying updated technologically, Little Kickers migrated to the Salesforce platform in 2019. With 330 franchises spread across 33 nations, moving on to a new platform is a mammoth task admits Christine. Since Salesforce does not offer monthly recurring payments, Little Kickers also developed an add-on technology in collaboration with an IT company. This enables them and their 330 franchises in staying up to date technologically. “Little Kickers will continue to support the growth of our existing network of franchisees by focusing on innovation and driving unit franchisee revenue,” affirms Christine.
Being a Little Kickers franchisee is a different experience altogether. To be a franchisee, one needs to have the necessary business skills and the right attitude to run a business. Once the person is found to be eligible, they are good to go. The process is transparent and streamlined. As a mandate, franchise partners need to spend a minimum of 25 hours per week actually running their businesses. Once a franchise is appointed, they receive world-class IT support infrastructure to help them manage customer sign-up and related administrative processes. Franchise partners gain access to regularly updated online coaching resources, online marketing, and advertising materials, etc. They also enjoy discounted rates on Little Kickers branded kit and equipment, accountants, insurers etc. Along with access to third-party employment and health and safety advice 24/7. A dedicated customer support team member is also assigned for each franchisee with regular communications plus they are encouraged to participate via monthly franchisee forums to share ideas and collaborate. “With a proven system, the franchise who is dedicated enough and devotes 25 hours a week to their business will surely be successful,” says Christine. In a survey conducted at their annual conference in Oct 2019, 98% of Little Kickers franchisees said they would make the decision to purchase their Little Kickers franchise again. Having won the “Global Franchise awards 2020″ as Best Children’s and Education franchise, Little Kickers looks forward to continuing to dominate the pre-school soccer market.
We gym bunnies often grow weary of our standard exercise routine, but we still hang in because ‘Fitness is paramount’. In some ways, even that old school routine has its benefits, however, what we need is the same level of dopamine rushing through our veins as it did for the first time when we pulled ourselves up on that bar and our gym buddies cheered for us. Without this same rush and degree of satisfaction, we reach a point of saturation both in terms of physical and mental wellbeing, and hence, there’s no further growth.
Hans Hartleben, a fellow fitness enthusiast and the Founder of FIRE Fitness Camp, had this realization while he was working as a club manager at Anytime Fitness. He saw that there were two kinds of people in the gym: one who dragged themselves there every day and the second who couldn’t wait to finish their warm-up and just get to it. This incredible difference was due to the lack of motivation and sense of belonging that came from the level of support peers or personal trainers extended to the trainees. Having this understanding, Hans always wanted to offer more to his clients. Thus, following his intent, he developed a “CMRT” system that tremendously helped his clients both physically and emotionally. In order to take it to the next level, he kept on working on his training program and process. He began looking at other locations and assembled the required equipment. Soon, Hans started his HammerFit training program at an abandoned restaurant facility, having just a few basic tools. Within the first month, his program became an absolute hit and there was no space left to accommodate any more clients. This achievement further consolidated Hans’s beliefs and led him on the path to creating a new hybrid training system called F.I.R.E. Here, the clients received 100% more results for 80% less investment than the conventional personal-training regimes. In consequence, FIRE Fitness Camp quickly grew up to become the largest and fastest-growing ‘boot camp’ style franchise in Wisconsin with twenty-three other franchise locations since it began franchising in 2019.
"We are making the average person become their own biggest fan again. No one ever complains about being stronger both physically or mentally. People's bodies change and as they change, they move faster. They even walk with more purpose and hop in their step.”
The anatomy of Success
So how did FIRE Fitness Camp become America’s hottest boot camp system? F.I.R.E. being an acronym for Functional, Intensive, Resistance, and Exercise, have their own exercise science which enables an average person to train like an athlete. Their fitness program contains functional movements that a person does on a daily basis. They practice intense work to rest ratio during the 30-minute training sessions that further spikes the metabolism. They start by CREATING subclinical muscle injuries vs. breaking apart the subclinical muscle injuries or micro-tears followed by recovery and rehabilitation with the help of enzymes that fix the tissue. Hans explains, “Nobody works for free and in this case, the enzymes don’t get paid in dollars and cents, but in calories. Our clients get more results because of this residual caloric expenditure that may last up to 72 hours.” So, FIRE Fitness Camp’s training regime not just builds up strength and aesthetics but also helps its clients reinforce the ease of everyday life through improved proprioception, balance, flexibility, and muscular coordination. Some of the basic exercises in their program are flipping tires, climbing, pressing and various agility exercises. Hans chuckles, “We have in a sense, made the “push-up” cool again.” Hence, no expensive compound machinery is required. Now, it definitely brings down the investment capital, but it raises the bar in other ways. Hans shares, “We require our franchisees to equip their gym floors with an elaborate selection of free weights. The difference is, by offering more weightlifting, you need to have a vast knowledge of body mechanics. I personally write each workout here at FIRE and I think that is one of the giant factors that makes our program so popular. They LOVE the workouts!”
But it’s really the Marvelous Motivation system that distinguishes FIRE Fitness Camp from other gyms. At FIRE Fitness Camp, they treat their clients like celebrities and fulfill them with a sense of achievement. They reward their clients and their achievements like no other program in the country while still maintaining a strict decorum during the training session. This not only ensures accountability on their client’s end but also keeps them coming for more. “We provide ‘Marvelous Motivation’ as it pertains to fitness. FIRE takes pride in assisting our clients with the emotional strength in and outside our facilities,” shares Hans. “FIRE has more documented client transformations cases than any other boot camp style training in the country.”
Of course, FIRE Fitness Camp isn’t the only fitness brand offering boot camp-style workouts. Competitors like FitBody Boot Camp offers a traditional boot camp style program which predominantly uses bodyweight exercises. And CrossFit focuses more on Olympic weightlifting. “For this reason, I find their clientele to be a lot younger and those who want to compete,” says Hans. “At FIRE, your only competition is the person looking back at you in the mirror.”
Elaborate weight sets need to be combined with a vast knowledge of body mechanics. I personally write each workout here at FIRE and I think that is one of the giant factors that makes our program so popular. People LOVE our workouts!”
By doing so FIRE Fitness Camp has its niche well defined: spacious studios housing simple weights (like ropes, weights, bands, sleds, tires, your own body weight, etc) as a training aid; catering to the average moms and dads who want to reach their target weight and build up strength. “We are making the average person become their own biggest fan again. It is very interesting and powerful to watch the transformation of an average mom of three become what some of our clients refer to as ‘Beast-Moms’! No one seems to ever complain about being stronger both physically or mentally. People’s bodies change and as they change, they move faster. They even walk with more purpose and hop in their step,” glees Hans. “I will never take my foot off the gas pedal and will continue to focus all of my work and energy on different ways to deliver our clients the most phenomenal workout experience on the planet.” At FIRE Fitness Camp, they also look out for technical advancement. The cutting-edge digital products like MyZone heart rate monitor system, check-in kiosk, customized app and more speaks tremendously for their regard to innovation and science. Their social media is huge and it has enabled them to develop long-lasting relationships with people and potential partners. “What I value most about our club culture is the family aspect,” says Hans. “We have created a system that links and bonds over 3,000 training clients together. The FIRE fam, The FIRE Nation is strong and everyone involved is passionate about helping each other out behind the scenes and off the gym floor.”
It’s evident FIRE Fitness Camp offers so much to its clients and that more communities would benefit from having a local studio. The demand to franchise was immediate. Hans candidly shares an instance, “When Payal and I decided to begin our brand standards manual creating an official process for others to offer the same kind of services, an old friend of mine Chris Polanco asked to check out exactly what we were doing. At the time, Chris was a multi-club owner with Anytime Fitness and highly successful with that. He saw and felt the difference in energy immediately and I recall him saying, “I want this, I want to offer this to my members!” We then created a license agreement that allowed Chris to begin offering our services to his Anytime Fitness members in his clubs. This was called an “Express” model. It didn’t take him long to see that the FIRE Fitness Camp model not only worked but was more profitable. He sold his existing clubs and after his non-compete agreement was fulfilled with Anytime, he jumped all-in and opened his own stand-alone locations which we now call ‘premiers’.”
Chris Polanco, co-owner and Vice-President of FIRE Fitness Camp joined the team in the year 2018 and things have grown quickly from then. He is dedicated to supporting the franchisees’ success and has been most instrumental to the company’s growth. He shares that the process of signing up is very simple and straight forward. Just fill-out an application form including a few short essay questions to explain why FIRE and why YOU. After that, a thorough background check is done by their team to decide if the person is the right fit. FIRE Fitness Camp also offers robust and ongoing support to its joining partners. They have a standard operative manual that helps their partners deliver the exact service anywhere else around the globe and their top-notch technical support goes way beyond emails and webinars. They take the certifications and training of their owners, coaches and managerial team very seriously and regularly put up content to help them be better at their jobs. At the time, they have 500 how-to-do videos which are produced in-house to help their new team members.
This was all before the global coronavirus pandemic that forced all gyms to shut down across the world. “None of us are ever as prepared as we think we are. In business, or in life in general,” says Hans. “I think I speak for many by saying, when the first cases of COVID-19 were covered in China, we thought, “Well, that won’t really happen here.” But it did.” As COVID-19 continues to batter businesses Hans was faced with a challenging question: Now what? Hans shares incidences of many of their members reaching out to them voicing their concern over closing doors. They shared intimate details of emotional distress, anxiety, and depression they suffered due to the quarantine period. “We listened,” notes Hans.
Having to think for one gym would have been easy. But that wasn’t the case, FIRE Fitness Camp has over twenty franchisees to care for. “There are about one-hundred and fifty employees, contractors, coaches, and owners who have families to feed and rent to pay under our program. They matter to me too!” exclaims Hans. All factors like ‘what are their conditions and health climate’ or ‘what are the numbers like in their geographical region’ had to be considered before opening up. “The most difficult challenge for us as a business has been navigating the ever-changing mandates made by the government. We understand they didn’t get a how-to video or a blueprint on handling COVID either,” says Hans. “This pandemic is serious. So are our program and the people that have been urging us to stay open for their health and wellness. Our attitude has been, exercise is essential to the well-being of humanity. However, we still wanted to work with state and local officials without being negligent.” FIRE Fitness Camp, therefore, took profound precautions when opening that included: mandatory daily self-screening, implementing sanitation stations at all of their exercise sections, encouraging clients to sanitize the equipment surfaces BEFORE entering a section not after (as no one cleans well when leaving stresses Hans), increasing their volume on disinfecting not just the gym area but the entrances, restrooms, and offices. They went on to close down the lobby areas to limit gatherings. The coaches were asked to instruct from a safe social distance “coaching box” while members stood in clearly marked designated areas. “We even altered our normal routine in a way that cuts down on the number of touches,” shares Hans. “We are proud of the job we have done to keep our clients healthy and that will always be #1 for us.” Another result of taking all these precautions is that FIRE Fitness Camp started getting a huge influx of business. “We have many camps that have focussed more and smaller group and personal training. Some of our franchisees have even broken their own lifetime sales records!” cheers Hans. “It’s working.”
“This pandemic is serious. So are our program and the people that have been urging us to stay open for their health and wellness. Our attitude has been, exercise is essential to the well-being of humanity. However, we still wanted to work with state and local officials without being negligent....We even altered our normal routine in a way that cuts down on the number of touches,” shares Hans. “We are proud of the job we have done to keep our members healthy and that will always be #1 for us.”
Hans envisions FIRE Fitness Camp to continue to dominate Wisconsin and become a household name across the globe. “I am seeing too many businesses die out due to sitting on their hands and waiting for the disruption caused by coronavirus to be over. Not us. We are going full-throttle! We are advertising more than ever. If you aren’t moving forward, you’re going backward and there is literally no room for that here,” says Hans. “We are growing and still keeping people safe. We will never give up because there is just too much good to give. So, we will keep the pedal to the metal, our heads held high, and our eyes focussed firmly on the road in front of us. All while wearing our safety-belts:)”
Established in 2010 by Steve Collette and Pam Collette, Stratford, Prince Edward Island-based 3rd Degree Training is a growing fitness and nutrition company. “The business started as more of a personal journey than professional,” says co-founder Pam Collette. 3rd Degree Training had a humble beginning in fields with yoga mats and speakers. However, today after a decade they have grown their headquarters to 5500 square feet with locations in Canada and continues to accelerate. Its group-based classes focus on customer service, expertise, and customized fitness regimes that are suitable for members with different fitness levels and needs. However, like many of us when a new fitness routine begins, the fire in the belly disappears and procrastination takes you for a ride. The main ingredient called motivation goes missing, and the process becomes boring and tedious. Steve Collette CEO and Co-founder of 3rd Degree Training knows this very well and strives to make the same boring exercise regime lively and more fun. Starting with just 10 people in the field, they have always worked to stand out from the rest. “We like to describe ourselves as the anti-gym,” says Steve. “3rd Degree Training is a place where anyone irrespective of the age or fitness level can come and achieve their health goals.” At 3rd Degree Training, the atmosphere is kept cheerful and each customer is given individual attention to make them feel comfortable from the moment they walk in and have the confidence that their health goals are achievable.
“We like to describe ourselves as the anti-gym....3rd Degree Training is a place where anyone irrespective of the age or fitness level can come and achieve their health goals.”
Precisely, fitness motivation is the fuel and 3rd Degree Training knows how to pump it well. They offer a wide range of products out of which the most successful is an 8-week group fitness camp. During this group training, the members are guided to achieve their health goals quicker while motivating them to push themselves harder. Furthermore, Steve believes that the human body is made to move and that exercise can become complicated with the equipment. Therefore, at 3rd Degree Training, training exercise is made simple with their unique programs that focus on various aspects like metabolic rate, strength, mobility, and endurance. Keeping a track of these parameters helps them gauge the progress of their customers and plan the exercise regime accordingly. Another program they offer is ‘Personal Training’ where their trainers work with the members to develop a training regime customized to meet their health goals. They also offer drop-in classes which are open for everyone to help people improve the current results they have achieved, and then decide if they want to gain membership. Taking it from Steve, 3rd Degree Training does not believe in contracts but rather in giving people an option and the flexibility to choose what best suits them.
Smashing the competition
In the last two decades, the fitness industry has shown tremendous growth with a greater number of people becoming aware and wanting to take control of their health. With local gyms at every corner and spill-over of social media influencers and online training programs, the fitness industry has become very competitive. Hence, 3rd Degree Training chooses to be different and plans to grow with its core values as the soul of their business. “We’ve learned that not focusing on what the competition is doing allows us to focus on the things we do well-listen to our clients and keep pushing forward and growing,” says Steve. Since the target market is vast, the training programs at 3rd Degree Training are designed and customized for members of the age group ranging from 14 to 65 plus years. The addition of Baby and Me program, Kids’ program, and Adaptive Athletics to the 8-week group fitness program has been done to target these specific markets. Moreover, they have gone a step ahead and made things easier for their members by offering sessions starting from 6:00 in the morning to 8:00 in the night seven days a week. This wide time window gives the members the ability to adjust their exercise schedule. They take pride in saying that their values and their clients are the reasons behind their growth and success.
Even in the current COVID-19 pandemic that is holding the entire world as a hostage, 3rd Degree Training has found an innovative way to cater to its customers. They have leaned on technology to continue delivering the service through virtual platforms and ensure that the community stays together while their members stay motivated and healthy even in the comforts of their homes. To create an impact like actual classes and make the sessions lively, interactive, and effective, they use technology and social media to its fullest potential. Be it Facetime, Zoom, Skype, or any other video platform unquestionably, it has turned out to be a highly successful move for them as well as their customers. Not just online training sessions but live sessions on nutritional consultation are also done to keep the clients pushing towards their goals in real-time.
Sharing the passion
Just like, staying fit and maintaining a healthy lifestyle takes passion, commitment, and energy- franchising is no different. To be a franchise, one has to have the grit and passion to help others and should be willing to put their heart and soul into the business for success. When Pam and Steve decided to start their own company, it took off very well as it was appealing to everyone. They knew that their fitness club was unique and wanted it to grow across the nation. Therefore, in the past 10 years, they invested countless hours in developing this business from zero to what it is today. When they were ready to expand, they wanted an option that would give aspiring entrepreneurs a chance to prove their business skills with a higher probability of success. According to them, the beauty of investing in a franchise is that someone has made the mistakes for you and all you need to do is follow the given roadmap. Hence, they started franchising with a simple objective of supporting and guiding their franchise partners to success. As a franchise partner with 3rd Degree Training, owners get an opportunity to gain control of their success while working with a proven fitness system. They have laid the groundwork of a successful business model that provides anyone and everyone the opportunity to create the life they want. Every franchise partner is provided all the necessary tools and one-on-one support they need to be successful while maintaining effective communication. They are groomed to understand and realize what 3rd Degree Training truly stands for. Each year they are given the privilege to spend a few days at the 3rd Degree Training headquarters to self-experience the lively energy in their classes to allow them to experience the magic themselves and deliver the same magic to their clients.
Adding further, Steve says, “Franchise partners would say we are very open with communication, provide constructive feedback, their voice is always heard, and their success is our success. When you invest in a 3rd Degree Training franchise you are more than a franchise partner– you are part of a passionate community dedicated to supporting you with the muscle you need to succeed.” Pam and Steve strongly believe that 3rd Degree Training is not just a perfect business opportunity but a golden chance for health and fitness lovers, and entrepreneurs to do something dynamic, meaningful, and realize their dreams.
The mind is possibly the most studied and the most spoken about part of the human body. Every great leader speaks about bringing the best out of it. Unfortunately, the body, which is almost just as important, is often ignored in lieu of the mind. While we know that we only use 10% of our brain power for logical thinking, most people do not know that we only use 30% of body potential. Therefore, if we want to be happy, we need to have a peaceful equilibrium between the body and mind.
Established in 2017 by Founders Christopher & Kenzie Pena, BODY20 is a unique fitness brand which wants to bridge the gap between the body and mind. By combining personalized one-on-one training with a specially designed body gear that sends electrical impulses deep into the tissue of the body’s muscles, BODY20 takes an average workout to 100%. Within just 3 years of its establishment, it has doubled its network year over year.
In this era of lockdown and limited functionality due to the pandemic, experiencing muscular weakness, fatigue and lethargy has become the new normal. Stuck at home for months now, our bodies and minds have gone out of equilibrium and need to be realigned through a proper fitness regime. BODY20’s technology-enhanced training methods help people jump start their health routine again. “Our mission is to change the way people work out by helping EVERY.BODY.UNLEASH their super human potential to strengthen their body and their life through time condensed technology training,” affirms Christopher.
“The entire concept is based in science, we value data and science over theories and the trial and error approach.”
Science meets Fitness
Exercise improves our mood and decreases the feeling of depression, anxiety and stress. It not only increases the brain sensitivity but also acts as a natural energy booster. Team BODY20 understands that the human body and the exercise regime applied has a fundamental effect on how we feel and how we think. They realize that the workout doesn’t start with the muscles but the brain. Its unique EMS technology mimics the electric pulses your brain creates during a great workout. Combined with a one-on-one training session, the regime gives your body over 150 times more muscle contractions, which is the equivalent to hours of traditional workouts, in a mere 20 minutes. The combination workout mimics the natural action potentials the brain sends to create isometric contractions on the muscle in order to derive the most out of one’s body and time. “The entire concept is based in science, we value data and science over theories and the trial and error approach,” affirms Christopher.
Passionate about fitness, Christopher’s fiancé Kenzie wanted to make a career change from teaching, and thus the search for something tangible began. During their research they found that the techniques used today by most studios were simply old systems packaged in a different format. However, one thing that they noticed was that there was a need for something new, something unique that could allow people to become better selves in a short period of time. This was the inspiration that made them look for something better and more effective. No one has 2-3 hours a day to invest in exercise regime and almost everyone is looking out for something that could enable them to achieve the same results in a much shorter time frame. In their pursuit for something more relevant and effective, Christopher and his fiancé Kenzie came across Whole Body EMS (electro-muscle stimulation) which had become a huge part of the fitness industry in Europe. This was the Eureka moment they had been waiting for. While they were blown away by the fact that over 14 of all fitness studio’s in Germany were utilizing EMS, at the same time were confused why something like that hadn’t come to the United States. This turned out to be a major catalyst for starting a fitness revolution with BODY20. Starting from a single location in Fort Lauderdale, BODY20 became a huge success and continued to grow and within a year opened its first franchise location. The rest is history. “BODY20 serves the underserved, the professionals with a family who just don’t have enough time,” adds Christopher.
Thriving with Technology
With people getting aware about the connection between the mind and the body, the importance of a proper and effective workout is increasing every day. People are looking for fitness groups that will help them achieve their fitness goals in an effective manner. Being the first brand in the fitness industry to come up with a new way of working out, Team BODY20 is helping those people. At a time when normal fitness clubs have stuck to the same regimes, BODY20 has revolutionized the way strength and muscle is built. Every workout allows an average person to utilize a considerably higher percent of muscle fibers during the workout.
Due to the nature of its workouts, BODY20 is a technology-based brand that relies on the latest systems and tools. By using an FDA cleared electro-muscle stimulation suit to deliver isolated muscle stimulation they have taken the use of technology out of the realm of science fiction to something real. Since technology is key, over the past few months Team BODY20 has made a major push in integrating technology into their operations. Whether it is automation in the sales process or the use of workflow technology and online training, BODY20 is indeed a great example of how technology should ideally be put to its best use.
Since then the studio has been continuously upgrading their operational systems which has allowed them to reap some extraordinary results. To ensure success in a competitive landscape, it is important for them to be different from other fitness clubs in every aspect. Therefore, they have purposefully added sophistications not only to their brand but also to their growing franchise business in terms of marketing, sales, operations, franchise partner training and other aspects. “BODY20 is constantly striving to create the most profitable and simple business for our franchisees,” adds Christopher.
Conventional exercises though effective, can cause a lot of injuries of permanent nature. On the other hand, BODY20’s system which causes no strain on tendons, ligaments, or joints allows its customers to get 36,000 muscle contractions in just 20 minutes. The use of such an effective and harmless technology, allows a BODY20 franchise to offers the following advantages over other fitness clubs:
One of a kind revolutionary fitness technology.
Multi Studio strategy.
Monthly Recurring Membership Subscription Revenue.
Low staffing requirement.
Limited space requirement.
Low initial investment with high ROI.
To be a part of a BODY20 franchise doesn’t require one to be a highly successful businessman or a top notch sales person. What matters is having the same passion for health and fitness as the founders of the studio. What Team BODY20 is looking for are genuinely good people who are honest in what they do and are willing to walk the extra mile for their customers.
After the initial training, the franchise receives weekly 1 to 1 calls along with continuous training at all aspects of the business. BODY20 also offers assistance in hiring with its gymtreprenuer program in collaboration with the National Academy of Sports Medicine. The constant improvements of the processes and tools help maximize profits and ensure a good business experience.
Facing the COVID-19 challenge the BODY20 way
COVID-19 has brought the world to a complete stand still. Confining people to our homes has tremendously impacted the business world. Many businesses have been forced to either shut down completely or remain closed till the situation gets back to normal. However, Team BODY20 has been an exception to this. Even in these dire circumstances, BODY20 studios have continued to grow. If any situation arises where a location begins to fail below the set business threshold, Team BODY20 without any delays puts that location in a specialised critical care program where they meet as a team every week and does whatever it takes to bring that location up to the mark. “We are high performers; we strive for it in every aspect of our business and our lives,” emphasizes Christopher.
Despite the tough conditions, Team BODY20 remains optimistic. They have an ambitious goal to open clubs at more than 500 successful locations in a mere 5 years. Their combination of unique technology driven approach towards fitness, a great business model and successful leadership, they just might achieve their goals.
ASMR is a complex emotional state that only some people experience when they hear, see, and feel certain “triggers,” such as whispering, delicate hand movements, and light touch. The feeling is described as a tingling sensation beginning at the crown of the head which can spread down the neck and limbs. The tingling sensation comes in waves and is a “trance-like” immersive state accompanied by feelings of euphoria and relaxation.
Interest in ASMR has exploded over the past ten years since the term was coined. What started as a short whispering video on YouTube in 2009 has since gone viral. So-called “ASMRtists” gather millions of views on their videos which can elicit this trance-like state of euphoric relaxation.
Unfortunately, research hasn’t quite matched public enthusiasm, with only a handful of journal articles on the topic. So in order to understand more about this complex phenomenon, our team has launched a research network to connect people, ideas, and resources, as the future of ASMR research takes place.
But here’s what we already know.
ASMR isn’t something that everyone experiences but, for those that do, we now know there are consistencies in what they report. First, we know that ASMR typically emerges in childhood (common early examples are feeling tingles during lice checks at school, or when playing the guessing game of “what letter am I tracing on your back?”). Interestingly, when people find out ASMR is a “thing” they often report either that they thought everyone had the same experience or that it was unique to them.
Second, although people have their own particular tastes, there are remarkable consistencies in ASMR triggers. Common triggers include soft touch, whispering, soft-speaking, close personal attention, delicate hand movements and crisp sounds.
Situations that induce ASMR often involve a combination of these triggers – such as getting a haircut, or watching someone complete a mundane task like folding laundry. It’s no surprise, then, that the most popular ASMR videos simulate this layering of triggers.
There have been three brain imaging studies on ASMR. One looked at the areas activated when the reported tingles are happening in real-time. The study looked at ten participants who experienced ASMR and had them watch ASMR videos in an fMRI machine.
The study showed that periods of ASMR tingling were associated with increased activation in brain regions involved in emotion, empathy, and affiliative behaviours. These results are preliminary and based on a small sample size, but the authors liken ASMR to caring and grooming behaviours – suggesting that ASMR activates neurological pathways involved in socioemotional bonding. This idea is somewhat supported by research showing that ASMR can make those experiencing it feel more connected to other people.
Two other brain imaging studies have taken a different approach by examining differences in resting-state brain activity (when people are simply lying in a scanner) with people who do and don’t have ASMR. They found that people with ASMR have less distinct and more blended neural networks, suggesting that ASMR could happen because of a reduced ability to suppress emotional responses that we derive from our senses.
That might sound like a bad thing, but it doesn’t have to be. We all integrate information from our external world (sights, sounds, smells) to give rise to emotional experiences. But the way in which we do that can differ between people.
Being less able to inhibit connections between our inner and outer worlds can mean more intense positive emotional experiences such as getting goosebumps from our favourite music or experiencing complex emotions, like awe, in response to art.
In fact, we know that people who experience ASMR are also more likely to experience other complex multi-sensory experiences like music induced chills and synaesthesia. Unfortunately, people with ASMR are also more likely to experience misophonia, (literally meaning “hatred of sound”), which isn’t pleasant.
As well as neural differences, researchers have tried to understand ways that people with ASMR differ from those that don’t experience it. Overall, research suggests that people who experience ASMR have a greater tendency to have more immersive or absorbing experiences.
People with ASMR score higher on the personality trait of “openness to experience”, which reflects imagination, intellectual curiosity and appreciation of art and beauty.
People with ASMR are also more empathetic, at least on two measures of empathy looking at compassion and concern for others, and the ability to immerse oneself in imagination and fiction.
A quick glance at the comments on ASMR videos is enough to convince you that ASMR is really helping people: improving mood, relieving insomnia, and even counteracting loneliness.
We now have preliminary scientific evidence to support these anecdotal claims. People with ASMR show significant reductions in their heart rates when watching ASMR videos. These stress reductions were comparable to those experienced during mindfulness and music therapy. But whether or not ASMR can and should be used as an effective form of therapy is still unknown.
This is an exciting time for ASMR research because there’s still so much we don’t yet know. Future studies may want to look at whether everyone has the potential to experience ASMR, if it could be a new form of therapy. Hopefully, research might also someday be able to answer why only some people experience this unique phenomenon.