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Health Club Management

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Health Club Management

Health Club Management


Interview: Rob Deutsch, F45

The founder and CEO of F45 has sold more than 900 franchises in three and a half years. He talks to Kate Cracknell about his ambitions to make F45 the largest fitness brand in the world

By Kate Cracknell, Health Club Management | Published in Health Club Management 2017 issue 9
Deutsch’s sports background influenced the creation of F45
Deutsch’s sports background influenced the creation of F45
We tap into the group exercise mentality, so people feel they’re working out with friends, and set the whole thing to funky beats mixed by our full-time DJs

What’s your background?
From a young age, I always had an appetite for sport, and played cricket and rugby competitively throughout my teens. I didn’t realise this at the time, but can now see how these sports influenced the development of F45, as F45 incorporates a lot of functional movement.
I worked as an equities trader in the financial markets for over 10 years and always found time to work out alongside my stressful job – but I saw many people failing to juggle them both. The short version of the story is that this inspired me to leave the corporate world to set up an effective training technique for busy people.

F45 was born. The first club opened in Sydney, Australia, in 2013 and we franchised in 2014. We now have over 900 studios in 31 countries – across Australia, North and South America, Asia, Europe and the Middle East – with 1,150 franchises expected to be open by the end of 2017 (for more details, see ‘F45 in Numbers’, opposite).

What’s the F45 concept?
When we launched, we set out to create a ‘third way’ – an alternative to what was available in the market at the time. On the one hand, you had people spending around AU$20 a week on gym membership but getting no innovation or motivation, so they inevitably stopped going. At the other end of the spectrum, people were paying up to AU$80 for personal training.

I wanted to create something that combined the best of both worlds. We do offer some personal training for those who want it, but our focus is very much on instructor-led group sessions that build a community, and that come with a mid-range price tag.

How would you describe your philosophy at F45?
We believe ‘Motivation + Innovation = Results.’ We aim to provide an experience that helps people to transform their lives, both physically and mentally – but in spite of this focus on results, it’s important to point out that we’re all about having fun too.

We tap into the group exercise mentality, whereby people feel that they’re working out with their friends, and we set the whole thing to funky beats mixed by our full-time DJs.

How do you drive results for members?
F45’s HIIT classes deliver a functional, results-driven, full-body workout that boosts energy levels, metabolic rate, strength and endurance. Sessions are fast-paced, with a strong community element to ensure users push themselves to the max, and there’s constant support and guidance from F45 coaches.

These coaches guide customers through a series of intense, 45-second exercises, with short breaks in between so they can catch their breath. The focus is on functional training – hence the ‘F’ in ‘F45’ – and classes last 45 minutes.

We aim to constantly surprise people with inventive new workouts: we draw from a pool of over 3,000 exercises when we construct our classes, and every three months 250 new ones are added, along with fresh equipment. So every day at F45 is different. That’s a key reason for its popularity, and why studios are popping up all over the world.

It all sounds quite hardcore – who’s your target market?
We target 25- to 40-year-old professionals who care about the way they look, but who don’t want to be professional athletes. People who love their health and fitness, but who want to strike a balance – who will most likely enjoy a glass of wine at the weekend. Our client base is 65 per cent female.

What are your roll-out plans?
We operate in 31 countries (see F45 Locations, opposite) but our focus is currently on the US and the UK. That said, we’re opening new clubs in Europe (Switzerland, Spain and France) and China. In Australia, we only have a handful of territories still available.

Any plans to evolve the F45 offering?
We’re always looking at new ways to innovate, whether it’s from a fitness or a technology standpoint.

When it comes to fitness, we’re constantly evolving our programming to ensure members get the best training in the world. I believe that we’re already leaders in technology, with a system that guides members through their whole workout and our own F45 LionHeart HeartRate technology.

However, we’re looking at new ways members might track their fitness in-studio, as well as ranking themselves against members around the world. We’re developing avatar technology in-studio and a gamification angle, which we’ll release soon.

What’s your overall vision for F45?
For F45 to be the largest fitness brand in the world.
We need to stay at the forefront of innovation. But we also need to ensure we’re able to support the enormous growth we’ve experienced: 967 studios have sold in just three-and-a-half years.

What are you most proud of so far?
I’m most proud of the community we’ve built, and the way we empower members to make dramatic life changes and achieve their body goals. We’ve also built a really strong business that’s going from strength to strength.

What are your thoughts on the fitness sector generally?
We see the fitness sector growing exponentially as people begin to choose this over other social activities. It’s on-track to become a vehicle that reconnects people and creates community, so there’s a lot of potential and huge gains to be made.


Number of studios
967 at the end of August 2017
1,150 projected by January 2018

Size of a typical studio
2,000–2, 500sq ft

Typical member base

Average pricing (UK)
Individual classes start at £25
10-class bundles £190

Franchisee investment (UK)

Staffing model
Owner/operator, head trainer, two coaches

F45: 967 clubs in total, spanning 31 countries

Americas 267

UK and Europe 43

Africa 4

Middle East 9

Asia 75

Australia and New Zealand 569

funky beats mixed by our full-time DJs
funky beats mixed by our full-time DJs
F45 is a functional, results-driven, full body workout aimed at busy people
F45 is a functional, results-driven, full body workout aimed at busy people
The brand targets 25- to 40-year-old professionals
The brand targets 25- to 40-year-old professionals
Members are inspired to make dramatic life changes to achieve their body goals
Members are inspired to make dramatic life changes to achieve their body goals
"Every day at F45 is different – that's a key reason for its popularity, and why studios are popping up all over the world" – We chat to Rob Deutsch, founder of F45, about how he sold 900 franchises in under four years...
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