Get In Shape For Women Fitness Franchise Beefs Up In The Bay Area

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Hoping to cash in on everyone's New Year's resolutions, fitness franchises are kicking up their presence in the Bay Area.

These franchises range from creative twists on traditional workout routines, such as yoga and pilates, to new renditions of recent fitness trends, such as spinning classes and bar workouts.

"There's a huge market for taking something that has been in the workout, dance or physical therapy communities forever and making it more mainstream," said Perry Pownall, who owns the Oakland branch of San Francisco-based fitness chain Pilates ProWorks.

Started by Oscar Sanin, the fitness routine developed by Pilates ProWorks combines the slow, muscle-building techniques of pilates with fast-paced cardio moves on a pilates machine called the FitFormer that the studio designed and patented. Pownall said the company's combo workout package and customized machine has drawn a lot of local and national attention, with a model that's easy to scale.

The company, which started with a couple of locations in the Marina and Financial District a couple of years ago, has now expanded to Mill Valley, New York and Minnesota. It also has three in outposts in Colombia, where Sanin is originally from, and is looking to expand to Chicago, as well as other cities in the East and South Bay.

"It's really something new and different that offers a great workout and the benefits of pilates to a larger number of people," Pownall said.

Pilates ProWorks joins a number of other fitness franchises that have been growing strong throughout the Bay Area and expanding nationally.

They include San Francisco-born ballet bar workouts the Bar Method "" which doubled its number of stores to more than 70 locations in the U.S. last year - and the Dailey Method, based in Corte Madera, which has grown to over 40 stores worldwide, including 18 in the Bay Area.

There's also Burn San Franciso, developed by personal trainer Lisa Corsello, which combines pilates, cardio and weight training in short 55-minute workouts. Launched in 2009, Burn now has three shops in the Bay Area - including one in San Francisco's Mission District - and is looking to add three more spaces this year.

With business up 15 percent over last year, "We're ready to go bigger," said Corsello.

The Bay Area is such a hot spot for testing new fitness concepts that Brian Cook, owner of fast-growing Massachusetts-based company Get in Shape for Women, recently moved to Mill Valley to launch his workout concept locally.

"The demographics here are perfect for our model, which is relatively upscale, small group personal training sessions," said Cook, adding that the program focuses on "transforming women's bodies" with a routine that combines weight training, cardio and supportive nutrition.

The company has 90 franchise locations across the country and is doing about $28 million in revenue. It recently opened three shops in the Bay Area, including ones in Petaluma, Mill Valley and Corte Madera, with another shop set to open in Santa Rosa soon.

Cook's aggressive expansion plans call for opening 150 franchise shops throughout San Francisco and the greater region within the next five years. Like most endlessly optimistic fitness-focused business people, Cook said, "it's doable."

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