Fitness franchises offer more ways to jump-start a new exercise program – USA TODAY


Commit to a solid exercise routine this holiday season, and you’ll gift yourself stronger muscles, a healthier heart and a clearer mind. And thanks to a growing number of fitness franchises, you don’t have to live in a big city to sweat through studio-type workouts.

Compared with larger traditional gyms, franchises are typically smaller, more personal and offer coaching and instruction through a specific series of movements, says Holly Roser, a certified personal trainer in San Francisco and New York City.

They’re often more affordable than working one-on-one with a trainer — plus, they offer a sense of community and camaraderie.

So if you’re bored by the same old treadmill or elliptical sessions or aren’t sure what you’d do on your own in a weight room, one of these spots might be a good choice for you, Roser says.

Each brand has its own principles and personality, as well as a distinct take on what makes a good workout, says Jeanette DePatie, a certified fitness instructor/trainer and the creator of EveryBODYcanExercise.com.

One perk of franchises is that, if you travel, your workout can go with you. You’ll have a similar experience whether you’re sweating in Kansas City, Seattle or Chicago.

That’s good news for your fitness goals. “When we feel comfortable somewhere, we want to return,” Roser says. And that consistency is what gets you results.

To find the franchise that might work best for you, consider these factors:

Location. Scout out facilities near where you live, work and travel. “If it’s not convenient, you probably won’t go,” DePatie says. “There is no bigger waste of money than an unused gym membership.” 

Culture. While some franchises pride themselves on being open and welcoming, others cater toward more hardcore or expert exercisers, DePatie notes. Choose a vibe that makesyou feel at ease.

Commitment. Understand whether you’re buying a month-to-month membership or joining for a year or for life, DePatie says. Many franchises offer a free class or trial period, so you can sample before you sign the dotted line.

Fun factor. The best workout for you is one you enjoy, Roser says. But don’t pigeonhole yourself as someone who can’t run or hates yoga. Instead, step out of what she calls your “fitness comfort zone” and try new things — you just might come to love them.

One of these national chains just might be your perfect fitness fit:

Pure Barre

Small movements deliver big results in ballet-based classes where you’ll hold poses until they burn. It’s low-impact, but high-intensity.

CorePower Yoga

Blend the mindfulness of yoga with physically intense exercise. Choose from multiple levels and styles, including hot yoga, yoga sculpt with weights and regenerating CoreRestore.

CycleBar

It’s spin class meets strengthening — you’ll work your upper body with 4- to 6-pound bars while cycling to the beat. Each studio provides cycling shoes, though many regulars eventually buy their own.

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This newer, fast-growing chain offers Pilates-inspired workouts in which you’ll do planks, lunges and squats on a machine called “sweatlana.” Adjusting the springs changes the resistance to scale the session to your level.

Orangetheory Fitness

Science-backed high-intensity interval training means you’ll work hard, then rest, then work hard again on equipment that includes treadmills, bikes, rowers and weights.

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