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story.lead_photo.caption Phoenix Johnson, the fitness coach for the Gymguyz Bentonville franchise, demonstrates an aerobic workout using equipment carried in the company van. - Photo by Flip Putthoff

Can't make it to the gym? These guys bring the gym straight to their customers.

Two Arkansas men have opened the state's first Gymguyz franchise -- a business where a personal trainer goes to the client's home, a place of business, or even a park for a workout. Each Gymguyz van is filled with 365 pieces of exercise gear used to create targeted exercise programs that offer a lot of variety.

"You could use a different piece of equipment every day," said franchisee Bobby Carlson, who recently opened the franchise along with his business partner Michael Moore.

"It's the Uber of personal fitness," Carlson said.

The partners decided to op for a franchise so they could work with a proven business model. Gymguyz was attractive because of the franchise's leadership, the low startup costs, and the ease with which the business model could be expanded without extensive capital invested in a retail location, according to the partners.

The franchise territory includes Bella Vista, Bentonville and Rogers but the pair does not have the right of first refusal for nearby areas.*

It's predicted the franchise business will see steady growth in 2018. According to the International Franchise Association's Franchise Business Economic Outlook for 2018 by IHS Market Economics, the number of franchise establishments increased 1.6 percent in 2017 and are expected to grow 1.9 percent in 2018 to 759,000, across all sectors.

Strong economic fundamentals and the benefit of tax changes along with a favorable regulatory environment supports the "expected above-trend growth," according to the report.

Moore said the Gymguyz concept works well for those who might be averse to going to a typical gym -- including older clients, folks with mobility concerns or other disabilities, busy schedules, or those who are intimidated by the concept of gyms in general. The Gymguyz representative acts as a coach who develops a personalized program based on the client's needs and fitness goals.

According to the data company Statistica, there were more than 57.25 million fitness club memberships in 2016, up from 55 million the previous year with a total fitness market made up of more than 36,000 fitness centers.

According to a 2018 report by the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association, a trade group, health club visits are up from 4.3 billion in 2009 to 5.7 billion in 2016, a 31 percent increase. Club members were 49.8 percent male and 50.2 percent female, with the largest subsection, 28.1 percent aged 18 through 34.

Founded by Josh York in 2008 in New York, Gymguyz is expanding. With more than 160 operations in the U.S. and Canada, York has plans for Gymguyz to eventually become the largest fitness brand on the planet.

York noted Gymguyz's business model is counter to typical gyms and doesn't rely on membership fees. Fitness centers and gyms count on folks joining but not showing up, he said, where Gymguyz come to a client's front door, assuring a client gets what he pays for.

He said the brand plans to expand further in Arkansas noting the franchises have low overhead, high profit margins and are easy to scale up or down as needed.

A survey of fitness trends for 2018 by the American College of Sports Medicine indicates several of the services offered by Gymguyz will be in demand in the future. The trends include body-weight exercises, the use of educated, certified and experienced fitness professionals, personal and group training; and fitness programs for older adults.

Phoenix Johnson, the head coach for the Gymguyz Bentonville franchise, is certified by the National Academy of Sports Medicine. He said the workout gear carried in the Gymguyz van, from heavy ropes to boxing gloves, allows for extensive and interesting workouts for each client's specific needs and ability level.

"The only thing we don't have is machines and we don't need them," Johnson said.

SundayMonday Business on 02/11/2018

*CORRECTION: The owners of the first Gymguyz franchise in Arkansas do not have right of first refusal on some nearby territories. The status of the franchise opportunities was incorrect in a previous version of this story.

Print Headline: State's 1st franchise offering customers their workouts to go

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