From owning a franchise to building my own brand in five years


I am an entrepreneur who has been in the fitness industry for 12 years. Eight years ago, I became studio manager for a Fernwood Fitness gym, five years ago I bought a franchise, and in 2017 I developed my own franchise concept, ZADI Training, which I launched as co-founder in 2018. ZADI is a boutique fitness concept that is exclusively for women. I’ve worked closely with  TechnoGym to create bespoke technology that not only helps clients track their intensity and progress, but also puts systems into place to make the concept easier to execute for a franchisee. The studio also has a nightclub vibe and smaller participant-to-trainer ratios, to show that I listen to what my audience wants.

Why I liked the franchise model

Buying into a franchise is a great way to get into business without having to worry about building your brand name and putting systems into place. The fact that you are buying into a proven product and business model means that it will continue to evolve and adapt due to head office support so the you as a franchisee can focus on your customers needs and team development.

For me, I decided to buy into Fernwood Fitness because I had been managing a club for four years and wanted a new challenge. I also felt that with the support and systems, I could focus on taking the club to another level by investing in my team and customer satisfaction. I managed to double the member base in one-and-a-half years and felt confident with the winning formula.

But while that is still a successful model, technology allows us to make this process more seamless, which is great for quality control especially as more studios launch.

With ZADI, our training program came first and the technology to scale it had to come second. We reached out to worldwide leader Technogym to create bespoke technology that allows us to deliver our exercise science approved programs including options to suit all fitness levels that are displayed on a screen in every studio. Clients heart rates are also displayed allowing them to keep track of their intensity. This allows us to put all sorts of systems into place in the back end plus we know that the sessions our trainers are delivering across all studios are safe and effective.

Why I developed my own concept after five years owning a franchise business

There has been a shift in the industry when it comes to functional group training hence the concept of ZADI. Small group training has been the growth engine in the fitness industry and in Australia alone, IBISWorld predicts revenue in the gym industry will grow at a compound annual rate of 9.3 per cent over the five years through 2016-17, to reach $2.1 billion.

I saw a gap in the market for a bespoke fitness program, targeting the younger female market, aged 18-34. There is a new breed of women who are driving the change in the fitness industry. They decide how they train, where they train and who they train with and many are prefering small boutique studios that have a specialty. I pitched the idea of a badass boutique HIIT/Strength studio for women to female fitness brand and the CEO and Founder Diana Williams, who has been in the industry for 30 years with many awards and 70 health clubs under her belt, agreed to come on board. Needless to say that this partnership is a dream for a new brand like mine.

Adala Bolto, Co-Founder, ZADI Training