Dear Editor,

Thank you for your recent First Word article (“Express Growth in Express Clubs,” April 2005). I have been a franchisee for about six years for a national health club chain, and everything you wrote was right on target. If we received even half the support we paid for, we would not have so many facilities closing. We could do better on our own as a “no-name club” than with the name of a club that has more than 20 facilities closing in the last few years in our state alone. [It would help if] corporate would waive the royalties and fees they charge us for their “support.”

Most franchisees for circuit-training facilities receive very little if any training. What training they do receive is how to sell, not how to service members.

And you are right — something is wrong with the model.

Thanks again. Your article made me feel better.
Name Withheld Upon Request

Dear Editor,

I understand why you're wondering about express club franchises not doing well in the long run because of franchiser neglect (First Word, April 2005), however, good franchises do exist. I suggest you check out the SuperSlow Zone® (SSZ). We have been doing circuit training for more than 30 years. It started at Nautilus, and SuperSlow was a high-intensity, low-force derivative. SSZ recently moved to a franchise model but formerly used a licensing agreement.

Our renewal rate is always between 60 and 70 percent, so retention for us is not an issue. My worst problem right now is not angering people because I don't have time slots available. For the record, we don't call it an express club either. The brevity of the workouts is a necessity, not what you can “get away with.”

I appreciate Curves' marketing efforts to get the word out that shorter workouts are excellent after so many Ph.D.s turned people off by saying they had to work out for 30-60 minutes a day. Nobody's going to even attempt it now. What's worse is now they think that shorter workouts won't do anything because it doesn't even come close to the same length of time, when in reality, the opposite is true.
Chris Lutz
The SuperSlow Zone (Sterling, VA and Gaithersburg, MD)