LENEXA, KS — As Larry Bedell and Chuck Rappe aged, they learned first hand that it's difficult for men to continue a regular exercise routine as family and work commitments increase. That's why the former owners of Club LaFemme, women-only fitness clubs, started Nitro Fitness in September 2004 and are now franchising the 30-minute circuit facilities for men over 30 years old.

So far, the company has sold agreements for 13 facilities and has at least 11 pending franchise agreements. They expect to have 200 clubs across the country by the end of 2006.

The key card facilities offer a circuit workout on stacked weight equipment that focuses on increasing core strength.

Franchising opportunities are available for a capital investment of $67,000 to $83,750. Liquid capital required is $40,000. The investment includes the core circuit system, three to four months of operating capital, a brand-building campaign, computers and signage, said Bedell. Monthly franchise fees are $498.

For their investment, franchisees receive the first 18 months of marketing, a mailing list for everyone within a three-mile ring of the facility, an infrastructure of 12 support people and the cell phone numbers for Rappe and Bedell.

“They can call us anytime,” said Bedell. “This is our passion and business so we are here to make sure it works.”

Franchisees receive three days of training on the equipment and kinesiology, and they can then stay for a fourth day to work on people issues.

Dr. John Dougherty recently became a franchisee partly as a service to his male patients in Joplin, MO. The fact that the clubs use weight stack systems, offer levels of progression and change the circuit every four months helped sell him on the franchise.

“I'm confident that this is what we are going to use to retain our members,” Dougherty said. That's good for him in two ways: the facility does well and when he sees his members in the doctor's office, he may not have to prescribe medicine for health-related conditions.

“If you do this three times a week, you are going to see more results than you are from spending that $126 for your cholesterol pill,” he said he tells his patients about working out. “We can get rid of all those pills if I can get them down on their body mass index to even just the overweight range.”