Tour 4 New Boutique Fitness Franchises | Franchise Focus


ISI Elite Training

The concept: ISI Elite Training Founder and CEO Adam Rice, a former Division I baseball player, started the company after his own experience with athletic training. “He personally used fitness as a way to lose 70 pounds and that’s what gave him the opportunity to play at the D1 level,” said COO Amanda Hall. “That athletic-based training is what he took and is what he wanted to make available to everyone at all fitness levels.” Short for Iron Sharpens Iron, Hall described ISI as a coach-led, high energy, functional workout.

The stats: Founded in 2013 and franchising since 2019, ISI Elite Training has 18 locations in 12 states. The average footprint is 2,700 square feet, with a total investment range of $245,450 to $408,150. This includes a franchise fee of $66,000 to $68,000.

The competition: Hall said ISI doesn’t have direct competitors, and noted the fitness segment has room for everyone. However, in terms of comparability, Hall said ISI is most similar to F45 Training. Although Hall said unlike F45, ISI is not a “technology forward” brand.

The challenge: ISI, like all fitness franchises, faced pandemic shutdowns and development slowdowns, but signed six new units in Q1 2022. “I think everyone faced it alongside each other,” Hall said. “The great thing about our product, though, was everything is modality-based, so our equipment isn’t plugged into the wall. We were able to take things outside and still provide workouts to our members. We also did that virtually.”



The concept: KickHouse CEO Jessica Yarmey wanted to bring something new to the kickboxing scene. “It was our vision to make kickboxing cool again,” Yarmey said. “To shine a modern spotlight on it and bring it into the boutique space in a new, fresh, clean and approachable way.” KickHouse offers eight class formats rooted in kickboxing, but each has its own unique fitness flair, she said.

The stats: Texas-based KickHouse has 35 locations open, all but one franchised. Average size is 2,500 square feet and the cost to open ranges from $248,000 to $495,000.

The competition: Yarmey said the kickboxing fitness industry is fragmented. “It’s not dissimilar to yoga,” she said. “Where anyone who has a passion for yoga went and opened a studio.” The addressable market, though, is huge. “Yes, we have competition,” she said. “But we’re really trying to keep the blinders on and deliver a great experience for people.”

The challenge: KickHouse started right at the time the pandemic was picking up. “Through many of our initial months, we were operating in an environment of high fear, with misinformation around health and wellness,” Yarmey said. “Many of our studios were also shut down for periods of time.” KickHouse made it a priority to communicate with members. “The way we overcame that was to stay as connected to our communities as possible,” Yarmey said. “Via social media, online workouts, and a lot of other ways.”



The concept: Rachel Katzman couldn’t find a fitness routine that worked for her. Then she discovered functional, motion-based fitness methods, which became the inspiration for P.volve. President Julie Cartwright said the concept provides a workout designed for women to sculpt, support and restore the body. “It’s really a first-to-market modality that is really rooted in functional fitness,” Cartwright said.

The stats: P.volve is a hybrid model, with both a digital and physical presence. It has three locations, one a 6,700-square-foot flagship studio in New York. A 3,000-square-foot location in Chicago will serve as the franchise model. “We’re opening in San Diego, with one in fall 2022, another in early 2023 and the third soon after that. We’re also going to open in Victoria, Canada, near Vancouver, and in Nashville,” she said. The cost to open a studio ranges from $423,950 to $707,000.

The competition: “I would say that much of our current studio competition includes other low-impact modalities,” Cartwright said. “You think of The Bar, Pilates studios, and even CorePower Yoga, Solidcore and Row House.” Cartwright said P.volve stands out as a company trying to bridge the gap between physical therapy and fitness.

The challenge: With its new modality format, Cartwright said the company has to educate and inform potential members about the benefits of P.volve.


Pulse Performance

The concept: A tremendous hardship led JD Busch to start Pulse Performance. About two years ago he broke his neck and was fully paralyzed, eventually relearning to use the right side of his body with the help of electronic muscle stimulation, or EMS, therapy. But that wasn’t his first exposure to EMS. Busch was visiting Europe before his neck injury and learned about full-body suits that utilize EMS as part of fitness. “The suits could be set at different frequencies, depending on how a user wanted to stimulate their muscles,” Busch said, with one frequency for building lean muscle and another for blood circulation. Pulse uses EMS technology in combination with low-impact workouts.

The stats: Busch launched Pulse Performance in 2021 and has two locations open, in San Antonio and Austin. He’s focusing early development efforts on Texas and Florida. The cost to open a Pulse ranges from $300,000 to $350,000.

The competition: EMS training is a newer modality in the United States but other franchises are already popping up. Body Time and Body Street both started in Europe and are expanding in the U.S., each with one domestic location.

The challenge: Education is the main challenge, said Busch. Since opening Pulse, he said the company has worked to help people learn what EMS is and describe how it works in relation to fitness.