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Building a robust partner network for strategic success

Chelsea Erieau-Larkin
May 7, 2024
Building a robust partner network for strategic success

It’s the year of partnerships. If you’re running a fitness franchise, you’ve already got your finger on the pulse of partnerships.

You will have noticed an increase in partnerships revolving around wellness. Trive Capital has gotten behind Formula Wellness, Wexer has partnered up with Corporate Fitness Works, and wearables brand WHOOP partnered up with both OpenAI and barre3.

Big names like Fitstop, the 33rd fastest growing company in the APAC region, have used partnerships to a huge advantage. In 2021, they partnered with Lift Brands, the parent company of Snap Fitness. Not only did they gain access to an expansive network, but they also leveraged Lift Brands' expertise in functional fitness to enhance their offerings. This strategic move allowed Fitstop to diversify its services, tap into new market segments effectively, and expand at the breakneck speed we’ve come to expect from them.

These few examples underline a simple truth: partnerships are, as they have always been, crucial to a brand's market standing. Choosing the right partner, therefore, remains a cornerstone step for any brand aiming to scale and succeed. We've been helping top-tier franchises scale for over a decade - and here's the best way to choose your partners, in our experience.

A framework for identifying strategic partners for fitness brands

To achieve scalable growth through integrations, consider partners that can amplify your capabilities in these critical areas: Systematization, Optimization, Growth, Scaling, and Visibility. Whether for equipment, software, or just marketing, picking a partner still relies on the same framework. Aim for at least one of these crucial tenets in your partnerships.


When scouting for partners, look for those who can integrate and adhere to your systems in a way that keeps consistency across all your locations. This could include partners in training programs, equipment suppliers, or software solutions that streamline operations.

One example is when Planet Fitness partnered with iFIT, a leading global health and fitness technology company, to create new iFIT trainer-led workouts that stream on the Planet Fitness mobile app. This partnership was strengthened in 2021 when Planet Fitness made a minority investment in iFIT. 


Identify partners committed to continuous improvement and can offer data-driven insights into their services or products. This could be tech partners with robust analytics capabilities or marketing firms specializing in A/B testing campaigns.

For example, Virgin Active partnered with the email security provider Mimecast to address challenges with its email infrastructure, focusing on improving uptime, security, and productivity.


Partners in this stage should have the capability to scale operations quickly in response to increasing demand. For instance, fitness equipment suppliers who can rapidly fulfill orders or construction firms with a track record of timely, scalable gym fit-outs.

Anytime Fitness partnered with Apple to grant U.S. and Canadian members access to Apple Fitness+, allowing the brand to tap into a new customer base and offer enhanced digital fitness experiences.


The ideal partners here are those with a national or global reach, who can ensure the uniformity of service and product quality across all franchises. Examples include global real estate firms and large-scale fitness equipment suppliers, like how Fitstop uses AlphaFit for equipment.

The types of partners here are incredibly varied. You could take after Virgin Active, who worked with the digital agency Future Platforms to design and build a new global mobile app; or look to Anytime Fitness, who partnered with Rainier Partners, a private equity firm, to acquire Omega Fitness - the second-largest Anytime Fitness franchisee in the U.S.


If nothing else, consider partners which contribute to your franchise’s visibility. For example, Peloton partnered with Lululemon to become their digital content provider, while Lululemon became their primary apparel partner. 

Some brands turn to celebrities, like Planet Fitness's partnership with Grammy-winning artist Megan Thee Stallion in 2023. The partnership featured Megan as the "Mother Fitness" in a marketing campaign to encourage people to prioritize their physical and mental health at Planet Fitness. 

Of course, partnerships with sports team and events are a classic for boutique fitness studios for a reason. FitStop partnered up with the Gold Coast Titans for one campaign, and were also the Official Gym Partner of the Nike Melbourne Marathon Festival. Anytime Fitness collaborated with the Movemeant Foundation, a non-profit focused on women's fitness and empowerment. They also signed up for a sponsorship partnership with the New Zealand Warriors rugby league team, becoming the official gym partner and gaining exposure to the team's fan base.

How Hapana can help boutique fitness studios and gyms scale

Hapana is a world-class partner for gyms. When we first partnered with giant BFT, they were running just 8 studios across Australia. Today, they’ve expanded their reach to over 300 studios worldwide. This growth has been facilitated by Hapana’s turnkey solutions, which include shell sites that enable BFT to quickly open new territories. This approach has cut down the usual time and hassle needed to launch new studios - making it easier for them to scale as fast as they can.

Do you want to stay on the forefront of innovation with a partner built for scaling?