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Assisted Stretching Franchises Are the Next Big Thing in Wellness

Assisted Stretching Franchises Are the Next Big Thing in Wellness

StretchLab and Stretch Zone have each opened over 300 franchise locations as consumers fully embrace stretching services

In a world where consumers are increasingly focusing on fitness and wellness, one new sector is quickly gaining popularity: assisted stretching.

This growing new sector has led to stretching franchises like StretchLab and Stretch Zone popping up across the country, while gyms and fitness operators, including Life Time and GymGuyz, are rapidly adding assisted stretching to their services.

Tony Zaccario, president and CEO of Stretch Zone, is in the middle of the assisted stretching craze, with Stretch Zone having launched over 100 new locations this year, boasting a compound annual growth rate of 58% over the past four years.

“I think what’s fascinating is that the general public is starting to prioritize their overall health and wellness a lot more than they have in the past,” Zaccario said.

While those who may have initially been attracted to assisted stretching are routinely physically active, like weekend warriors or collegiate athletes, Zaccario sees that all people are beginning to realize the benefits of basic steps to improve overall well-being, whether through assisted stretching or simply going for a walk.

“Combine that with an aging population and I think there’s going to continue to be ample opportunity in the health and wellness industry and the assisted stretching industry,” Zaccario said. “The ceiling is still yet to be seen when it comes to the assisted stretch industry,” 

The Stretch Zone Approach

The goals of Stretch Zone clients are taken into account in order to deliver the optimal assisted stretching routine, which is paramount to the franchisor.

“We always strive to design programs unique to the individual because it’s understanding that longevity means completely different things to every single individual, depending on what your goal is,” Zaccario said. “That’s why we’re adamant for our franchisees and their team members to understand why a person is even interested in a stretching routine and what are the differences they want to make in their life.”

credit: Stretch Zone

Fully confident in the life-changing service it can provide to guests, Stretch Zone offers a complimentary assisted stretching session for those new to its studios. While the “first stretch-free” concept may go against the grain, Zaccario says it’s been a big piece of spreading the word early on. 

“People could see the difference firsthand immediately,” he said of the complimentary stretches. “The other big piece is that it’s such a great service.”

As Stretch Zone continues to grow, Zaccario shares that the process has been very organic, with stores as far as Anchorage, Alaska. 

“We’re well on our way and pretty close to the 350 mark as far as open locations by the end of the year and 500 open locations across the country next year,” Zaccario said. “It starts with finding good people with good human characteristics.”

Tony Zaccario (credit: Stretch Zone)

Aside from passionate franchisees, Stretch Zone is relatively easy to launch.

“We’ve developed a really robust and proven business model,” he said. “We’re not necessarily looking for people to reinvent the wheel. We just want people that want to take the playbook and run with it.”

According to Zaccario, the process comes down to good people doing good things.

“When you find good franchisees who are good human beings and care about the service and care about the communities, they’re likely to attract good individuals within their respective communities who are going to take and give the utmost care of their clientele,” he says. 

For those looking to enter franchising, Zaccario advises prospective franchisees to find something they are passionate about, while also keeping one thing in mind: “As much as you are buying a product, you’re buying a business model,” he explained.

Zaccario also advises franchisee prospects to do their own research and talk to existing franchisees.

“A franchisor should never shy away from having you talk to existing franchisees or even old franchisees if it’s a good brand and a good product,” he points out. “I think that that level of transparency has been paramount to our growth and a big reason why we have 300+ stores, because we’re not going to shy away from any of that because we try to run everything the right way and stay on the up and up.”

Xponential Hits it Big With StretchLab

Another assisted stretching behemoth, StretchLab, one of Xponential Fitness’ most valuable and successful brands, has opened over 350 studios in the U.S. and internationally, looking to hit 400 by the end of the year. 

“That seems like a big number, but it’s still not in the grand scheme of where we know we’re going to be in the next few years,” Verdine Baker, StretchLab president, has told Athletech News.

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Verdine Baker (credit: Xponential Fitness)

The brand is looking to make assisted stretching as familiar as booking a massage, hoping to win over consumers by proving that assisted stretching trumps getting a massage in terms of lasting health effects.

“Massage therapy is a fantastic modality, but a lot of our members will say, ‘I’ll get a message and I’ll feel good immediately after the massage, but a few days later I may not be getting the long-term effect,'” Baker explained.

The clientele at StretchLab ranges from athletes to active seniors eager to feel the benefits of assisted stretching. 

As for franchising, Baker explained that Xponential is able to get partners to open their doors “already in the black, or as close to it as possible.”

“We start our presale process quickly, so while a studio is getting built we’re able to generate memberships,” he shared. “That also means getting our franchisees prepared for presale. What we’re doing in our franchise training and general management training is less about trying to teach somebody a whole entire playbook, when they’re going to need a quarter of the playbook in the next three to six months.”

credit: Xponential Fitness

StretchLab also leverages digital advertising to acquire members, with a strong correlation between the number of leads in presale and how strong a studio opens. 

“We’ve also added automation as part of our communication, so potential members are able to get the right information about who we are and what we do at StretchLab even before that franchise owner has labor that can execute those communications,” Baker noted.

The assisted stretching brand looks for franchisees who are accountable leaders who can follow the famous Xponential playbook.

“We’re going to give you people, real industry experts, who are going to help you every step of the way, but you have to execute as a franchise partner,” Baker said. “I can’t have my vice president of sales and operations come out and sell memberships for a partner long term or my vice president of training and experience come out and stretch somebody long term. Our partners have to be able to set the right expectations and hold their teams accountable.”

Like anything else in fitness, it’s about “building the right culture,” Baker says.

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