Xponential’s newest brand is capitalizing on the rise of strength training with a fresh, fun and more inclusive take on the modality
Strength training is quickly becoming the most popular modality in fitness, as people young and old recognize the many health and longevity benefits of building and maintaining muscle.
However, the increased public awareness of the importance of strength training doesn’t mean it’s easy for the average person to design a proper program and stay motivated to stick with it long enough to see results. This is why many people still don’t consistently strength train despite recognizing its benefits.
BFT is capitalizing on the rise of strength training with a fresh, fun and more inclusive take on the modality. The brand’s key differentiators are its well-thought-out approach to program design – classes are structured around eight-week training blocks (known as progressive programming) that can be scaled for people of all fitness levels – and its innovative use of heart-rate tracking tech to keep members engaged.
The unique approach is paying off so far. Already well established in the Asia-Pacific region (APAC), BFT is growing fast in North America since Xpontial began franchising the brand less than two years ago, with over 300 franchise licenses sold and 20 open studios.
“BFT has grown faster than StretchLab in its first 18 months in terms of territory sales, although we’re still in the early stages of getting studios open,” said Lou DeFrancisco, BFT’s President who previously served in the same role with StretchLab, growing the assisted stretching concept into one of Xponential’s top brands.
BFT’s impressive early growth is a testament to Xponential’s experience and reputation in growing boutique fitness brands, but it’s also due to the unique strength and conditioning concept on offer.
Programming That Drives Results & Engagement
BFT classes follow classic strength and conditioning principles, and programs run in eight-week cycles that allow members to measure their progress over time. Importantly, the programming for the eight-week training blocks is sent down from BFT corporate and standardized at every BFT location across the globe, which has benefits for members and franchise operators.
“It’s not randomized workouts each day, or whatever the trainer feels like doing that day,” DeFrancisco says. “That is obviously important when franchising because it’s a systematic approach to programming, so it’s not dependent on any one person at the franchisee level. Programming in these eight-week cycles is our number one differentiator in the marketplace.”
BFT offers 14 different strength and conditioning classes, each of which lasts 50 minutes and is scientifically designed to help members burn fat and build muscle while getting a full-body workout.
BFT classes are group-based and include some combination of compound weight lifting exercises like deadlifts, bench presses and kettlebell swings, bodyweight movements like box jumps and pull-ups, and cardio work including running, cycling and rowing.
Due to the highly calculated, progressive nature of the way BFT designs its programs, members come into the studio an average of five times per week, which is far higher than the general boutique fitness industry standard of two to three times.
Since BFT offers strength and conditioning, it can be the only workout people need to do, which also leads to higher levels of weekly engagement.
“You don’t need to supplement with any other type of workout, except if you want to visit a StretchLab or a yoga class, something that is truly restorative and recovery-related,” DeFrancisco notes.
A New Take on Gamification
Gamification is all the buzz in the fitness industry these days, but no brand is doing it quite like BFT. Through its proprietary BFT3 system, BFT brings the benefits of heart-rate tracking tech, long reserved for cardio only, to strength training workouts. Building on the work of BFT co-founder Cameron Falloon, who created a point system based on members’ heart rate during strength training workouts, BFT3 rewards members who get their heart rate to within specifically prescribed zones based on that day’s workout type.
“No matter what class we hold, whether its strength or conditioning style, every member is wearing a heart rate monitor, it’s displayed up on the board and our coaches – we have at least two coaches on the floor for each workout – are coaching you on where your heart rate level should be,” DeFrancisco says. “That has never been done before.”
BFT3 gamifies strength and conditioning, but it does so in an inclusive, community-centric way. Class members can earn Gold, Silver and Bronze awards based on their heart-rate levels during class, but there’s no cap on the number of people who can win each award. Conceivably, everyone in the class could earn Gold, which leads to people encouraging and drawing energy from each other rather than competing against classmates.
“You’ll see people high-fiving all the time and congratulating each other, taking selfies in front of their gold medals,” DeFrancisco says.” Things like that just organically create a sense of community within the studio. That strong sense of community within each studio is a big reason why Xponential purchased BFT.”
Fitness Fun for All Ages
BFT’s approach to strength and conditioning makes the brand accessible and attractive to a wide swath of fitness consumers. Exercises are highly scalable based on individual fitness level, and having two coaches on the floor at all times ensures that members perform movements correctly and with weights that fall within their physical capabilities.
“The benefit of having multiple coaches in a class is that it doesn’t matter what the actual exercise is, we can scale it to make it more challenging to someone that’s really fit or we can scale it down to make it more accessible for someone that is more limited in what they can do,” DeFrancisco says.
This approach also drastically lowers the risk of people getting injured while working out, a problem that some other strength-focused boutique fitness concepts face.
“Injury prevention becomes way more important for people once they reach their mid to late 30s and older,” DeFrancisco notes.”That’s a really important piece of BFT and what we’re trying to do, because as we open up more studios in suburban areas, we’re starting to attract more older populations, which is pretty cool to see.”
Currently, the average age of a BFT member is 35 to 50, and membership is about 65% females.
But BFT also appeals to people much younger and older than that, since strength training is becoming so widely appreciated.
“We’re starting to have some franchise partners speak with high schools to develop after-school programming with youth athletes,” DeFrancisco says. “We also have members in their 70s and 80s that are coming into BFT.”
As BFT looks to continue signing franchise agreements and opening studios across the country, DeFrancisco is clear on his long-term vision for the brand.
“For every brand that we bring into our portfolio at Xponential, the goal is clear, which is to be the leader in that vertical or modality,” he says.”That’s the goal with BFT, to be the leader in strength and conditioning, and we plan to accomplish that.”