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F45 Plots Large-Scale Expansion in South Africa
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F45 Plots Large-Scale Expansion in South Africa

The functional fitness franchise has signed a master franchise agreement in South Africa that should see many new F45 studios open in the country

F45 Training has entered into a master franchise agreement with Johannesburg-based Functional Fitness South Africa (FFSA) to expand its functional group workout concept across the country.

Leading FFSA is CEO Karen Loader, who is already a multi-unit F45 Training franchisee of F45 in South Africa (Bryanston and Fourways).

“We are confident that this partnership will enable us to reach new heights and provide even more opportunities for F45 Training franchisees, with F45’s studio footprint steadily expanding around the world,” F45 Training CEO Tom Dowd said. “We look forward to working closely with Karen and the rest of the FFSA team to achieve our mutual goals and ensure the brand’s continued success in the (South African) market.”

The functional fitness franchisor resolved a sponsorship deal dispute with soccer icon David Beckham this month. Beckham’s venture capital firm, DB Ventures Limited, remains an investor in F45.

F45 has been rejuvenated under Dowd’s leadership since his appointment as CEO in March 2023.

It’s not been an easy journey — F45 voluntarily delisted from the New York Stock Exchange and reported a $372 million loss last fall — but Dowd seems to have taken it in stride, correcting issues of prior leadership and signing new partnerships.

Looking ahead, Dowd is confident in F45’s approach to group fitness and its ability to showcase what distinguishes the brand as a standout franchise with celebrity appeal, including Mark Wahlberg.

“I believe F45 is the world’s best workout, and it’s one of the many reasons I’m so involved in the company,” Wahlberg, an F45 investor and brand ambassador has said.

credit: F45 Training

F45 is also expanding its portfolio, pushing into the Pilates, yoga, and recovery space with the launches of FS8 and Vaura Pilates.

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FS8, which capitalizes on the popularity of Pilates and blends the modality with yoga, toning and low-impact, high-energy training, opened its flagship FS8 studio in Austin, Texas and has locations in Florida, Massachusetts and California with additional studios planned. FS8 is eyeing overseas growth as well, targeting the U.K., Europe and South Korea through master franchise agreements.

FS8 studio (credit: F45 Training)

Vaura Pilates, a “full-body sensory experience,” launched in New York City’s Upper East Side neighborhood earlier this year. Modeled after a club-like Australian Pilates concept, Vaura offers 50-minute classes underneath mood lighting and mirrored ceilings and even offers a beauty bar. 

“We saw an opportunity to bring to market two new concepts that are each unique and complementary to F45,” explained F45 chief operating officer Ryan Mayes. “It’s no secret that the Pilates and yoga categories have experienced remarkable growth as consumer interest in these modalities has grown. These categories are also quite fragmented, which creates a compelling opportunity for us to grow market share through two distinct and proven brands.”

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