About Time You Met: Rob Deutsch, Founder and CEO of F45By Angelica Malin
F45 is one of the fastest growing fitness franchises in the world, having sold more than 1,000 franchises in three and a half years. Founder and CEO, Rob Deutsch has cracked the recipe to workout success: a personlised gym approach without the personal training price tag. We sat down with Rob to chat founding F45, growing a business and what he thinks of the wellness scene in London:
Tell us the journey of F45? How did it come about?
F45 was set up in 2011 after I saw that there was a clear gap in the health and fitness market between personal training and commercial gyms. I could see that many gym members were not getting the results or innovation that they wanted from their gym, which led to dissatisfaction and poor attendance. On the other end of the spectrum, there were those who were exercising regularly with a personal trainer at £60 a session and getting the results they wanted, but obviously this is not an option for the majority of the population. I wanted to create something that combined the two in a fun environment and featured 3 core elements; motivation, innovation and results for those looking to improve their health and fitness.
I opened our first studio in Paddington, Sydney in 2012 and worked within the business daily to ensure that the formula worked. Things really took off when I brought Adam Gilchrist on board as a business partner. Adam is a franchisee expert and he saw what I was doing and said, ‘let’s franchise this’ and we did, and it’s been a pretty amazing ride ever since.
We sold our first franchise in 2013 and our franchise roll-out started in earnest in 2014, with great success in Sydney. In fact, our first 15 franchises were sold to members from the very first studio in Sydney. In 2015 we sold our first off-shore franchise in New Zealand and hit a milestone of 250 franchises. The expansion then reached the US with our first studio opening in 2015 and in 2016 we surpassed Orangetheory as the fastest growing fitness franchise, and overtook Anytime Fitness as the second largest gym operator in Australia.
The first F45 opened in the UK in early 2017 with and we have now got 20 sites open and another 50 sold which are due to open soon. Our growth rate has been phenomenal; we’re the fastest ever franchise rollout in Australia and we believe in the world. McDonald’s, Subway, Dunkin’ Donuts didn’t even go close to that. We are the fourth fastest growing franchise in the world.
As of today, we have 1138 franchises sold in 33 countries and are on target to open many, many more in the future. Our European expansion is continuing to grow with sites opening in new markets such as Spain, Sweden, the Czech Republic, and Finland.
For anyone who’s never heard of F45, tell us a little bit about the studios and the philosophy?
F45 is a global fitness training community, featuring HIIT-style workouts which produce results. Our 3 core pillars which lie in the heart of our brand and business are motivation, innovation and results, ensuring that our members get the very best out of their training and experience.
At F45, we believe that the best training is simple, effective and, most importantly, enjoyable. Drawing on a bank of over 3,000 exercises from a diverse range of popular training techniques, F45 specialises in high-intensity team training sessions that change daily. Regarded by industry professionals as some of the most innovative workouts in the world, these hugely addictive sweat-fests are designed and rigorously tested by the world’s most accomplished trainers to ensure they work every muscle group and energy system in deliberate phases throughout the year.
F45 classes incorporate the latest innovation in patent protected, fitness-based technology for systemised delivery, increased motivation and measurement, as well as post activity workout reporting resulting in an enhanced customer experience.
F45 studios are not like sterile gyms: they are fun and a lot more intimate and laden with technology. When you workout at a studio you are not surrounded by strangers, you’re training with friends. The atmosphere is totally non-intimidating and is for all ages and levels.
What was the turning point of your business?
When we hit 50 studios opened in Australia, then the floodgates seemed to open. Since that point we have gone from strength to strength both in Australia and overseas, with 40-50 franchises opening every month all over the world.
What makes F45 different to other fitness studios?
Thanks to our very own patented technology even first timers can walk into a class and hit the ground running as all the exercises are illustrated on overhead TV screens, with a count down and prompt to move to the next station. Our unique Lionheart technology and gamification software ensure members can keep an eye on their progress and performance in real time by monitoring heart rate, total calories burned and reward points and get a high-quality training experience every time. Our smartphone apps give members convenience and peace-of-mind by facilitating class bookings, delivering post workout activity reports and delivering all the necessary nutritional advice via our F45 Challenge app.
Classes are designed to constantly surprise people with inventive new workouts; there are over 3,000 exercises and every three months 250 new ones are added, along with fresh equipment.
What do you think of the health and fitness scene in London?
I see 2 things happening when it comes to the London health and fitness scene; firstly, a continued growth in boutique fitness operators and a strong consolidation in the commercial gym market. Although there is still an appetite for the very high end commercial gyms such as Equinox and Third Space, the traditional, commercial fitness market is struggling. People are leaving traditional commercial gyms to go to a more affordable budget gym provider which they complement with classes at boutique offerings. As such, I believe that the budget gyms will continue to improve and decrease prices which is great for consumers, and boutique offerings will strengthen and increase their market position.
What is your advice to people looking to explore new ways of getting fit?
Don’t be afraid of stepping outside of your comfort zones. Take the plunge and try something new and stick with it for at least 7-14 days and you will never look back.
What advice would you give to people who have never tried F45 or functional training before?
As above, be prepared to push yourself and don’t be intimidated. F45 classes are based on functional training and have been designed for anybody regardless of their fitness level or age, so take the plunge and take it your own pace and be amazed at how your fitness levels improve and how addicted you soon become.
Where do you go to switch off in London?
Depends on the time of year, but in the summer months the pool at Soho House in White City.
What’s your go to breakfast dish if you’re at home?
I always start the day with a bullet proof coffee, as it really sets me up for the day.
What’s your favourite restaurant in London?
Temper in Soho.
How do you keep up with fitness trends?
I travel the world, read magazines and books, but as a company F45 sets the trends.
What inspires you? What gets you out of bed in the morning?
Success inspires me and doing something that I really love which makes a difference to so many people. It is not difficult to get up in the morning when you love what you do, and work with a great team and have tremendous fun.
What tips would you give to people looking to start their own business?
It is very simple. Stop procrastinating. Take the plunge and dive in head first and the rest will follow
What does your average day look like?
I wake up early and answer my emails before I train at an F45 studio wherever I am in the world. Having done my exercise, I will then have my bullet proof coffee for breakfast to set me up for my day of meetings, which I tend to finish off with a dinner with friends.
For more information on F45, see the website here.