Despite the trend of higher living costs and less disposable income, people’s desire to get fit and healthy has not waned. In fact, the health and beauty industry has continued to thrive throughout the last few years as healthy bodies and minds become a lifestyle.
So when Anne-Mari Forrester decided to be her own boss, she found the perfect women’s fitness franchise that suited her personal need for flexibility, desire for something hands-on and people-oriented, and love of fitness and personal training.
Where it all began
Anne-Mari loves fitness, so much so that she decided to build her career around it. “I studied sports psychology but wanted to be more hands-on, so I moved into personal training and sports nutrition. I then moved into a managerial role at Virgin Active, but once again I was in an office pushing paper, which I didn’t want to do!”
After having her first child, Anne-Mari began looking for something more flexible, so when she heard about Adventure Boot Camp, she began enquiring and found it ticked a lot of boxes.
After signing the Franchise Agreement in October 2008, Anne-Mari went through Adventure Boot Camp’s training process of a week spent learning operations and admin, and doing the bootcamp. “You’ve got to know what you’re teaching others. It was hard work but also a lot of fun.”
As Adventure Boot Camp runs in four-week camps, Anne-Mari initially started with just one class a day that she instructed herself. Since then, she’s grown her camp to four classes a day set during times working women can attend, but with two children now, she has hired a trainer who works with her other classes.
“Probably the biggest challenge was finding the location. But we found an ideal spot at Trinity House which has changing rooms and showers. Another initial challenge was getting our name out there to attract campers. There are smaller boot camp businesses that pop up, so we had to get people to trust that we were legit and that we maintained our standards,” she says.
It’s one thing waking up for exercise at 5am during summer, but it’s not as much fun when it’s cold and dark. So to keep campers motivated, Anne-Mari runs a 40 out of 40 attendance challenge: A discount is offered for June and July camps, and if campers have 100% attendance they receive spa-sponsored hampers, a certificate and go to a hosted dinner.
The bootcamp is designed for women of all ages and fitness abilities. “We’ve had great success stories: Women arrive not being able to do much physical activity, some are mature women, and before you know it they’re keeping up or out-running the younger women. Some start out shy and self-conscious but as they progress they become more confident and outgoing. That’s my reward.”
Anne-Mari plans to grow her franchise as her children get older. “The Franchise Agreement allows me to open a second location within a 5km radius of my territory, so I’m looking for another location for our campers.”
Keeping things fresh
Every year, Adventure Boot Camp gets its franchisees together for a retreat. “When you’re an independent business there’s only so much you can do on your own, and often you’re in competition with your neighbour. But because we have exclusive territories, the franchisees are more interested in helping each other with new ideas. No matter how many boot camps you sign up for, we keep things fresh!”
“A fitness qualification and experience is important, but personal training is physically and mentally demanding, so you can’t be in it for the money, it must be for the love: You must have the passion and discipline to wake up early, get out there and exercise and motivate people. And of course you must live the lifestyle to be a role model.”