Fitness Over 50

US franchisors have created a lucrative niche fitness offering for older clientele.


Fitness Over 50

Vital Stats

  • Company: Welcyon Fitness After 50
  • Est: 2009, franchised 2012
  • Footprint: 4
  • Brought to SA: US Franchise only
  • Visit: welcyon.com

Investment Capital

  • Total investment: $230 000 to $350 000
  • Franchise fee: $30 000
  • Royalty fee: 5%

US franchisors Suzy and Tom Boerboom had more than 40 years of experience in healthcare, with Tom being the president of $200 million long-term care, assisted living and home-health company Welcov Healthcare.

Noticing that mature adults lose significant muscle and bone density, experience poor balance and poor general health due to inactivity, they also realised a bigger problem that the fitness industry is skewed toward young clientele – fast-paced and busy – meaning services aren’t meeting the needs of over 50s.

So in 2009 they opened Welcyon Fitness After 50, which started franchising in 2012.

“We wanted to provide a space where people 50 years and older would feel welcomed and given a personalised service that would help them achieve their best health,” says Suzy.

What they do

“We found that if you’re not young and fit it’s tough going to the gym,” says Tom.

“Traditional gyms are often over-crowded, under-serviced and overwhelming to older adults, which makes their fitness and health goals tough to achieve.

“Our vision was to create a place where older adults would feel welcome and comfortable, could socialise, and receive hands-on supervision with user-friendly equipment and get a workout tailor-made for their needs.”

What this means is that Welcyon Fitness After 50 gyms are equipped with air-powered strength training equipment to minimise the risk of injury, and that provide stable, controlled, objective and repeatable exercises. The use of smart card technology for members also means that personal weight load and count repetitions are stored, and progress can be tracked through comparison graphs.

More than just gym

Welcyon Fitness After 50 gyms are designed to be more than just exercise spaces too. Nutritionists are on hand to help tailor diets to meet members’ gym and health needs, and a social area lets members enjoy socialising, and playing card games or other enjoyable activities like the Welcyon Book Club and Wii Sports.

They provide:

  • A welcoming atmosphere designed to meet the needs of ageing adults
  • Programming designed by a physical therapist following the guidelines of the American College of Sports Medicine
  • Specially-trained fitness coaches who create customised workout programmes that emphasise safety and supervision without the hourly expense of a trainer
  • One-on-one orientation given to each member to familiarise them with equipment and protocols
  • Programmes include aerobic exercise, balance training, flexibility, and strength training to build valuable muscle mass and help prevent falls – training and equipment that isn’t found in traditional gyms
  • Maintenance exercise programmes following completion of rehabilitation.

35 million

Americans are over the age of 65

75 million

Americans are baby boomers, making it one of the fastest growing and most affluent demographics in the US

4,15 million 

The number of South Africans over the age of 60. They constitute 7,8% of the total population

Tracy Lee Nicol
About the Author
Tracy-Lee Nicol is the managing editor of Franchise Zone Magazine and deputy editor of Entrepreneur Magazine. She studied her Masters degree in Art History and Visual Culture at Rhodes University and spent the next two years working and travelling in Asia. Her love of people, business and teaching is reflected in telling the stories of entrepreneurs, franchisees and franchisors, inspiring others to take the leap to being their own boss and bringing about positive change in South Africa.

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