Ex_Fitness First boss launches Club W wellness franchise

By Sarah Stowe | 30 Jul 2021 View comments

Former Fitness First boss Tony Le Deede has launched the Club W wellness franchise, a concept aimed at attracting the 80 per cent of non-gym goers in Australia, with a particular focus on seniors.

A serial entrepreneur, in 2000 Le Deede became a partner and managing director of Fitness First Australia.  When he handed over the reins in 2008 the business had grown to more than 90 clubs and had a 37 per cent EBITDA on all clubs and a 42 per cent EBITDA on mature clubs.

He has launched a handful of fitness and wellness concepts including the Gold Coast hinterland luxury lifestyle retreat Gwinganna; Hotel Komune, a surf retreat, yoga and wellness resort brand in Bali and Coolangatta; Fit n Fast gyms; and YogaBar.

In 2018 he turned his attention to a multi-activity wellness centre concept, which he unveiled in Caringbah, Sydney.

Now the concept has been fine-tuned and is ready for franchising.

Club W is a community wellness space combining three concepts: Wellness Lounge, Wellness Collective and Wellness Coworking.

Le Deede told Inside Franchise Business Executive “Covid has accelerated the desire to embrace more lifestyle things. It’s the concept of a community wellness centre.” 

Club W Move studio | Inside Franchise Business Executive

Club W Move studio | Inside Franchise Business Executive

The initiative is focused on two major concepts – Move 123 and Mind 123. Each contains a host of activity options in bite-sized sessions designed to appeal to those Aussies who have never stepped foot inside a gym.

“The people we will attract have never been to a class and will embrace this, all of our instructors are over 40s, it will be a place to meet friends.”

Open to all through a membership model, the marketing however will be predominantly aimed at an older, female customer.

“We feel for a comfortable environment 50+ (age group) is the target with movement and activity delivered in immersive rooms on screens – a yin and yang room (for breathing, meditation, stretching chi) and a cardio space, with all sessions pre-recorded.

“This is wellness for everybody, every day.”

The introduction of quiet rooms for one or two people is partially driven by Covid, says Le Deede.

“You can pick your content, pick your time, pick your LED lights, pick your scent (we have a symphony of scents) and curate your own personal private workout. It’s a new element to what we’re doing.”

The concept includes wellness pods featuring equipment such as massage recovery chairs, infra red meditation and salt bricks.

Le Deede is hoping to reassign the all-Aussie idea of a smoko with what he calls a wello – a wellness break in the wellness lounge, which includes a cafe.

“The concept of a break is more relevant than ever,” he says.

Suburban co-working is already becoming the norm, points out Le Deede and the wellness co-working space seats about 35 people at individual desks; there are two-people offices, and hot or flexi desks – all available on a co-working wellness membership.

There is a basic franchise model suitable for sites of about 500m with bolt on options for some bigger sites.

Franchisees can expect to pay $400,000 plus to invest in a Club W.

Le Deede predicts a mix of corporate, shopping centre and standalone sites.

“In the corporate world we have already installed a wellness lounge inside Stockland’s headquarters. It has two immersive rooms and five pods, and everyone in the company has access to the digital platform.

“Westfield is looking ahead to what our shopping centre is going to look like in five years.”

Lifestyle, experience and wellness precincts are the future, he suggests.

“I have a vision of a 4000m huge Club W incorporating stretching, nail salon, hair salon and a fitness component.”