Anthony Geisler’s Journey: Transforming Xponential Fitness into a Global Franchise Powerhouse

Xponential Fitness Founder, Director and CEO Anthony Geisler has grown the boutique fitness company into the largest global franchise group of health and wellness brands.

When Anthony Geisler decided to take out a membership at his local boxing gym, LA Boxing, over 20 years ago, little did he know that he was setting out on a path that would also reshape the look of his career.

The gym was owned by a couple of boxers with a great deal of passion for the sport. As he fitted in workouts around his entrepreneurial endeavors, Geisler soon found plenty of potential for his business acumen to reshape the operation.

“There was the challenge of opening and running multiple brands at the same time, but there was also the potential to explore the synergies that this brings.”

In 2001, he purchased the gym and dived headfirst into the business of fitness franchising. When he sold it in 2012 to UFC Gym, LA Boxing had become a nationwide name for boxing, kickboxing and mixed martial arts fitness. Soon after, he made his next acquisition, Reformer Pilates studio Club Pilates and, using the same successful formula, quadrupled the number of studios in an intense two-year growth period.

Club Pilates also became the first fitness brand in Xponential Fitness, a boutique fitness, health and wellness company Geisler founded in 2017. In just over six years, the business has grown into the largest provider of boutique fitness in the world, with 3,000-plus stores across 23 countries. Last year, the company opened a new store every 15 hours.

A BOUTIQUE NAME

For Geisler, the key word for Xponential Fitness (Xpo) is ‘boutique’.

“These are 1500–2000-square-foot [140–185-square-meter] small box community gyms, typically located in a grocery-anchored retail shopping center, next to a Whole Foods, Bristol Farms, Sprouts Farmers Market, Trader Joe’s or a Starbucks,” he explains.

Its portfolio ranges from Pilates to barre, cycling, rowing, dance, yoga, boxing, strength training, stretching and metabolic health, across brands such as Pure Barre, CycleBar, YogaSix, Stretch Lab, Row House, Rumble, BFT, AKT, Lindora and Club Pilates.

This diversified nature was exactly the opportunity Geisler had spotted when founding Xpo.

“There was the challenge of opening and running multiple brands at the same time, but there was also the potential to explore the synergies that this brings,” he explains. “Because you have brands that are at the top of their game, sharing their best practices.”

This kind of aggregation could be found in other industries, but hadn’t been done in fitness. “It was something that I wanted to explore,” Geisler explains.

FRANCHISE FIRST

As with his previous businesses, Xpo is fully franchised. “It has never been in our business model to open greenfield stores that we would operate,” he says. The majority of its franchise owners are what he calls ‘corporate refugees’.

“They are typically people that have been in their career for 20 or more years and they are looking to do something different,” he says. “They are looking for a second lease on life, to do something that they love with their family and that is good for the community.”

“We provide everything from site selection, real estate negotiation and construction, procurement and installation of equipment to guidance and certification of instructors and hiring front desk staff.”

Most of them aren’t yogis or professional boxers, but they have run departments or businesses. Xpo supplies the playbook and the network for success, particularly in the areas where these first-time franchisees may be out of their comfort zone.

“We provide everything from site selection, real estate negotiation and construction, procurement and installation of equipment to guidance and certification of instructors and hiring front desk staff,” he says.

Marketing, advertising and brand awareness are some of the ways Geisler and his corporate team provide ongoing support, something that is also emphasized by many franchise owners. While recent media reports have brought Xpo into the spotlight, with some past and present franchisees reporting financial difficulties verging on bankruptcy, the claims against the company remain unproven.

“We feel like we’re at the right pace for the company with 10 brands and the countries we are present in.”

For the many Xpo franchisees who have embraced studio ownership, it is business as usual.

“The playbook and the sales process have helped tremendously to get people into the studio through lead generation, very clear processes and staff training,” Tania Rupp, a multi-unit YogaSix franchise owner in Florida, tells The CEO Magazine.

Chris Fichaud, a multi-unit Club Pilates franchise owner, who has recently acquired the master franchise rights for Switzerland, Ireland and France, agrees. “I’ve been with the franchise since 2015. I’ve watched it grow. My studios have grown. I started with one unit and am now up to seven,” he says.

 “We’ve exceeded goals and we’ve broken records,” adds Lanie Marinelli, a multi-unit Pure Barre franchise owner from Colorado. “But that’s really a bonus for everything else that comes with it: the joy of the studio and the members and building a community.”

AT THE RIGHT PACE

Looking forward, and in response to the question of what’s next, Geisler explains that he is measured about his approach to growth.

“There’s only so many stores you can open in a year and open them properly,” he says.

“We feel like we’re at the right pace for the company and the countries we are present in.”

Source: CHRISSIE MCCLATCHIE The CEO Magazine

Xponential is seeking master franchisees with extensive experience to help grow the brand internationally. For more information about Xponential franchise opportunities in your region, please visit

Club Pilates 

Rumble

StretchLab

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