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Gretchen Shannon - CEO of FitZone for Women

Gretchen Shannon is the President & CEO of FitZone for Women - a health club that is exclusively designed FOR WOMEN - BY WOMEN. FitZone is one of the fastest growing health club franchises in the United States today.

1. Do you think people are becoming more conscious of fitness in this decade?

I think that people are becoming more interested in fitness for health reasons. Our fast pace, fast food lifestyle is catching up with us and it is time to start taking control of our health.

2. What is the story behind FitZone for Women?

After looking at all the "bare bones" women's facilities, all designed by men, I decided that it was time to give women the facility that they deserve. Fit Zone for Women was designed to give women a quality facility with all the amenities that women want. Our health clubs are large enough to offer all of the amenities, but not so big that it loses the individual attention. We offer top of the line Nautilus circuit training equipment with unlimited personal training. Our Nautilus cardiovascular training area is equipped with individual entertainment centers attached to each machine. Our group fitness area is equipped with all the weights, bands and tubes that you will need to do any of the dozens of classes that are offered a week from step aerobics to ball blast Pilate's, yoga, total body workout or Zumba. Each member has unlimited use and it is all included in the membership.

3. Why do you believe putting fun into a work out is important?

Our clubs are energetic, fun places to be. The members look forward to coming and having fun. When you enjoy your workout experience you attend more often. You wouldn't think of missing your workout. The more you attend, the greater your results. So fun is the key to getting in shape.

4. How have you achieved this in your training centers?

By listening to what women really want in a facility, we have incorporated several elements that have set the concept apart from the industry norm, for example, high energy music, bright lights and fun colors create an exuberant and energetic vibe throughout our state-of-the art fitness centers. Our staff is very fun, friendly and service oriented. The spacious atmosphere is equipped with an array of cardio and weight machines manufactured for Fit Zone for Women by NautilusR, the most recognized fitness brand in the world and the originators of circuit training. The workout area is surrounded by an aerobic floor, creating an inviting and uplifting atmosphere that sparks instant motivation, everything women need and want in a health-club facility.

5. What made you decide to franchise?

We have put together the perfect fitness center for women. With over 100 years of combined experience plus the time taken to poll our members to find out exactly what they want. We have a panel of 12 women from various walks of lives help me with the decision making. Fit Zone is designed for women by women. We also have an operating system and a very extensive operations manual. This is a proven system that we don't want changed.

6. Tell us more about your growth and lessons learned?

We began selling licenses for Fit Zone for Women in 2003. We were an instant success. Most of our new club owners were employees or members of existing Fit Zone for Women health clubs. They understood the importance of following our system. We knew at that point in order to keep the Fit Zone for Women brand our own, we needed to franchise and be selective to whom we sold to.

7. What kind of qualities do you expect in a potential franchisee?

A potential franchisee should enjoy the fitness field. They should also want to be self employed, not being limited to someone else's decision making. You can always tell a business that has an on-site owner. The customer service and quality is always higher.

8. How gratifying would owning a FitZone for Women franchise be for franchisees?

Almost everyone dreams of owning their own business. Creating a future for their family, something that their children can grow up in and contribute to. It's nice to be in a profession that makes a difference in so many peoples lives. It is very rewarding. There are so many wonderful things that you can do to help people.

9. How has it been juggling motherhood with a successful career? Do you believe that both can co-exist and that women can after all have it all?

When you own your own Fit Zone for Women health club, you set your own schedule. Never again will you have to miss school functions because you had to work. I have two children and I have never missed anything. I've been room mother, tutor at school, fundraisers, school trips conferences. You set your own schedule. Can you imagine no more guilt about missing your children's activities! I have some franchisees that are absentee owners.
They have chosen to keep their jobs and hire a manager to manage their club.

10. If a mom was to ask you, why should I join FitZone for Women franchise, what would you tell her?

It's a perfect fit for all women. If you enjoy working with women, providing a future for your children and doing something to empower other women as well as make a difference in their lives then Fit Zone for Women is for you. One franchisee was overweight and so were her daughters. She decided that this was a healthy future for all of them. The members loved the fact that she was losing weight and getting into shape right along with them. In addition, Fit Zone for Women offers extensive training and ongoing support that helps owners in every aspect of the business, including operations, training, marketing sales and finance. At this time, we are looking for potential franchisees eager to own and operate their own business. The average startup cost to open a Fit Zone for Women franchise is $101,100-$150,450

11. What is your advice to other moms out there trying to make it in business?

Do something that is fun for you and that you enjoy. There are enough things in life that you have to do. Make sure that when you pick a career; it is something that you would love to do. Make sure that every morning when you get up you say "I'm not going to work; I'm going to the gym."

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