Business Owner Spotlight - Fitstop Northcote
“We are so lucky to have such a positive impact on people's lives through what we do”
When we think of Fitstoppers for life, we think of Mark and Kylie, and there’s a couple of reasons for this. They’re incredibly passionate about their community, it’s a huge part of their WHY. They love training with their community, supporting their community and also empowering their team to have this same passion in every session.
So when it comes to Fitstop, they’re obsessed. But when it really comes down to it, we call them Fitstoppers for life based on one key thing; they stop at nothing to show up for the communities, no matter what. Throughout Melbourne’s lockdowns, Mark and Kylie can safely say they genuinely changed their communities lives.
The results speak for themselves; from August 2021 to August 2022, they experienced a growth of over 55%. Now, they’re showing the fitness industry that Victoria is the place to be as Fitstop Northcote has become one of the highest performing locations in the entire Fitstop network. From being the first location to launch into Victoria to now one of the most successful Fitstop locations in our global network, Mark and Kylie have a fantastic story that I know you’ll find incredibly valuable.
1. What is your background outside of owning your own Fitstop?
Mark and I have both come from customer service backgrounds. Mark from hospitality, into the personal training world before moving into roles of opening and managing a chain of 24/7 gyms where he stayed for 10 years. I was a hairdresser before working within and managing a chain of hairdressing based businesses where I stayed for 12 years. After having our first child in 2014 I decided to set myself some health and fitness goals and that then progressed into studying my certificates for group and personal training. It`s been my chosen career ever since.
2. What motivated you to take the next step and open your own Fitstop and be the first to launch in Victoria?
After our second child was born I had a home gym set up that I was training clients from and as I started to attract more small groups wanting to train together I kept thinking about how great it would be to take it outside of my home and be able to impact more lives. A lot of my clients were mums and I could see how the time spent with others through fitness was so beneficial for them mentally and physically.
At that time Mark was managing a 24/7 and we were approached to sell it. Once the decision was made to sell we began talking about next steps for us. The thought of beginning our own start up fitness model was far too overwhelming for us at that stage in our lives so we began researching group training franchises.We came across Fitstop and after talking with Bec we very quickly made the decision to purchase flights from Melbourne and try it out for ourselves.
After one Fitstop session we were 100% sold; the training, community and energy was next level and we knew we had to bring it to Victoria.
3. When taking this step with Fitstop, what were the most important things you needed out of a franchise business?
We needed something that was ready to go, systems, support, programming and education. Knowing we had that sorted meant we just had to focus on building a community that was as passionate about Fitstop as we were. We could then focus on delivering "world class" service and sessions to each and every member that came through our door.
4. How have you found the support from Fitstop and how does this contribute to your overall success?
Being the very first location to open outside of QLD was a learning opportunity for everyone. We had some bumps along the way but we got through them through communicating with HQ and we always felt supported.
We have seen the evolution of the systems that are now in place for new franchisee owners and it`s constantly improving. All build specifics from start to finish, the Fitstop App (built specifically for Fitstop), the Fitstop Academy for onboarding processes for staff and owners, consistency across the brand through programming and fitouts, regular online & in person meetings, constant communication around quarterly campaigns and tech updates and knowing that we can pick up the phone at any time to chat about issues or ideas has definitely helped with our success.
5. What are your top tips for creating such a strong community, and making a genuine impact in the broader Northcote community?
You need to fall in love with Fitstop from a member perspective first. That way you will always deliver the feeling you get from participating in a session to others. You have to be involved with your community. Members can tell that we love being there with them as much as they love being there with us, it`s absolutely a team effort, never us and them, it`s one and the same.
Being inclusive of everyone and not portraying that you need to be a certain "type" to join our team is also something we pride ourselves on. It`s also about how you run the sessions from the very beginning. We always ensure that when we have grouped our teams in their stations that we announce to the class that if they don't know the people they are working out with then they should introduce themselves and this breaks down so many barriers from the get go.
We always end the session by congratulating everyone on their efforts and inviting them to congratulate their teammates.Building that sense of community from the first session and reinforcing it consistently each time makes for some really strong connections and friendships.
6. What is your team dynamic, and how do you operate a thriving (and continuously growing) location?
We opened May 2019 and had the crazy Melbourne lockdowns begin before we turned one! The year and a half of lockdown disruption that followed was tough to say the least but that community bond we cemented in the 10 months of being open got us through.
When we originally opened it was Mark and I as trainers and everything admin/member experience related. We also had one trainer taking between 3-5 blocks a week ( the higher end as we grew), and have more recently been focusing on finding another trainer to take another 2 blocks a week as our business has really started to accelerate in growth and we have had to put on more sessions on our timetable to accommodate membership growth (all exciting!).
7. What advice would you give to someone who is passionate about Fitstop and is looking to make their mark in Victoria?
Choose a location you can be part of the community in every day…shop there, walk there, have kids that go to school there, live or have your location be present as close to your chosen location as possible.
If you're passionate about Fitstop you are going to be successful.
8. What did winning community of the year mean to you?
So much! It really cemented that what we have is something special and that it should be celebrated because we have all worked really hard to make it what it is.
9. What’s next in your journey with Fitstop?
Our aim is to see where we are at after a full year of being open without any interruption. We want a thriving location and we are really investing in getting coaches that join our team to be as passionate about Fitstop as we are. For us, it’s all about being able to step away from our location and know our members are getting the same care and service we would give ourselves.
It would be wonderful to see one of these coaches want to go into partnership with us on their own location in the future.
10. How has Fitstop changed your life?
In so many ways!
Our journey has been so big, it has taught us that we are an unbelievable team in life and business, that we can always make good of any situation, that hard work pays off, that the Northcote community is a vibe and so special to us, that we are so lucky to have such a positive impact on people's lives through what we do and that the journey doesn't end it just gets different and more exciting!
Want to know more?
Fitstop Northcote, alongside Fitstop as a whole , is making huge moves in Victoria. We’ve got exciting expansion plans, on the ground support and initiatives that are only going to broaden this impact.
If you haven’t already, download your free information pack to hear more about our expansion plans and what’s next for Fitstop, and how you could be involved.