Careers & Entrepreneurship / Editorial

Essential Habits for Building a Fast Growing Fitness Franchise

Building and operating a franchise is not for the faint-hearted. At times, I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. You’re managing supply chain, staff, franchisee relationships, financial performance, quality control, customers (and hopefully lots of customers), campaigns, sales, PR, tech, systems, brand, AND at the same time trying to grow, innovate, diversify, and build brand equity so you can be the leading product/service of choice in your market! Sounds like a lot, right? 

To lead and be successful in franchising, creating healthy habits that enable you to be productive, mindful and essentially survive the onslaught, are absolutely essential. 

Here’s what I’ve learnt over eight years of running multiple high-demand, profitable fitness businesses:


Sleep OVER everything else. My number one (not so secret) weapon to maintain productivity and get 1% better every single day. 7-9 hours per night is optimal to recharge, reset and tackle the next day with the energy and enthusiasm required to be successful.

These days, when in routine, I’m in bed around 9pm. I make sure lights in the house are dim, and I put my laptop down at 8pm, and wind down as best I can. For a great natural remedy I use magnesium oil, applied transdermally, which tends to give me a really fantastic deep sleep.

Drop Anchor (Meditative Practice)

Dropping anchor is a very useful skill I learnt from my business coach. I use it as a circuit-breaker in stressful scenarios to help ground and steady myself, which helps avoid impulsive behaviour. It involves a very simple formula: ACE.

  • A: Acknowledge your thoughts and feelings
  • C: Connect with your body
  • E: Engage in what you’re doing.

Acknowledge your thoughts and feelings – Often we have days where nothing goes to plan and it’s important to acknowledge what’s ‘showing up’ before you can address it in those situations. For me, it’s generally worrying, anxiety or anger.

Once you acknowledge these feelings, you can address them knowing they are there, they are uncomfortable, and they will come back. I’ve found it’s far better to accept uncomfortable situations & feelings, than bury and avoid them. 

Connect with your body – Come back into and connect with your physical body. Find your own way of doing this. You could try some or all of the following, or find your own methods: 

  • Slowly pushing your feet hard into the floor. 
  • Slowly straightening up your back and spine; if sitting, sitting upright and forward in your chair. 
  • Slowly pressing your fingertips together. 
  • Slowly stretching your arms or neck, shrugging your shoulders. 
  • Slowly breathing.

Engage in what you’re doing – get a sense of where you are and refocus your attention on the activity you are doing. Find your own way of doing this. I like to look around the room and notice five different objects. 

I find that running through a few cycles of ACE I am far less reactive and more measured in my decision making. It literally stops me from sending that regrettable email or saying something out of character in high-stress situations.

Prioritise Your Wellbeing

It’s kind of strange to think that prioritising physical fitness, friendships, and being selfish from time-to-time can improve productivity and performance in the workplace. But more recently, I’ve realised the power of putting yourself first and what impact it has on overall happiness. This directly correlates with performance professionally and makes you an overall better manager and leader.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about the grind; there’s times where I’ll literally wake up at 4am, have a coffee, and work for the next 16 hours. This however is not sustainable and it’s certainly not ‘living’.  My one non-negotiable is training every day. Physical fitness, breeds strong mental fitness, which rolls into overall performance and seeing outcomes for your hard work and sacrifice.

Networking & Connection

The problem with building a franchise to 50 locations with a goal of opening 300+ is there’s only a small sample of people that have done it. Making time to connect with leaders who have ‘been there, done that’ is so important. Doesn’t matter how busy I am, I always attend leadership conferences, connect with the right people, and give time to others in return.

As a result I have close friends now running similar businesses where I can flick them a WhatsApp and work through challenges & obstacles in a matter of minutes. You’re not alone in the pathway you’ve taken, and you definitely don’t need to be. 

About Author

Michael has extensive experience across the fitness industry as an entrepreneur, personal trainer and coach. With a Masters in Commerce and a background in Fitness Marketing, Michael has established several successful fitness businesses including six F45 franchises and an award winning studio in F45 Port Melbourne, as well as creating wellness brand Journey Retreats, which creates wellness getaways in Australia and Bali. In 2022, Michael was named the Young Entrepreneur of the Year in Fitness in Victoria. He is a legacy ambassador for Lululemon and continues to work closely with charities such as Beyond Blue to raise funds for mental health awareness. Today, Michael is the Co-Founder and Co-Director of STRONG Pilates - a training format that fuses pilates together with strength training to create a high intensity low impact workout for all fitness levels.