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How Step into Life started
The company began when Larry Cohen placed an advert in the local Melbourne paper for outdoor group training and received more than 70 phone calls in the first few days. The huge interest he received in these training sessions made him realise most people enjoyed and remained a part of group sessions as they lacked the motivation needed to achieve their health and fitness goals on their own. In 2001, the concept of his business grew into a franchise model, which allowed for reward for effort and meant each personal trainer had a vested interest in growing their business successfully. The aim was to be unique and specialise in group outdoor personal training.

In 2003, master franchising on a national scale commenced. The system added the next level of management, sales and support to the business, meaning franchisees had the benefit of a sophisticated support structure within Step into Life. The master’s primary focus was to ensure franchises provide fun and entertaining group outdoor personal training to members in a social environment and to grow the territory.

The growing trend of group outdoor personal training The confinement of gyms for members who have mostly been working indoors all day is turning more people toward wanting to exercise outdoors. With outdoor exercise activities and group personal training ranked in the top 12 worldwide fitness trends for 2015, people are embracing the group outdoor personal training movement more than ever. Fitness Australia CEO Lauretta Stace recently noted the appeal of training in groups outside.

“The group and social dynamics stimulates conversation and motivation for those within the group,” she said. “As human beings we all want to be socially active, feel safe and have a sense of belonging; group outdoor personal training provides the opportunity for that to flourish.”

Step into Life founder and director Larry Cohen said the green exercise movement is about people’s interest in getting fresh air while they train. “It’s a combination of the fresh air,
increased light, the calming sounds of nature and grass underfoot, along with the exercise that make it so popular,” Cohen said. Training, nutrition and more Step into Life provides eight unique programs for clients so they can discuss the best type and frequency of training for them at a given time. The programs cover all the essential training elements that ensure success, including cardiovascular fitness improvement, weight loss, fat loss, strength and conditioning, flexibility, power and fun. These include cardio, toning, boxing, core, Pilates/yoga, as well as running events, boot camp and corporate packages.

The company also has a partnership with dietition Matt O’Neill, who provides clients with nutrition plans if they are interested. This supply arrangement with Metabolic Jumpstart came about in 2011. While Step into Life are experts in group outdoor personal training, they also recognise the vital importance of nutrition, and decided to form this partnership as a result.

Along with the training and optional nutrition plans, Step into Life has an online shop that supplies branded clothing and training equipment for clients. This idea came about in 1995,
with the first item of clothing being a T-shirt. Members loved wearing their shirts to training sessions as they felt part of a team. It is still popular today because members feel they belong, especially when they do a fun run and get to meet and encourage members from other franchise locations they recognise due to the gear they are wearing.

Step into Life’s franchisees All franchisees are qualified with their Certificate IV in Personal Training, and strive to gain a clear and realistic picture of each individual’s personal fitness goals. They then match the Step into Life proven programs to help clients succeed. They make a promise to every individual that they will have access to a range of world-class fitness
programs, tailored to their fitness level and delivered to help them achieve their own long-term fitness goals.

Becoming a Step into Life franchisee An initial investment of $40,000 in a Step into Life franchise provides personal trainers with all the fundamental tools they’ll need to build the franchise. Franchisees receive a complete business start-up package with their investment. The initial investment includes comprehensive induction training and every item of training equipment used to train the members. They also receive stationery, uniforms, advertising materials and a vehicle wrap. Every franchisee secures an exclusive territory and an advertising launch for their exclusive territory. They are given business cards, dumbbells and other equipment – in fact, anything you can think of that is required when starting a business in this industry is included.

Their aim is to ensure that franchise partners are confident and competent to launch and operate their business. To accompany this, a franchisee is provided with the following training:
■■ field experience with a successful franchise partner to show them the ropes,
■■ five days Business Boot Camp – residential training with fellow new franchise partners
■■ refresher training in their home state,
■■ 24 weeks of weekly phone-ins with a support officer,
■■ seven training program courses, which are all CEC-accredited,
■■ ongoing state meetings, new training program roll-outs, networking groups, plus phone and email support, and
■■ access to an online resource hub with training material, videos, audio files etc.

Points of difference
A Step into Life franchise follows a low overhead fitness business model that is scalable; therefore, most expenses don’t rise in proportion to growth of the business. The point of difference with a Step into Life franchise is that the income potential is unlimited due to the group training format. The only limit a franchisee may experience is their personal work ethic. A traditional personal training business model earning is potentially limited to what the trainer can physically do, whereas in a group model, the personal trainer can leverage more income per session. Business owners can also employ training support (i.e. assistant trainers) because of the group training dynamics.

A Step into Life franchise owner is building a business asset with a proven track record of income, making it possible to re-sell their business if they so wish in the future.

Skills Step into Life believes a franchisee should possess
A franchisee must:
■■ be in good health and committed to their own personal fitness,
■■ have obtained a minimum Certificate IV and Senior First Aid,
■■ possess excellent people and communication skills (they should be an ‘entertrainer’),
■■ have a good understanding of how to operate a computer,
■■ be outgoing, a natural networker and comfortable being at the centre of a group’s focus,
■■ be determined to build a profitable franchise and be prepared to put in the hours that it will require to achieve that,
■■ have a totally supportive family who understand the need for sometimes irregular working hours,
■■ want to succeed to have the ideal work-life balance,
■■ be prepared to make an initial investment and work hard to see it provide a significant and attractive return over time, and
■■ have a little in savings while they build their franchise.

Step into Life’s advice on choosing the right franchise
If you are trying to choose the best franchise for you, first you need to assess your business direction and what your interests are. If your interest is fitness in the outdoors (rather than being a gym instructor or manager, for example), then you have to make a choice about whether you prefer the traditional one-on-one training or group setting. It’s really important to follow your passion in order to achieve success.

When choosing a fitness business franchise, personal trainers need to ask:
■■ Does the franchisor have a successful, long-standing business model?
■■ Is the training and support adequate to get you started and motivated for the longterm?
■■ Do the financials stack up? What can your budget realistically afford and how much can you invest into the business? (Access what the potential turnover and profit for the business is. This is all information the franchisor can provide you.)
■■ Does the franchisor have a sound CMS (customer management system) capability for your business administration and member reporting?

For more information on Step into Life visit www.stepintolife.com.au

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