D1 Training Franchisee Shares his Formula for Start-Up Success

D1 Franchise

The Former American Ninja Warrior Scores Big by Pre-Selling Memberships

Alex Nicholas, a D1 Training franchisee in Naples, Fla., rises to all kinds of challenges. After competing on Division 1 football fields, Nicholas segued into competing on the television shows “American Ninja Warrior,” “Steve Austin’s Broken Skull Challenge” and “Sweat Inc.” with Jillian Michaels. 

Nicholas says the many minutes of fame in those hard-core, high-visibility competitions strengthened his ability to overcome obstacles of all kinds. The TV contests also shaped his entrepreneurial goal, which is to provide a fitness concept that meets adults’ needs as well as provides scholastic training to children and teens taking steps toward lifelong fitness. A D1 Training franchise offered the perfect fit for Nicholas, who brought his competitive spirit and 25 years of fitness-industry experience to D1 Training Naples. 

D1 Training franchisee Alex Nicholas competing on “American Ninja Warrior.”
D1 Training franchise Alex Nicholas competing on “American Ninja Warrior.”

That industry background includes establishing the EPIC Interval Training franchise in 2012. “I found a lot of success in this concept and was fortunate enough to have over 15 franchisees by the end of 2019,” says Nicholas, a married father of three. “Unfortunately, because of the Covid-19 pandemic, we had to shut our doors nationwide. My wife, Cassidy, still runs our online version of EPIC Interval Training called EPIC CASSIDY, and she’s very involved in the D1 Training franchise as director of coaching. She also develops the daily workouts for the adult program.”

D1 Training Franchise Kickoff

Nicholas wisely didn’t sit on the sidelines in the lead-up to his D1 Training franchise kickoff. He effectively spread the news that D1 Training was headed to Naples. Word-of-mouth and social media helped, but Nicholas offers these additional tips to enhance early days and long-term success for entrepreneurs. 

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  • Get involved in the community before you open. Partner with schools and small businesses in meaningful ways to build a broad and deep network. “It’s vital to be genuinely interested in helping your community,” Nicholas says. “Join the local chamber of commerce and participate in charity events in your area. Always look for how you can serve the community, not vice versa. You need to take the big-picture view – building goodwill and an excellent reputation will attract clients down the line.”
  • Emphasize that your business can serve clients who have varied needs. “This is crucial with a fitness concept,” Nicholas says. “Sometimes membership isn’t one-size-fits-all. If a prospective client is unsure what they are looking for in terms of a package or membership, work with them to create something that they are excited about, something that will help them work toward their individualized goals.”

Nicholas gives a for-instance from his own experience as a D1 Training franchisee. “We combine group sessions with personal training so the client stays both motivated and committed. It’s rewarding to see clients get more and more excited after seeing the results of their hard work paying off. It keeps them coming back, and they tell their friends.”

  • Hire a general manager who has a drive toward closing sales. “The GM should, of course, be passionate about the business,” Nicholas says. “But sales are imperative to franchise success. A GM who is excited and passionate about not only your business, but sales in general is imperative.” 
  • The leadership team should be an obvious presence at the business – should be the face of it. “I’m a big believer in leadership being physically present at the facility,” says Nicholas, who serves as chief operating officer of his franchise. “You, your GM and/or your sales team should be on-site as often as possible, even before the business opens. Every member of this team should be ready to talk to people who drop in out of simple curiosity or potential clients looking for a place to work out. We set up a tent outside our location while we were building out the facility. That gave us the opportunity to connect with people every day who just stopped by to see what we were developing in the space. It’s important to be excited and willing to engage with anyone who comes in the door.”

D1 Pre-Sales: Record-Setting Success

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Another tactic for Nicholas is “bundle packages, a huge driver for us in pre-sales. We combined personal training and group fitness classes for a premium membership at a bargain price. This lets us increase our commitment level from each athlete while keeping the opportunities for them economical.”

His multipoint approach clearly worked. After six weeks of pre-sales, Nicholas’ D1 Training facility opened with 99 members. His franchise reached the highest member count in the D1 Training system within three months of his grand opening in May 2022. D1 Training Naples now has 230 members.

Nicholas has a team of 12 highly engaged employees, and he checks in daily, too. “We have stayed successful because of our personal commitment to each and every athlete who walks through our door looking for support. We are constantly seeking feedback from our current membership base so that there is always a high-quality client experience at D1 Naples.”     

Scaling the D1 Franchise

D1 Training Franchise

Multi-unit ownership is likely to be Nicholas’ next step in entrepreneurship. “When the right opportunity arises, we will expand. In the current economic environment, there will be many businesses and real estate situations that will present themselves. We are currently waiting for the right one, and we’ll pounce on it because we see immense potential with this brand.”

D1 Training has more than 60 facilities operating in the United States and seeks additional partners. The total investment required to open a franchise starts at less than $130,000. This total includes a D1 Training franchise fee, which is a minimum of $19,000. For more information, visit www.d1franchise.com or call 1-855-652-0537.

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Jill Abrahamsen’s career spans more than 25 years in editorial, design, and marketing roles. As the editorial director of IFPG, she serves as editor-in-chief of Franchise Consultant Magazine and FranchiseWire. Through both platforms, Jill helps franchisors spread the word about their brands and reports on the latest franchise news and trends. A skilled storyteller, Jill communicates franchisor’s messages through feature articles and franchisee interviews.

Jill is an accomplished writer, editor and graphic designer. Her extensive experience includes key roles with major consumer publications, including Boating, Popular Photography, and Design NJ magazines. As founding editor-in-chief of Franchise Dictionary magazine, Jill developed her passion and fascination for franchising which continues to grow in her role at IFPG.
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