Self-Serve Wellness Growing Strong

One of the most intriguing focuses of franchise ingenuity and development is in the health and wellness sector, with segments being dissected into smaller slices and appealing to more specific populations of potential customers.

The traditional “gym” concept has been around for decades with few innovations and, except for the current COVID-19 impact, continues to meet the needs for many. Yet, consumers are increasingly seeking more personalized ways to take care of themselves. They want to take control of their health by choosing the when, where and how; not waiting for a prescription, or life event, to force them into action.

This is spawning new and exciting opportunities in franchising.

Gray Boom Fueling Demand

The statistics surrounding the U.S. aging population clearly indicate more active seniors that are living longer. Life expectancy is increasing and statistics clearly reveal the need for better options for seniors when it comes to fitness and health.  By the year 2030, it is estimated that six out of every 10 Baby Boomers will be managing some type of chronic condition, like diabetes, arthritis or osteoporosis. These trends are driving the rapid expansion of two segments: boutique medical concepts and active-life wellness businesses. 

Personal Service Medical

The aging population is taking direct control of meeting their medical needs by going to The Joint when they need an adjustment, FYZICAL when they need physical therapy, AFC Urgent Care for immediate medical attention and AnyLabTest Now as the name suggests.  These options offer an increasing array of participation opportunities including pay per service, memberships, subscriptions and discount programs. Many are putting together combinations of providers to create a very personal medical plan tailored to their needs and interests. Given the size of our aging population, these options will persist well into the next decade. 

Wellness Breaking Down Barriers

The traditional fitness trajectory for the 45 and older crowd can be best described as decreasing physical activity, diminishing energy levels and increasing injuries or ailments from past injuries. This population is increasingly seeking fitness activities that better match their abilities in environments that are more conducive to their physical and mental wellbeing. 

Walter Vendel, an entrepreneur in the Netherlands, understood this ten years ago when he and a physical therapist decided to create a concept that provided an effective, no-nonsense approach to strength training based on strong science. 

They launched fit20 “fit in 20 minutes”, with a deliberate and intense focus on improving the quality of members’ lives. 

The concept works for any age but has been most attractive to the aging population, providing them with a personal trainer to guide them through the slow motion, high-intensity workout. This boutique concept spread rapidly in Holland and is expanding internationally with master franchises in nine countries, including the U.S.

Serving Underserved Populations

According to the CDC, in the U.S. there are over 60 million people living with a disability, that is one out of every four Americans. The continuum of disability is vast, from hearing/vision loss to amputees, yet opportunities in franchising are minimal. 

The fit20 concept in the U.S. is seeing an attraction by this segment given that the training is personal and can accommodate most physical needs and specialty requirements. The fact that we can effectively support the aging population, wounded warriors, and persons with a wide variety of disabilities is heartwarming and gratifying.

Entrepreneurs and Investors Needed

Franchising is a powerful economic model and now is a great time for expanding new and exciting health and wellness concepts to meet demands. Inspired entrepreneurs are needed to develop and expand new segments of medical and wellness solutions that tailor to specific needs. Investors are needed to bring these concepts to market and many investment analysts recommend shifting portfolios toward the aging economy. This may be the best time to invest in yourself by bringing a health and wellness franchise to your local market.

Dr. Litalien is the founder and principal of Franchise Well, a specialized consulting practice supporting franchise companies, prospective franchisees and nonprofit organizations interested in the franchise sector.  He also serves as the Chief Development Officer for fit20 USA. Ben teaches the Franchise Management Certification Program at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.  For more information visit

Raymond Kusch is a service-disabled veteran that attended the Franchise Management Certificate program at Georgetown University, sponsored by the USO, and recently became an investor in the fit20 U.S. master franchise. He is completing graduate work at the University of Notre Dame, sits on fit20 USA’s Board of Directors, and as serves as Growth Strategy Advisor to emphasize fit20’s benefits to veteran and disabled communities. For more information visit

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