Why Fitness Franchise F45 Embraces (and Executes) New Ideas

Fast decisions and implementation keep the business moving forward.

This story appears in the January 2020 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

F45’s fitness studios are uncluttered. The open rooms have minimal equipment off to the side and large screens everywhere. This allows F45 to constantly change workouts, unencumbered by large treadmills or rowers. The screens guide people through each class -- showing which moves to make, when to pause and hydrate, and, by syncing with a device each member wears, tracking their heart rate.

F45 | Facebook

But not long ago, some F45 employees got to thinking: Could the screens also create some friendly, live competition among studios -- calculating how hard everyone in one location is working and putting them up against everyone in another studio? So they brought up the idea at the company’s Los Angeles headquarters, and F45 did the thing that it prides itself on: It started testing the idea -- fast.

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“We’re always willing to change things. We’re always willing to hear ideas,” says cofounder and CEO Rob Deutsch. “We basically get people to put concepts together, present their concepts, and then we put an execution team together to make them happen.”

Deutsch didn’t come from the fitness world. He was an equities trader, but he got bored and drew up this new business concept on the side. He teamed up with Adam Gilchrist, an experienced franchisor he played rugby with, and for a while F45 was just the two of them. To scale, they realized, they’d need to bring on amazing people -- and to excite those amazing people, they’d need to give them the ability to make an impact.

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That’s where the commitment to execution comes from. Deutsch wants to build a fast-moving company that’s powered by its smartest people -- and now, even with 110 employees, F45 still has what Deutsch calls a “flat management system,” with very few layers between him and Gilchrist and anyone else. “It enables decision-­making to be done super quickly and efficiently,” he says, “and still gives people the ability to have some flair and give input.”

This way, the company can execute its best ideas fast…and its members can execute even better workouts.

Read more from our January/February 2020 cover story on Mark Wahlberg here

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