Married couple Anna and Mark Fitzhugh had long wanted to own a business. With Mark's background in sales and marketing, and Anna's in accounting, the pair felt they had a solid combination for doing so. For 15 years previous, Anna Fitzhugh worked with a charity organization when some friends mentioned Curves International Inc., a 10-year-old Waco, Texas-based fitness company that caters to women. In 2002, the Fitzhughs invested about $90,000 to open their first Nashville-area Curves, located in Franklin. Anna Fitzhugh Enterprises LLC operates the couple's six franchises.
There are 38 Curves franchises in the Middle Tennessee market and you have the most (six). What is your growth strategy?
Our growth strategy can be summed up in really one word: results. Our 30-minute total-body workout includes not only cardio and stretching but also strength training, which is key to protecting and increasing fat-burning lean muscle. Our customers see results in weight loss; however, the reduction in heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, osteoporosis and arthritis has been a key to our success and long-term growth. So we will continue with this successful fitness program as a part of our strategy.
In 2006, I am very excited about our new Weight Management and Nutrition program being offered to Curves non-members, which should double our customer base over the next 16 months. We understand that women are busy and that they do not have 1-2 hours to devote to exercise. Curves is a 30- minute workout or what we like to call "efficient fitness" for women who don't have a lot of time to devote to personal fitness, but want to be healthy, productive and have all the benefits that exercise gives them.
Currently, we are not in discussion to lease additional space for more Curves.
How competitive is the local fitness facility industry?
The local market is extremely competitive. We know that women have more choices than ever when it comes to personal fitness. Again, I mention that key word: results. There are all types of workout machines and programs in the marketplace. How many times have you joined a facility and stopped working out only after a few months? At Curves, it's not the machines that make us successful. It is the support of our fitness instructions and a community of women working together. One of the best benefits of the Curves Experience is our knowledgeable fitness technicians who are focused on being with members to help motivate and assist in their workouts. We have a program that we think is unique from other workout facilities. We are always working to make sure that we are satisfying the needs of our members, because if we do not someone else will.
Nationally, Curves International wants to establish itself as a leader in the weight-management movement. Your thoughts?
I am excited about our new "6 Week Solution" weight management program. The "6 Week Solution" is the result of an ongoing 5-year study and has been validated in two studies performed by Baylor University Exercise and Sport Nutrition Lab. The program is designed around increasing metabolism. Once the goal weight is achieved, eating normally and healthfully will actually increase metabolism. Only a couple of days each month are actually dedicating to dieting. As the eating cycle is continued, metabolism is raised and women will enjoy "permanent weight loss without permanent dieting." It will be the end to the yo-yo diets we know today.
How did the "business of fitness" become such big business in the U.S.?
In the past 20 years, there has been a "fitness boom." People are becoming more aware of themselves and they want to not only live happy lives, but they want to live long and full lives. Obesity is also becoming an epidemic in this country and many Americans are taking control of their lives. According to the American Heart Association, 107 million Americans adults are overweight and 44 million are considered obese. Exercise and life-long fitness are essential to every person in that regard. The country has sped up to break-neck speed. We are all on the go, hustle and bustle. Curves is the perfect solution to a woman who works a full time job, has family, and a list of a 1,000 things to do. Our 30-minute workout program is designed for that very purpose, to meet the fitness needs of women in a society where everything seems to be on fast-forward.
What is your management philosophy?
Honestly, the best way to manage is to have a strong team and team concept. "Strengthening Women" is our mission statement at Curves. Everyone is working towards that goal. Our fitness coaches believe that their job at Curves is "worthwhile work". They know they are changing lives and making the world a better place. If we didn't have a strong team then it's likely that we wouldn't be very successful. The old saying "T.E.A.M. - Together Everyone Achieves More" may be a bit clich