What you Need to Know About Fitness & Sports Franchising in Canada

Sports and fitness are always on people’s minds. They’re either thinking about their own fitness or that of their children. That makes it an ideal time to look into sports and fitness franchising in Canada.

There’s always new franchising opportunities popping up in the sports and fitness sector. From women-only gyms to fitness bootcamps to children’s activity centres, you can find an opportunity for you.

The sports and fitness sector includes:

  • sports and exercise equipment supply,
  • sportswear retail,
  • sports bars,
  • weight-loss clinics and services,
  • personal coaching,
  • gyms and more.

If you are interested in the retail side of things, you can open an athletic shoe store or a sports equipment shop. If you want to help people lose weight, you can go for a weight loss clinic. There are so many ways you can go in sports and fitness franchising.

Gym, Health and Fitness Clubs

IBISWorld estimates the gym, health and fitness club industry in Canada to be worth $3 billion. It grew 2.3% annually from 2012-17 and nearly 7,000 businesses in the industry employed over 54,000 people over the past five years.

As a result of consumer trends toward being fitter and healthier and the proliferation of public health campaigns urging Canadians to think more about their health, the industry has strengthened over the past five years. With obesity in Canada still being a problem according to the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), government efforts will continue to encourage people to take care of their health and fitness and fitness outlets will reap the rewards.   

The top three keys to success for gym, health and fitness clubs, according to IBISWorld, are easy access for clients, effective product promotion and economies of scale, which joining a franchise can help with.

Franchising is common for gyms and fitness centres. Sometimes they have a special niche like women-only or children and sometimes they have a theme, like military style training.


Competition within the sports and fitness franchising industry is fierce. Franchisees are not only competing with each other, they are also competing with non-profits like the YMCA and various community centres. There are also online fitness trainers, television fitness trainers and workouts people can do in their own homes. There are also independent freelance trainers who are not affiliated with any company, and people who opt to do their own fitness program at home without any outside help, although these people are good for sports and fitness equipment retailers.

All this competition is a key reason why joining a franchise is extremely helpful when you enter this market. You get to harness the power of the brand’s reputation and marketing clout, plus franchisees can utilize the franchise’s economy of scale to help purchase equipment.


We’ve already mentioned gyms geared specifically toward women and children, but on the other end of the scale is geriatric fitness centres to help elderly people stay fit as they age. All those retired and retiring Baby Boomers want to prolong their active lifestyles and that means staying healthy and in shape.

As of last year, there were over 11 million people aged 55 and over in Canada, representing 32% of the overall population. That’s a big market to tap into.

Weight Loss Services

Things haven’t been quite as rosy for the weight loss services industry, according to IBISWorld, with the market actually shrinking by 3.6% annually between 2012-17 due to external competition like healthcare providers offering weight loss surgery and other alternatives.

One bright spot for the industry was an uptick in the demand for meal replacement products, which appeal to both consumers who are short on time and health-conscious consumers who use meal replacements to supplement their nutritional intake.

Even though the weight loss industry had it tough over the last five years, it is still estimated to be worth $237 million. IBISWorld expects demand and sales for these meal replacement products to grow over the next five years and help the entire industry turn around and start growing again.


In addition to fitness centres and weight loss services, there is a whole list of accessories and peripheral items to fitness that are perfect for franchising opportunities, including: equipment, supplements and protein powder, clothing, weight reduction products and shoes.


Sports-related franchises also play a big role in making staying healthy fun. Much like how the fitness industry is diversified, the sports industry can entail any of a number of different franchise types.

Retail outlets are an obvious franchise opportunity, but the sports industry also includes traveling drug testing franchises, artificial turf franchises, sports-themed hair salons, sports training facilities, recreation centres, sports leagues and many other opportunities.

And don’t forget the fans. Even if people are not participating in sports themselves, they’re often watching sports, cheering on their favourite athletes and buying sports apparel to represent their favourite team. Sports fans’ enthusiasm is good news for anyone interested in opening a retail store that specializes in sports team apparel or opening up a sports-themed restaurant and/or bar. There is always a major sports season beginning just as another league’s season is ending, meaning there are big games happening year-round to keep people’s interest.

If you love fitness, sports and helping people live healthy, happy and active lives, you might just find a home in the sports and fitness franchising industry. Let the top-notch consultants at FranNet help you find your perfect fit for fitness franchising. Take that first step toward business ownership by signing up for a free FranNet franchise search and consultation today.

Apr 24, 2018