Curves Franchiser to Launch Weight-loss Chain That’s Antithesis of ‘Biggest Loser’
When the hit NBC show “The Biggest Loser” helped contestants shed hundreds of pounds, it did it using traditional approaches — reducing calories and ramping up exercise.
And, as studies later found, most of the people ended up gaining the weight back.
“Sure, they dropped weight. But they dropped muscle as well and they destroyed their metabolism,” said David Ramadan, a former Virginia delegate who franchised more than 50 Curves Fitness women’s-only gyms in the Middle East.
Now, Ramadan is building his next business model around an opposite method from “Biggest Loser.” He is launching a wellness franchise called REVOLISM out of Chantilly next month, aimed at helping individuals lose weight by using information gleaned from their metabolism.
Ramadan licensed a program called The Metabolic Code based on a similarly named New York Times-bestselling book, “Cracking the Metabolic Code” by registered pharmacist and certified clinical nutritionist Jim LaValle.
Ramadan became aware of the program after his friend, Bassel Haidar, and Dr. Andy Heyman, both George Washington University instructors, started their own company, Metabolic Code, to offer a framework for physicians to help patients better manage their metabolism. Ramadan said he wanted to franchise the concept and market directly to consumers at a lower price, using a nonmedical assessment and urine and saliva testing. REVOLISM will charge customers a $99 fee for a metabolism assessment and monthly customized plans between $99 and $300 that include recommended supplements, diet and exercise.
REVOLISM’s first locations will likely be in Fairfax or Loudoun counties but Ramadan declined to be more specific. He plans to expand in D.C., Maryland, New York and New Jersey with hopes of opening 250 locations in all in the next five years. He acknowledges it is an ambitious goal, but believes it’s possible because of the uniqueness of the concept, lack of competition and the low cost for franchisees.
A traditional franchise, which requires a location and will have a defined and protected territory, will cost between $17,500 and $67,500, plus real estate costs — or about $100,000.
In addition to physical locations, franchisees can also open mobile versions of REVOLISM that travel to customers and do not have defined territories and cost $2,500 up front, royalties capped at $200 per month for the first two years and working capital and marketing expenses for a total investment of $10,000 to $30,000.
REVOLISM franchisees will be trained and certified at George Washington University’s medical school where Heyman, who is director of the university’s Integrative Medicine Program, already teaches the Metabolic Code program to doctors. “It’s a way to assess what your body needs now, fulfill those deficiencies, deal with all the other factors that affect weight such as gut problems or stress problems, and treat all of that,” Ramadan said.
He is raising $1.5 million in a private placement, mostly through family and friends, and is more than halfway to his funding goal, he said. Right now, the business only has a few employees and relies mostly on contract work for tasks like marketing and IT.
Though, the challenge remains marketing the brand in a sea of new fitness and wellness options opening and expanding across the region. Ramadan said he’s learned his lessons from Curves International, which had to downsize from previous heights of 10,000-plus locations to more than 4,000 across the world.
“They oversaturated, and as neat of an idea as it was — and as unique as it was when it started — it was easily duplicated: Thirty minutes worth of equipment, you put it in a small location, you make it accessible, easy and inexpensive. Very quickly, the system was replicated by other companies,” he said. But this program was developed on 30 years worth of research, he said. “We don’t have that issue here.”