When the COVID-19 pandemic first hit Australia in early 2020, it threw the fitness industry into a tailspin. With new guidelines mandating strict health and social distancing protocols and lockdowns, particularly in Victoria, which had one of the longest and strictest lockdowns in the world, thousands of gyms and health centers were forced to close or try to wait it out.
Not Ultimate You Change Centers.
Instead, the fitness chain sprang into action. Led by founder Andy Anderson, who is fast becoming a recognized name in the global world of health and fitness, Ultimate You embarked on an innovative business strategy and restructuring process. The result? An expanded and thriving company at a time when others have succumbed to the sagging economy.
In the space of four years, Ultimate You has grown from one location, founded in Melbourne in 2012, to 18 locations across the country and more than 4,000 members, becoming one of the fastest-growing health and fitness franchises in Australia.
From humble beginnings as a carpenter in a rural town in Australia, Andy Anderson is leading the charge with his inspirational and innovative take on health, body, and mind, and is helping hundreds of thousands of clients transform their bodies and lives at a time when many people have been sedentary and uninspired. Forbes sat down with Anderson to talk about his success.
Tell us what this year has been like for you.
Anderson: When the pandemic first hit, many gyms closed and went into a sort of hibernation. But I knew that’s when our clients needed us the most. Our focus has always been on what is best for them and how we can help them achieve that. Instantly, Ultimate You created our UY University for our members to experience online classes, not only for physical exercise and health, but for their mental health as well. We provided daily classes, online mindset coaching, multiple events and educational seminars, as well as inspiring interviews to help our clients through these challenging times. Then, our most recent inclusion, we boldly added free telehealth psychology sessions for all our members, which is a world-first in the fitness industry.
How have you restructured?
As a company, we have reduced overheads, streamlined operations, and automated sales and marketing systems—all aimed at coming out of the pandemic leaner, more efficient and more competitive than ever before.
On the program side, we have always tried to evolve both from our years of experience and the feedback we have received from our clients. Today, our workouts are more tailored, depending on the goal of the client: Do they want to build muscle? Do they want to shape their physique? Do they want to focus on endurance? We have specific programs for all of these goals. The delivery is also going to be a lot smoother with each program having its own online app access with all of the clients’ workouts and nutritional information provided right on their phone. We will also be providing more online options for people who are not able to make it into the gym or who still do not feel comfortable going to the gym, and soon we will be implementing new technology with exclusive apps that will allow our clients to track workouts, get workout tutorials, access nutrition plans, and book classes. We have been able to keep our community close through this time when we have been forced apart. Whether through our online Zoom classes or just having online coffee catch-ups, there have been consistent interactions with our community.
Even before this challenging year, your business was growing. To what do you attribute your success?
We’ve always focused on the client’s success. It’s not about getting numbers on a list. It’s about changing the lives of every person that sets foot through the doors. This is evident when you come to learn the mission of Ultimate You, which is “to facilitate and inspire extraordinary change in one million lives across Australia.” Also, we are always improving and innovating to ensure our franchisees can thrive in a competitive marketplace. We are a client- and service-focused company that demands results on every level, which is why we continue to grow at such a rate.
Is it true that you offer fitness services for free?
Yes! That’s our Ultimate You flagship Transformation Program. People put down a cash deposit but receive a full refund when they achieve their weight loss target of either 9kg in 6 weeks or 5kg in 4 weeks. And, going forward, we’re relaunching that program so the deposit is no longer requested and the program is completely free from the start.
Our Transformation Program is wildly popular and creates raving fans. This is an opportunity for us to show new clients our great service and care, and to help them achieve results they have not been able to achieve elsewhere. It is also a chance for them to become part of the Ultimate You community, and they will sign up for an ongoing membership or other programs that we can offer to help them progress with their health and fitness journey.
What else are you planning for 2021?
Ultimate You facilities are set to open 24/7, and we’re releasing six cutting-edge programs:
- Boss Shred: to shred fat while building lean muscle.
- Boss Fit: to increase muscular and cardiovascular endurance.
- Boss Strength: to increase muscle strength and muscle mass.
- Alpha Shred: offering mindset, nutrition and training coaching that I’ve designed specifically for men who want to become the alpha of physical and mental wellbeing.
- Shred Queen: similar to Alpha Shred, but designed specifically for women by Ultimate You managing director Andrea Hui using methods and techniques that have helped her win multiple awards in body-building competitions.
On top of all of these amazing innovations, we have some game-changing scientific technology that will be added to our chains early 2021, so stay tuned!
And more expansion?
There is a current waiting list of people queuing for franchises, and we are anticipating large scale growth for 2021. We’re so passionate about providing unparalleled results, advanced tools, and scientific-based strategies. Now more than ever we realise how important our vision is and will do anything to make this a reality. To help expand our philosophy and reach, we will also be launching a mainstream TV show to be aired nationally across Australia called The Ultimate Transformation, which will focus on our company, our incredible clients and their amazing results. Often the greatest companies use challenging times to break the mold and rise to a new standard. Rather than wallowing and focusing on the negatives, my team and I have committed to taking massive action so we are stronger, faster and more agile coming out of COVID and charging into the future.”
What lies ahead for the world is uncertain but what you can be sure of is that no matter what challenges, adversities or hard balls that are thrown our way Andy Anderson and Ultimate You seem to be ready for anything. In a time where people have leaned toward the negative it is a breath of fresh air to see a business recognize the opportunities that COVID has brought along with it and is taking action to improve the lives and health of its clients and the world.
Disclaimer: The views, suggestions and opinions expressed here are the sole responsibility of the experts. No Forbes India journalist was involved in the writing and production of this article.