We opened our first fitness club in 1996, Bio Ritmo, in São Paulo. We soon realized that we needed to stand out to be different from the options that already existed on the market. So in 1997 we opened a new unit with a completely innovative architecture: with a special lighting design and an environment that provided a sophisticated experience.
In order to grow, we sought some benchmarks in the United States and the United Kingdom by looking at what established brands were doing. That’s when we decided to focus only on group classes and cardio and weight training equipment instead of offering dozens of complex modalities and structures.
By prioritizing the primary areas of large cities, we were able to reduce the size of the clubs and cause that WOW effect we wanted so much.
In 2003, we adopted a new management model to improve the quality of our services. Now evaluated by the NPS (net promoter score), our team began to work completely focused on customer satisfaction. Clarity of objectives and total focus on the customer helped reduce administrative costs, such as those with employee supervision.
In 2008, we were already the largest high-end chain of fitness clubs in Brazil and, therefore, we were invited to participate in the Roundtable in the United States, where a group of entrepreneurs from different countries discussed the best practices and industry strategies. That’s when we learned about the low-cost gyms, like Planet Fitness, and we decided we wanted to bring this model to Brazil. In 2009, we launched our low-cost, high standard operation: Smart Fit.
At first, customers and the market were impressed by the new offer, especially when they compared the quality of services with the cost of 49 reais per month. From the beginning, Smart Fit maintained the high-standard experience that the group already offered. In addition to having state-of-the-art equipment, architects and lighting engineers were also hired to build a high-end environment that was scalable.
It was difficult to compete with Smart Fit: while the Black Plan (which gives access to all units) was R$ 69,90 per month, the Smart Plan (access to a single unit) was R$ 49,90 per month. From the beginning, we have been able to create a pricing strategy for each region.
Since then, the Smart Fit Group has never stopped evolving. In 2012, we added group classes to the program of the clubs, which increased the share of the female audience from 40% to 50%. More than that, we attracted people who, until then, did not identify with the routine within a gym. In 2015, we created the HIIT training, which is an effective 30-minute functional training that optimizes the use of the club’s space.
Expansion took place faster with the entry of new investors. In 2019, when we opened one club every 16 hours in December (a total of 87 throughout the year), we had another round of equity. In March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic forced the group to slow the pace and close the clubs during the lockdown period in the countries where we operate. The bad scenario was turned into an opportunity: we acquired Queima Diária, the largest online training platform in Latin America, and prepared our units to help a population that was increasingly concerned about health.
Currently, the Smart Fit Group has more than 900 units, both own and franchised, in 13 countries and the number of customers is around 2.4 million. With all this evolution, we are the fitness chain that has expanded the most worldwide in the last 5 years, becoming a market Share leader in Latin America, according to the 2020 Global Report on the last 5 years of IHRSA – (International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association – a global class entity of the fitness industry).