New gym brand jumps into Denver market

The Fitwall fitness concept dedicates part of the class to a wall-mounted ladder workout. Photos courtesy of Fitwall.

The Fitwall fitness concept dedicates part of the class to a wall-mounted ladder workout. Photos courtesy of Fitwall.

A California fitness franchise is climbing into Mile High country.

La Jolla, California-based Fitwall will launch its first Colorado location this fall in a brand new mega apartment complex on Speer Boulevard.

The company holds group workout classes, similar to CrossFit or OrangeTheory, but uses wall-mounted workout equipment and shorter classes.

Franchisee and Highlands resident Megan Busby said she hopes to open her Fitwall studio this fall.

“I was looking for what could be the next big thing, but not something that was the same thing as everything else,” Busby said. “I was doing research and saw that (Fitwall) was featured in Fast Company as one of their most innovative fitness companies in 2014, so I reached out to (Fitwall CEO) Josh Weinstein.”

Megan Busby

Megan Busby

Busby chose the 2,100-square-foot facility at 2785 Speer Blvd. because of its central location and the demographics of the Highlands neighborhood.

“It gets close to 70,000 drive-bys per day,” she said. “The Highlands has great demographics for it, too – there’s younger families and young professionals who have some disposable income and an active lifestyle.”

It’ll cost between $400,000 and $500,000 to build the gym, Busby said. Around $150,000 of that will be construction, $30,000 will go toward furniture and $15,000 for new computers. Busby also needs to buy 18 Fitwall ladder machines at $5,000 apiece.

Golden architecture firm Studio DH drafted plans for the building. Busby hasn’t yet hired a contractor for construction.

Franchising fees include an initial $45,000 payment, 3 percent of revenue for royalties and another 2 percent of revenue in marketing fees.

Fitwall has two major advantages over its group fitness competitors, Busby said: shorter workouts and a higher student-to-instructor ratio.

“The classes are all 40-minute sessions, which is a huge plus – it’s easier to fit in with people’s lifestyles,” she said. “And the fact that it’s a maximum of 18 members with two coaches gives each class a higher value per dollar. It feels like you’re getting a personal trainer at a low cost.”

Busby said she plans to hire five employees: one head trainer and four other coaches. Each class has one coach to lead exercises and another that walks around the room checking customers’ form.

The Fitwall device is similar to a wall-mounted ladder with an iPad on top that leads the member through a workout.

“You do about 40 percent of the class on the wall and 60 percent on the ground or with pulleys,” Busby said. “It’s all body weight. But you’re constantly hanging on, so all of your muscles are engaged. That way you can get strength and cardio training at the same time.”

Busby, 29, is a graduate of the University of Denver’s MBA program. Born in Steamboat, she grew up a gymnast and runner before branching into newer fitness concepts.

“I started experimenting with CrossFit, barre, and finally OrangeTheory,” she said. “I got really interested in the group fitness craze that’s happening right now. I like that it feels like personal training, but without the high price tag.”

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