What happened to the F45? ‘Huge problems’ behind the fall of the fitness empire
F45 co-founder Rob Deutsch said that “never in his wildest dreams” could he have imagined the sudden downfall of the fitness empire he launched in 2013.
The Australian gym behind what actor Mark Wahlberg calls the “best workout on the planet” took a hit to its global ambitions this week after revealing it was laying off 110 staff.
It came as Adam Gilchrist, who shares the same name as the Australian cricketer and founded the company alongside Deutsch, suddenly announced he was stepping down as CEO and chairman of the board. administration of the company.
F45 said it was massively scaling back its expansion plans “amid changing macroeconomic and business conditions.”
After planning to roll out 1,500 new franchises this year, F45 will instead be aiming for between 350 and 450 and its projected revenue has risen from $275 million to $130 million.
The announcement had a devastating impact on the company’s shares, which fell more than 60% on Wednesday (US time) to a low of 79 cents.
It had improved to $1.59 by Thursday afternoon, but was still miles away from its first listing on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in July last year at a value of $16.10 per stock.
Deutsch, who stepped down as CEO of the company and sold his shares in 2020, was stunned by the developments.
“Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined this,” he wrote on Instagram. “When I came out and sold F45, I left behind a healthy and phenomenal beast of business. From the corporate culture to the heartbeat of the business… The workouts. F45 was special.
“I sincerely hope that all 110 laid-off employees find happiness and opportunities elsewhere.”
Deutsch’s post received dozens of comments from F45 franchisees and dedicated gym attendees, providing insight into what contributed to the company’s collapse.
The former Sydney banker said there were ‘huge issues to work out’ when asked if F45 could bounce back and seemed to agree with a Hawaiian F45 coach who suggested the decision to going public was a mistake.
The account of an F45 franchise in Canada also appeared to claim the company made decisions during the Covid shutdowns that were “crushing”.
“We want you to always be involved,” F45 Training Doon commented. “The decisions they’ve made during damaging shutdowns have been overwhelming for franchises. It’s mind blowing what the last 2 years have been like, especially if you opened during the pandemic. Just absolute hell in Canada… I hope there will be a positive twist.
Deutsch replied, “I hope so too.”
F45’s press release offered few details about where it all went wrong over the past 12 months, but said “market dynamics” made it difficult for potential franchisees to secure loans for the roughly $250,000 it costs to set up a gym.
The company estimates that reducing its workforce by 45% will result in a return to positive cash flow. But it’s a far cry from the bells and whistles that rang the public launch on the NYSE last year and it’s rapid early growth that Deutsch said was faster than franchises like McDonalds and Subway in Australia.
F45 was founded in 2013 and quickly grew in popularity for offering what it calls 45-minute functional workouts.
The company’s move to the New York Stock Exchange made headlines in July last year, netting Mr Gilchrist $500 million overnight.
The company’s investor, Hollywood star Mark Wahlberg, also enjoyed a similar windfall at the time, but reportedly sold 1.1 million of his shares in March and April for $12.2 million (17, 45 million Australian dollars), according to the FRG.
“You want to be in there with the energy of people working with you, by your side, inspiring you, pushing you and supporting you,” Wahlberg told CNBC ahead of the company’s U.S. market debut.