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Award-Winning Innovation: Recovery Focused Services Boosts Membership Value

July 8, 2024
When AF Franchise Owner Mark Ireland learned about the recovery benefits of red-light therapy, he decided to build a “premium membership” bundle that included the service. His members proved his hunch right, opting for the premium membership at a rate even Mark was surprised to see.

In 2005, Mark Ireland and his wife Helen sat across from each other at dinner and talked about what was next. They both were interested in building something of their own. Mark was inspired by dynamic spaces - bustling pubs or busy gyms. Helen enjoyed the serene experience of an afternoon at the spa and the restorative sweat of a fitness workout. They decided to look for a fitness concept they both liked and found it with the startup franchise gym Anytime Fitness. The Irelands saw the potential to create a home for wellness in their community through Anytime Fitness and opened their first club soon after.

Over his incredible 18-year journey with Anytime Fitness, Mark has always been on the lookout for fresh ways to make club memberships even more valuable. He's been deeply involved in developing new strategies to take the member experience to the next level. Most recently, in 2023, Mark had this lightbulb moment and decided to bring in red light therapy – a form of recovery that uses specific wavelengths of red light to reduce inflammation and enhance tissue recovery. Given Anytime Fitness’s commitment to holistic health and wellness, incorporating red light therapy was a natural fit with the recovery suite. Mark didn't just jump into it; he did his homework and even experienced its benefits firsthand at local spas, making sure it was the ideal fit for his Anytime Fitness members.

Fast forward to last month's 23rd annual Multi-Unit Franchising Conference, where Mark’s dedication and pioneering contributions were recognized with the MVP Innovation Award, marking a significant milestone in his transformation from dreamer to respected industry leader among the industry’s top franchisees.

To bring the idea to life, Mark incorporated a premium membership expanding recovery options to include red light therapy – this complemented monthly EVOLT scans, and regular check-ins with a coach. This premium membership fosters open communication between members and coaches about their progress, dismantling barriers of intimidation. The impact within Mark’s club was huge and led to a shift in new memberships and upgrades from existing members, with 28% of new members opting for the premium membership tier. The momentum carried into 2024, witnessing an astonishing 55% increase in premium upgrades within the initial two months. This strategic pivot not only bolstered membership revenues but also significantly reduced attrition rates, fostering a stronger sense of member engagement and satisfaction.

Consumer insights continue to show that there is a never-growing demand for recovery options and additional support throughout the fitness journey. The impact that Anytime Fitness sees from Mark’s gyms isn’t an anomaly but a part of the broader strategy of building recovery within the Anytime Fitness franchise opportunity. Through developing the recovery sector Anytime Fitness has helped franchisees find in-demand recovery services for their members to capture the growing demand – empowering franchisees to explore new revenue streams.

Beyond his award-winning innovations, Mark is an active member of the Anytime Fitness Franchise Advisory Council, representing Region 3 and contributing significantly to the brand's growth and evolution. His experienced, yet fresh perspective has given other franchisees a roadmap to achieve the same success that he has. Through his dedication and leadership, Mark has transformed not only his own five clubs in Washington state but, like many of our franchisees, has changed the lives of tens of thousands of individuals who have benefited from the accessibility to holistic fitness.


Mark’s impact transcends the boundaries of his clubs. He serves as an inspiration to aspiring entrepreneurs and franchisees, urging them to reimagine possibilities and adapt to evolving landscapes. Through his journey, he is igniting self-confidence, being thoughtful in the process, and always learning new ways to make members smarter about their own bodies. As his recent success with red light therapy shows, even two decades after opening his first AF Mark continues to look for ways to innovate and improve the experience for his members.


If you're ready to join a supportive community where your contributions matter, innovation thrives, and every member is valued, consider the opportunities available as an Anytime Fitness franchisee. Join us in shaping a healthier, happier world, one wellness journey at a time.



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