Even as the needs of exercisers change, time is still one of the most valuable commodities to consumers. Unable to spend hours at the gym, highly efficient styles of fitness are gaining favor.
We caught up with Ben Camper, president of Basecamp Fitness, a coach-led, HIIT fitness franchise operated by Self Esteem Brands. Ben shares how the 35-minute workouts create an edge over competitors, as well as the adjustments the brand has made to stay in growth mode.
Can you introduce yourself and Basecamp Fitness?
Ben Camper: I started in the fitness industry in 2009 when I walked into a 24 Hour Fitness in Hollywood, CA. After a brief post-collegiate career playing professional hockey, I was hired as a personal trainer there.
Throughout much of the following decade, I took on increasing roles and responsibilities, gaining experience as sales manager, general manager, and district manager before accepting a corporate role leading strategic operations. During this period, I also was a member of the original Basecamp Fitness studio in Burlingame, CA — what I think is the most efficient and effective workout on the market.
So, when the opportunity came to join Self Esteem Brands (parent company of Anytime Fitness, Basecamp Fitness, The Bar Method, Waxing The City, and Stronger U) and lead the Basecamp business, I jumped on it.
Basecamp’s secret sauce is the hyper-condensed, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workout. We pack 50 minutes of supercharged, coach-led exercise into just 35 minutes by having members alternate every 60 seconds between heart-thumping cardio on an air bike and strength moves on the floor.
The vibe is collaborative—not competitive—and in the end, the level of intensity and energy comes down to a “you vs. you” mentality, with members being huge supporters of one another throughout those challenging 35 minutes.
My role as president of Basecamp Fitness is to serve the company’s team members, franchisees, and other stakeholders while supporting their vision to deliver the most effective and efficient group fitness experience available.
What sets Basecamp Fitness apart from other studio concepts?
BC: Competition in the fitness industry—and, in particular, the boutique studio segment—is fierce. We are competing with other national, well-funded brands that have grown in scale over the past 10 years. So, we need to ensure our brand is differentiated from others in the market.
Fortunately, Basecamp Fitness is unlike anything else available in the boutique fitness space. We obsess over the consumer experience and are committed to supporting our franchisees and studio leaders in executing their playbooks. We do this in an effort to reduce friction in the member experience and create moments of surprise and delight during our classes.
For example, our scientifically validated programming helps our members get the best results in the shortest time possible. Other benefits include a new member trial, class scheduling tool, and our Basecamp app and Apple Watch partnership, which allows members to track their workouts and get real-time feedback.
All of these features help our customers achieve efficient and effective results while having fun in an energetic community. And this is something that has resonated in every market we’ve entered.
What’s your plan for continuing to grow the business?
BC: We’re continuing to expand Basecamp in key markets across the country. Currently, we have 14 locations open, with an additional 75+ in the development pipeline.
Earlier this year, we signed a large 20-unit agreement to launch our brand in Florida across markets including Jacksonville, Tampa, Orlando, and parts of South Florida.
We’ve also signed development agreements to debut in Kansas City, Boston, Charleston (South Carolina), and Des Moines. We’ll also add to our California footprint with new locations in San Diego, San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose
Beyond these immediate openings, our five-year growth plan targets more than 200 open locations across the US, as well as a few international locations.
Additionally, as part of Self Esteem Brands, we’re excited to partner with existing Anytime Fitness franchisees looking to diversify their fitness portfolios, as well as new prospective franchisees seeking their next investment opportunity. As a franchisor, the support and expertise we offer are unmatched. And our incredible shared services team has helped grow Anytime Fitness to the largest fitness brand in the world.
How did the pandemic impact Basecamp Fitness?
BC: There’s no question that the pandemic has forever changed the fitness industry and how people approach their fitness routines. The rise of virtual content has been fun to watch, and brands are now challenged to think about how they can engage with their members both inside and outside of their four walls.
However, we have seen most people return to their local gyms and fitness studios simply because it’s an experience that can’t be replicated in a virtual environment. Many of our members join Basecamp Fitness because they want to engage in and be a part of a community that challenges, motivates, inspires, and guides them along their fitness journey.
These members want to check out of their daily lives for 35 minutes and get a sweat in that helps power them through the rest of the day.
Rooted in community, Basecamp’s unique programming actually pairs members up on our air bike to achieve specific cardio goals in every class. And our franchisees and their staff create unique environments which help motivate members to become the best versions of themselves — and keep them coming back for more.
There’s a growing belief that the industry is shifting toward omnichannel or hybrid fitness. What’s your take?
BC: Successful brands meet consumers where they are. But, the truly transformational brands are those that anticipate where consumers are going and are at the forefront of serving those needs.
Basecamp members often combine coming to the studio three to four times per week with the other activities they enjoy as a part of their fitness routines. So, whether they’re partaking in yoga, boxing, or dedicating time to mindful meditation via their favorite app, our stance has been to create a membership structure and ecosystem that help our members achieve their fitness goals both in and outside of our studio walls.
That’s why the Basecamp app tracks all modes of activity, and our quarterly challenges incentivize omnichannel offerings. It’s all in an effort to help our members get results while providing the best possible experience — a focus that we believe will keep us in a great position as the fitness pie expands.
Anything you’d like to share with readers?
BC: The last few years have certainly presented challenges for our industry. At Basecamp Fitness, we’ve been fortunate to weather the storm and quickly pivot back into growth mode.
With more of a need than ever for consumer health, we see the boutique studio segment as perfectly positioned to offer a differentiated, community-driven experience. Our franchisees are passionate small-business owners, and our job as a franchisor is to create the roadmap for them to succeed in serving their local communities.