Australian-born HIIT studios F45 Training and Body Fit Training (BFT) have a lot in common, and that fact was at the center of recent a patent lawsuit.
While F45 cries copycat, the fitness studio has an impressive head start.
- Founded in 2013; the company has 2,200 franchises sold in 63 countries
- Aggressively franchising locations on college campuses, golf clubs, and more
- IPO’d in July 2021 ($FXLV) with $1.2B market cap
- Founded in 2017; the brand counts 300+ franchises sold in four countries
- Acquired by publicly-traded Xponential Fitness ($XPOF) for $44M in October 2021
- Seeking to rapidly scale US operations beyond Santa Monica and Ft. Lauderdale
Both HIIT studios feature large classes with exercisers divided into stations. Often run by one or two trainers, the studios rely on video screens that demonstrate form and reps, pulling from a large library of programming.
- F45 claimed “remote configuration and operation of fitness studios from a central server” was their IP.
- After three years on the docket, Australian courts ruled these claims were overbroad and invalid, calling them “generic computing technology.”
Of note, F45 also sued BFT in a Delaware court in 2020. The case remains ongoing.
What it means: Upon first glance, F45 commands a sizeable lead in the fitness world.
The brand has celebrity endorsement from Mark Wahlberg and David Beckham — and it just hired celebrity trainer Gunnar Peterson as Chief of Athletics. With the purchase of Aussie Pilates platform Vive Active to support omnichannel operations, F45 appears to have a clear path forward.
So, why is this a blow for F45? Answer: Xponential Fitness.
Owner of 10 fitness concepts, including BFT, Xponential has a reputation for rapidly scaling its brands.
- Xponential has over 2K locations open and an additional 1K franchise agreements sold around the world.
- Rumble, acquired by XPF in March 2021, has since grown from 10 studios to 200 franchises sold, with 100 studios planned for Australia.
- Xponential upgraded its production studio for its streaming service, GO in late 2021.
- Xponential Fitness is set to open boutique studios inside LA Fitness and City Sports Club locations, with a minimum commitment of 350 franchise locations over five years.
Looking ahead: Much like the patent wars in connected fitness, boutique operators are trying to hamstring competitors. Despite the legal win, BFT will encounter new challenges in the States, moving into territory already dominated by F45 and Orangetheory Fitness.