After weathering the pandemic, the boutique boom of the 2010s is picking up right where it left off. But, franchisors are still faced with many of the same limitations — namely, variety and accessibility.
We caught up with Danyal Ali, president of XPASS, a cross-brand fitness subscription launched by global boutique franchisor Xponential Fitness. Dan discusses the launch of the program, as well as the effect the subscription has had on both customer retention and acquisition.
Can you tell us about your background and landing at Xponential Fitness?
Dan Ali: I’m a seasoned leader with analytics and strategic execution experience in a number of industries, including health & wellness, pharma, real estate (as a founder with exit), consumer marketplaces, aviation, and retail. Most notably, I was global head of strategy & analytics at Gympass and, preceding that, head of strategy & analytics at Groupon.
I joined Xponential Fitness because of its mission to make boutique fitness accessible to all. Boutique fitness helps people find their community, and as someone who didn’t have that growing up, I wanted to help expand the movement.
My experience came full circle when trying an Xponential brand (STRIDE) and something so simple as having my name written on a sign outside the studio door.
Prior to my first Xponential-run class, I had never run more than two miles because I believed that I couldn’t. Then, at my second STRIDE treadmill class, I ran five miles.
That’s the feeling. There’s electricity in boutique fitness—and especially Xponential Fitness brands—and I’m excited to share that with everyone.
What is XPASS and why did XPOF pursue this initiative?
DA: XPASS is the first multi-modality fitness pass of brands owned by Xponential Fitness, giving users access to thousands of classes across our 10 concepts — opening the door to over 2K studios worldwide.
Since Xponential Fitness owns the brands, we have a greater ability to communicate with brand leaders, allowing us to constantly innovate the product. Additionally, our fully integrated technology gives customers the best possible experience while also helping our local owners attract customers who value variety in their fitness regimen.
XPASS is a great product for someone just starting out with their fitness journey. It’s also the perfect substitute for someone that has had a gym membership for years.
For example, my father loves going to the gym, but he also loves guidance with his routines. Xponential brands are able to offer that support with professionally trained instructors who create a welcoming environment and personalized experience.
XPASS is also a more economical solution, especially in comparison to a personal trainer that would cost much more. And with 50K+ weekly classes available on XPASS, my father (and those like him) can easily discover activities he loves for however he wants to work out that day.
How is XPASS performing so far?
DA: One of the goals of XPASS has been to drive more brand awareness in local markets and fill more classes. And, though still early, the subscription model has proven to be a powerful acquisition tool for the broader Xponential system. We’ve seen a cohort of XPASS members (who had no prior studio relationship) purchase an additional membership or class pack at our studios.
How does it impact studio performance and member engagement?
DA: To boost franchise studio performance and member engagement, XPASS is focused on providing more value to our customers by building up membership benefits. These include things like new partnerships, class challenges, community events, and specialty class offerings.
It’s also easy for XPASS customers to toggle and navigate between the Xponential brands, tailoring their fitness journey to their specific wants or needs. Plus, we’re constantly upgrading our technology for seamless on-demand booking and engagement, which is somewhat atypical for many other fitness experiences offered today.
Our franchise partners benefit by getting access to XPASS immediately. And any XPASS prospect in the area is notified of the studio launch, providing the owner access to a list of potential customers from day one.
Additionally, we consider it a happy customer journey if a new Xponential customer starts with XPASS and ultimately joins a specific studio long-term. This helps boost franchisee success and keeps customers in the XPOF family.
And with our focus on franchise partner happiness, I truly believe that we have created the most equitable fitness subscription out there for studio owners and customers.
Anything else you’d like to share with readers?
DA: With XPASS, Xponential puts the franchise partner front and center.
We allow franchise partners input on the price for a studio visit and provide a spread utilized by our dynamic pricing engine. Then, based on dynamic pricing and available inventory, the booking is automatically priced. Once a seat is sold, subsequent seats are then dynamically calculated with our pricing algorithm.
Offering this dynamic pricing model at a local studio level is advanced in the space. And we’re excited to be leading the charge in this area.
XPASS is also a great fit for traveling customers, like business professionals or frequent vacationers. After landing in a new city—without an individual membership—customers can hop into class formats they already love or one they’ve never tried before.
In addition, XPLUS (our on-demand digital subscription) is included in most XPASS plans — giving every customer fitness options at home or in the studio.