From the navy to the gym: Adrian Haywood’s career change

15 Dec. 2014

WA-based Plus Fitness franchisee Adrian Haywood spent the first half of his career working on helicopters in the navy. 

“This was a fantastic way to start my career and I really learned what it was like to work to a strict system and as part of a successful team,” he says.

When he left the navy in 2006 Adrian continued to work with helicopters, where he worked his way up the ranks.

“I joined Bristow Helicopters and spent the next five years working on large oil and gas helicopters. I was engineer in charge of the company’s largest Australian base at the time. I had around 20 to 30 guys under me and was responsible for 13 large helicopters.

“Prior to buying into our first Plus Fitness 24/7 I was the senior base engineer of Western Australia’s state rescue helicopter,” he adds.

TICKING ALL THE BOXES

Adrian and his wife Angela were interested in a turnkey business, which led them down the franchising route.

“Initially I wanted something that had nothing to do with food and was five days a week only. A broker said, ‘that narrows it right down pal.’  

The pair went on to research the 24/7 gym market, and found Plus Fitness the most appealing. “Once you start digging deep and looking at the fine print you realise Plus Fitness is a standout performer,” Adrian says.

The key benefits he and Angela identified include:

·         Low entry cost

·         Low ongoing costs

·         It’s a full turnkey business

·         Great training

·         The business is 100 percent Australian owned

“My wife and I regard [Plus Fitness co-founders] John and Nigel, along with [field manager] Amy as family. These guys have changed our lives and we are just so thankful every day,” he adds.

TRAINING & SUPPORT

While Adrian didn’t bring any fitness industry experience to the business; his time with the navy has proved beneficial, as has Plus Fitness’s training and ongoing support.

“The navy taught me about systems and rules, and my work with a couple of the world’s leading helicopter companies taught me some business sense,” he says.

The pair was impressed by the franchisor’s initial training in particular. “It really gave us a lot of confidence to get into it and have a red hot crack. By the time the day came to open the doors, we felt ready.

“After all, the Plus Fitness head office was just a phone call away if we ran into any difficulties. That is the true benefit of a franchise system – ongoing support,” he adds.

Adrian is all praise for their field manager, too. “Amy is just nothing short of amazing. She too owns her own Plus Fitness gyms, and she manages Plus Fitness Health Clubs (another business model in the Plus Fitness group).

“Ange and I have not met anyone yet, other than the franchisors themselves who are as hard working as Amy. If we have a problem and can’t work it out, she is our solution 24/7. Just like us, Plus Fitness is her passion."

PLANS FOR THE FUTURE 

The pair has been with the brand for three years now, and they own two gyms – in Pinjarra and Halls Head.

They have long-term goals for their clubs, and don’t plan to leave the business anytime soon. “Our goal is to be the 'go to' fitness centre in the Peel area [in WA] today and in 10 years’ time,” Adrian says.

“We are here to stay and we want to help as many people as possible to achieve their health and fitness goals. We truly want to build a reputation in the local area for great service and the friendliest staff.”

He is aware of the role a club’s staff can play in its success, and there will be a continued focus on this going forward.

“We want to guide/coach our staff and personal trainers to be the best they can be and build a successful team.

“We have passionate, friendly and very helpful staff. Having a gym is one thing but having a truly great gym comes from within the walls of a great organisation,” Adrian adds.