How I went from owning a franchise to building my own brand in 1 year and the lessons I learnt along the way

owning a franchise to building my own brand in 1 year and the lessons learnt along the way

Adala Bolto is the co-founder and creator of ZADI Training, a new fitness movement that is set to be Australia wide in no time, with plans to open 50 locations in the next 18 months.

Adala started in the fitness industry 12 years ago. 8 Years ago she became a Club Manager of a Fernwood Fitness gym. 5 years ago she bought a Fernwood franchise and in 2017 she developed her own franchise concept in partnership with Fernwood Fitness. If anyone knows the ins and outs of the franchise world it is Adala. Here are some learning’s that she picked up along the way.

A franchise saves you from having to start your business from scratch

The best thing about buying into a franchise is that you can become a business owner and it saves you from having to start from scratch when you launch. Generally a franchise already comes with systems and technology in place as well as marketing, PR and ongoing support from head office which is a huge help if you are new to business.

Brand recognition for example is a big thing. If your potential customers are already familiar with the brand it will be a lot easier to attract their attention and sell it to them. This is a huge advantage because it means that you can focus on local marketing and profitability in opposed to spending a lot of time building brand awareness.

For me, prior to developing the ZADI concept, I became a franchisee of a Fernwood Fitness Club. I had been managing the club for 4 years and needed a new challenge. I also felt that with the support and systems that head office offered me I could focus on taking my club to another level by investing more time in my team and customer satisfaction. I managed to double our member base in 1 ½ years and felt confident with what I experienced with regards to a winning franchise formula. That is, teaming up a great brand and product with smart and passionate business operators.

Technology for Quality Control

While a health club is still an incredibly popular and successful business model, the growth of sophisticated technology has allowed brands like ZADI implement processes that are more seamless from the get go, which is great for quality control and scalability This is critical when franchising a business.

With ZADI, the core of our concept was our female-targeted training programs, our brand, followed closely by the technology, which was created in collaboration with industry leader TechnoGym. The technology that we have created allows us to easily roll out our program across all of the studios with options to suit all fitness levels, giving our clients consistency in every session. It also enhances session delivery and saves trainers and franchisees time in having to develop their own programs, plus it allows us to ensure an efficient and effective workout every time.


Staffing is always going to be one of the most challenging aspects of any business, but again, to ensure quality control from the start I insisted that ZADI workouts must be developed by an industry expert and backed by science. That way we know that we have safe and effective programs ready to go and we can scale these programs with the help of technology.

Operating this way allows us to focus on hiring talent that can focus on the members experience, safety and motivation without also expecting them to develop sophisticated fitness programs – this is critical to consistency and we are already seeing the benefits for our team and clients in our first two studios.

Gamification and Support

A great thing about having a franchise business is that there are other business owners who are literally running the same business as yours so you can bounce ideas with fellow franchisees, learn from each other and of course there is an element of gamification such as working towards being one of the most successful operators.

When I owned my Fernwood Franchise I was always working towards winning awards and managed to win a few. 

Why I created the ZADI Concept

Fitness Boutiques are redefining the industry whereby traditional gyms are having to adapt to the changes that millennials and the younger generation are demanding. Connecting with a likeminded community, flexible specialised services, bespoke programs and the latest technology are just a few of the millennial ‘requirements’…

Additionally reports have shown that Millennials are opting out of their gym membership and services such as small boutique classes, online streaming services and Boot Camp are replacing their gym membership, according to an article published on (lifted from the New York Post), 17 Oct 2016.

Boutique studios are also representing a larger-than-ever slice of the fitness pie – 42% of the market as of 2014, a 100 percent increase over 2013, according to the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association”.

With ZADI, I saw a gap in the Australian market for a bespoke fitness program that specifically targets the younger female market, aged 18-34. We attract women who are empowered and driving the change in the fitness industry; they want to decide how they train, where they train and who they train with. So I pitched the idea of a badass boutique HIIT/Strength studio for women to Australia’s leading female fitness brand, Fernwood. Fernwood CEO and Founder Diana Williams, has been in the industry for 30 years with many awards and 70 health clubs under her belt, which makes her one of the most qualified women in the industry, needless to say that this partnership is a dream for a new brand like ZADI.

ZADI is the first female only franchise to offer effective metabolic HIIT circuit and functional combination programs that are endorsed by exercise science and complimented with innovative technology, smaller trainer/ participant ratios and an environment, which promotes targeted fitness.