How to Keep Fit in Little Time—Walter Vendel, CEO, Fit20

How is your physical health looking these days? Are you in tip-top shape and ready to head to the beach?  

Today’s guest, Walter Vendel, shares how he has grown from 1 fitness studio to more than 160 locations worldwide by helping busy people get in shape by working out for just 20 minutes per week!

  • Fit20 website = CLICK HERE
  • Walter’s Email = walter@fit20.nl
  • If you are ready to franchise your business = CLICK HERE

Walter is the CEO of fit20, a training studio that focuses on helping people get healthy by training just once a week for 20 minutes. 

Their in-house studios are used by some of the largest companies in the world, like Siemens. At this point, there are 140 studios, with more than 300 trainers. With a vision to help millions worldwide, they are expanding rapidly. 

Sponsor

This episode is sponsored by Big Sky Franchise Team. If you are ready to talk about franchising your business you can schedule your free, no-obligation, franchise consultation online at: https://bigskyfranchiseteam.com/ or by calling Big Sky Franchise Team at: 855-824-4759. 

Transcription

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (00:00):

Before we get started on the show today, I wanted to take a moment to thank all of the mothers and moms listening in. I hope that you have a wonderful Mother’s Day with your family and hopefully with your children. I would especially like to thank my wife, the mother of our children, for just being so wonderful and also to thank my mom and my mother-in-law. Lastly, all of us have a mom. So make sure you don’t forget about mom. If you’re a dad out there, especially a dad with young kids, please make sure you do something special for Mom. This is your notice. Mother’s Day is now officially less than a week away. And now let’s get on with the show.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (00:39):

You’ve worked hard to build your business, and now it’s time to grow. Welcome to the Multiply Your Success podcast. I’m your host, Tom DuFore, CEO of Big Sky Franchise Team and a serial entrepreneur. And the purpose of our podcast is to help inspire and foster greatness in you, the business leader, taking your company to the next level.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (01:02):

And as we get started today, I’d like to open up with a question to pose to you about your personal health. And as the leader of your organization and your company, what are you doing to keep your body in shape? And if you’re listening and saying, “Well, Tom, you know, I actually do pretty well. I’m working out multiple times a week and eating well.” Great. Then you know what? You can check out from this question here. But to those of you that aren’t, what is keeping you from taking that next step to do so? But with summer just around the corner, it always pops up as, maybe you’re taking a family vacation, going to be going to the pool or the beach and putting your swimsuit on again, that maybe you haven’t put on in almost a year now, and it’s maybe top of mind. But also thinking about the people who work for you and with you and being responsible to make sure that you’re still around years from now and in good health. And today’s guest is Walter Vendel.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (02:05):

And Walter has built a company called fit20, which is a training studio that focuses on helping people get healthy by training just once a week for 20 minutes. You heard it folks. Once a week for 20 minutes. You might say, “Man, that’s crazy. How do you do that?” Well, he’s going to talk through how he does that through raising the intensity in the workouts. Their studios, he’s based in the Netherlands, by the way, and he’s growing this globally right now. They have locations in Europe and opening in the United States. They actually have about over 160 locations that he’s grown through franchising, which by the way, if you’re thinking of franchising your company, reach out to Big Sky franchise team. We’d love to talk to you about that and helping you through that process. So, let’s go ahead and jump into my interview with Walter Vendel.

Walter Vendel, Fit20 (02:55):

My name is Walter Vendel from the Netherlands and I’m the founder and CEO of fit20.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (03:03):

Great. Well, thanks for being here. Really grateful for that. And maybe to just fill the audience in here, tell us about fit20 and what it is and what you’re doing.

Walter Vendel, Fit20 (03:14):

All right. Well, we thought a long time about the name of our company and we came to fit20 because it’s short and our tech line is fit in 20 minutes per week. And I think that’s something immediately… People may have all raised eyebrows about this and they may wonder what is this? But it captures people. And we’re very upfront about what fit20 is about. It’s about getting fit and healthy in 20 minutes a week.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (03:40):

And that’s incredible. So let’s talk about that, because it seems like every diet, every exercise program, tries to do it quicker, better, shorter time. So, I’d have to imagine, as just a general consumer, we’ve all heard get fit in this amount of time. And so there may be some skeptics, so prove those skeptics wrong that might be listening in. [crosstalk 00:04:07]

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (04:07):

Yeah. So, tell us what you’re doing.

Walter Vendel, Fit20 (04:09):

All right. Well, I came across a book, and this goes back all the way to 2004, that spoke about the new fitness revolution. And it said 20 minutes a week. So I thought, Hey, what am I doing? I’m training twice a week for an hour. So this can’t be true.

Walter Vendel, Fit20 (04:25):

But I have the good fortune, a good friend of mine is a physiotherapist and also used to really treat athletes. And he was familiar with high-intensity training. So he said, compare it, sprinting full-out or jogging. You can jog half an hour if you’ve got basic conditioning, but you can’t sprint for half an hour. So 10, 20 seconds, your tank is empty. So this was the same kind of idea that if you raise the intensity, the time required goes down and it’s far more effective. So there is a real distinction between quality of effort and quantity of effort. This is really the kind of core principle behind it, that you have a quality stimulus that leads to a response in the body. And that leads to very quick adaptations. So on average, we have our clients get stronger, something like 30% to 40%, within the first three months and that’s spectacular.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (05:25):

Wow. Wow. That’s incredible. That’s incredible. So, how do you, high-intensity training, you read it, you learned about this in 2004 and it’s definitely en vogue right now. It’s popular today. So back then, it was probably just an emerging trend, right? With science and data and information coming out. But now it’s definitely become a little more popular, at least in terms of marketing and promotion. So what is it, what does that actually mean, this high-intensity, quality versus quantity? Would you talk through that from a health perspective?

Walter Vendel, Fit20 (06:03):

Sure, sure. So our body is a little bit like the market. It works on the base of demand. So if you don’t demand something, you don’t get supply. So our body is designed to actually start on its slope of decline from the age of, dare I say, 25 years old. So you lose 1% of your muscle strengthen and your muscle mass from that age onwards. But, what people don’t know is that that’s actually very easy to change that. You’re not sentenced to that, but it happens if you don’t know what to do about it. And this is the thing, many people like to watch sports on TV, but not everybody likes to spend three times a week, an hour or more, to get fit. And the good thing is it’s not necessary because if you create the right kind of stimulus, that’s like the demand, the body will supply and your body will adapt.

Walter Vendel, Fit20 (07:10):

So, you get really fitter and stronger and in a very safe way, because we are targeted particularly at 40 plus year old people, because you start on the slope from 25 years old. But the danger is you can be on this slope for 15 to 20 years. And unless you’re a top athlete, you don’t demand peak performance. So you basically still feel fit, but you’re not really as fit as you could be, and you’re certainly no longer as fit as you were when you were 25. Now, great news. You can be 45 and it’s possible to be as fit as when you were 25, but then you got to do fit20.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (07:55):

I love it. Great plug there. That’s perfect. Well, and look, our audience is they’re entrepreneurs, they’re business leaders. These are busy people that are tuning in and listening. In fact, there’s a good chance they may be working out while they’re listening to this or running errands or doing something, right? So, I would imagine that our audience, just in general, is probably a good target market for potential customers for you. So talk about your typical customer makeup and how you actually… What’s that cycle like when someone actually comes through your process?

Walter Vendel, Fit20 (08:31):

Right. Well, we’ve got different kinds of clients, but the typical people for who we are really good solution is the busy people above 40 years old because you’re either busy in your own company or in your own career. And you’ve got, a lot of times, kids growing up. So time is more scarce than money. And so it’s very hard to create the time slots to actually work on your health and fitness levels. So it tends to stay with an intention, and then people start something and then three months down the line, people drop it. Now, the way we handle it. So we’re ideal for busy people, but there are also many people who realize, “I’ve got to do something. I don’t really like sports or fitness activities, but I should do it.” So we’ve got lots of those as well.

Walter Vendel, Fit20 (09:24):

And then we’ve got people play golf, tennis, hockey, all sorts of things. And they want to improve. Also athletes, runners, bikers, and they want to get the basic strength and conditioning to a higher level. And the last category we’ve got lots of is people who’ve had an illness or disease and they’re recovering. And they look for something to get their strength and energy levels back. And they don’t want to go in a big, amorphous gym. They want to have a personal supervision, someone who really understands and feels their body and brings them in a safe way to their limit to strengthen them back up again. So that’s the typical client.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (10:08):

Wow. So, really a broad cross section.

Walter Vendel, Fit20 (10:11):

That’s right. Yeah, that’s right. We’ve got actually lots of different profiles, but we identified six different what we call profiles of members and any of them can really benefit tremendously from us. So we’ve got different markets strategies for these different segments.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (10:32):

Great. And, what about, in terms of your business, when did you start your company and when did you decide? Talk about this process of deciding to franchise and going through that process.

Walter Vendel, Fit20 (10:43):

Oh yeah, yeah. I came across, as I said, I read this book and then I didn’t believe that that could be true, but I found a guy who wrote the book and I say, “Yo, I’m Walter from the Netherlands. I read your book.” He had the studio in Manhattan, New York. And he said, “Well, okay. I understand it’s different than what you’re used to.” And I said, “I want to give it a shot. Do you want to get me up started?” And he wants to come over to Holland because every person absolutely in the US wants to go once in their life to Amsterdam, right?

Walter Vendel, Fit20 (11:18):

So, I gave him the perfect opportunity for that. So that’s how he got started. In 2005, with what I would say a pilot studio, because I still didn’t believe it myself. So, we started working and we got amazing results with clients and ourselves. I started training like this since 2005. And once I saw the results, I thought, “Hey, how can I grow this?” And then I started to look at the distribution model. So either you own, you open up your own centers, or you look for franchising as a fast way to grow. And I chose for franchising. So it took me a few years to prepare everything, the manuals, the contracts, all the brand guides, all that. And we got everything in place by 2009. And then we launched our first franchise studio. Since then, we hit a number of milestones, like a-

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (12:17):

Great. In terms of, I know you’re expanding, about how many units are you and talk about location. Because you’re in Europe or, I think from our understanding, you’re expanding into the states. So talk a little bit about that.

Walter Vendel, Fit20 (12:32):

Yes. So we went first abroad in 2015 to Belgium, which you may not know, but it’s neighbor country of the Netherlands. So I thought it would be a simple thing to do to go through the neighbor country. But turned out that that was not necessarily the smartest move because they speak three languages in that one country. So that was complicated. That was one of the misses in my expansion is I should have taken an easier country as a first international expansion. Even though that was not necessarily smart, we managed to survive it because once you jump, you can’t jump back, so you have to go forward. And that way, if I look back now, we are busy with the 10th country in terms of expanding to them. And in the U.S. we’ve got seven studios opened up now and we expect another 12 this year. So now it’s beginning to get some traction there.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (13:29):

Fantastic. Fantastic. Well, you talked about a miss and that’s a great segue for us to jump into the formula of our show here. So I don’t know if I nabbed out one of your misses, but was there another miss you thought you’d like to share with the audience, something you learned from it there?

Walter Vendel, Fit20 (13:46):

Yes, sure. One of the misses, maybe a small miss, but if people are listening, I recommend start an entrepreneur as early in your life as you can, because I’m a late starter. The good news, however, is it’s never too late. You’ve got people who are just starting in the fifties in business and they’re doing actually fine, but it takes a lot of energy to build a business from scratch. That’s the one thing, if I look back, I wish I’d done that a little bit earlier. And another miss is when we got in what’s known as the white waters, when it gets rough and you feel I’m seriously out of control, because we grew faster than we could handle.

Walter Vendel, Fit20 (14:27):

And the tendency is, because you get in a kind of stress loop is, oh, I have to work harder. Oh, I have to work longer. And that’s really dangerous because number one, you get stupid. And number two, you bring your whole life work balance, the cost of [inaudible 00:14:44]. So that was really a miss. This is where people could get run into burnout, you know? Or, you lose your marriage. My marriage, fortunately, survived it, but it’s definitely been that my wife didn’t see a lot of me for a number of years. And now that’s something you don’t want to have as a permanent future.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (15:04):

Yeah. Oh, that’s great advice. Absolutely. And the burnout’s real. I know that the audience, especially when you’re first starting those first couple of years, three years, you’re working long hours and it’s easy to get into that cycle, for sure. For sure. Well, thank you for sharing that. And how about a make or two along the way that you’d like to share?

Walter Vendel, Fit20 (15:31):

Yes. One make was a big one was when we hit our 100th studio. That’s the milestone and I always projected that we would have that in 2020. But, because I made a projection, we actually got there already in April, 2017. So this is one make, is that if you project your growth, the more you make that mental projection, the more the reality already exists in your head. And then it’s just literally a measure of filling it out. But I never doubted that we would get there. And just like I said, we’re going to be all over the world. And so 10 years from now, we will have at least 40 countries where we will be active. And now, that’s for me, not a question mark, it’s a certainty because we got from one country to 10 countries at the moment, and we’re talking to the next six. So it’s a matter of projecting and believing. And I think that’s a big make. If you doubt yourself in the wrong way, you allow failure to get in, and you’ve got to keep that out.

Walter Vendel, Fit20 (16:47):

I think another big important point was being fortunate to attract the right kind of people. And I really believe in what I call the law of attraction. So you can’t do it on your own, no matter how smart you are. You need a very good team that really buys into the mission and the vision of what we do. And with whom we, you have a very good culture. And I saw the first master franchisees that we attracted. They didn’t join us because of a business model. I couldn’t even properly present a business model in those days. So it was my enthusiasm and on the vision. And those are the people who are the pioneers. And you need some pioneers who really duck their shoulders under it and say, “Okay, I’m with you.” And that’s how we did, I think, the impossible.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (17:42):

Amazing, amazing. Well, thank you for sharing that. And how about this idea of a multiplier? What kind of multiplication have you been doing or using?

Walter Vendel, Fit20 (17:52):

Well, I think there’s a couple of them, but one of them is literally the franchise model itself, because it’s fantastic. We are developing the format and the brand and we’re innovating and strategy, but the franchise owner who runs his own studio, which can be profitable within six to seven months after opening, that’s the person that will make the difference. And this is a great thing, a franchise that you have shared responsibilities and shared investment. So, because they are literally invested in it, they have to make it to success just like we. So that creates the right kind of, “Okay, the only way is to go forward,” and I don’t have to tell them, I don’t have to phone them on Monday morning, “Do you really feel like working this week or not?” They are their own entrepreneurs, so they will go for it fully.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (18:55):

It’s amazing. Well, and you know, I always say on our show, I’m absolutely biased to franchise and it’s been my career. I’ve spent my career in franchising, but for those reasons that you just mentioned, I love it. I’ve seen it change so many people’s lives from the franchisor, to the franchisees that come into the system, to just a growing network as the network grows and expands. Just more opportunities open up to everyone involved, the end customer, the franchisee, it’s really a wonderful situation and really a win-win for all parties.

Walter Vendel, Fit20 (19:33):

Absolutely. So I really believe the idea of a franchise. It becomes an engine, like a train, and people join now. They jump on the running train. So it saves them a lot of time and money and energy and efforts in designing and developing a business. Now, boom. They jump on a running business and they can really make it profitable in no time. And if they do that, there is the great thing of a franchise. You open up your second studio or your third and your fourth. So you decide, depending on your level of ambition, how big you’re going to grow it. So there’s nothing right or wrong. But if you want to, franchise offers you that possibility of multiplication.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (20:16):

Absolutely. Well, and was there anything else you wanted to share on the multiplier side?

Walter Vendel, Fit20 (20:21):

Yeah, I think I’m sure you’re familiar with the idea of the BHAG.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (20:25):

Oh yes, absolutely. Yes.

Walter Vendel, Fit20 (20:28):

I’m a BHAG fan. So now I was introduced to this by Vern Harnish when he was in the Netherlands for a master class. And he said this idea that you have to decide where you’re going to be 10 years from now, and it has to be really completely unrealistic.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (20:47):

That’s right. And for those of you listening in who are not familiar with the term, BHAG, it stands for big, hairy, audacious goal. So a big, hairy, audacious goal. So that’s where he’s going, what Walter is saying here.

Walter Vendel, Fit20 (20:58):

That’s right. So then you discover, when you do that, your first BHAG is not really big enough because your head is not yet grown to contain a big enough idea, at least in my case, because I’m a slow learner. So, I’m on my third BHAG now. So your BHAG can grow along as your grasp of your business and the potential of the market, when you begin to see the clearer, you’ll be at growth. So now we want to have at least 1 million clients worldwide in 2030. That will require us to have 5,000 studios. So, you just decide that. And now I’ve decided that, I work backwards to where we are now. And then you can see what kind of exponential growth you need to create. And the great thing is we’re now at 165 studios worldwide. So that looks insane, but it’s completely planned and it’s going to happen.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (21:59):

I love it. I love it. Wow. Thank you for sharing that. Well, I’d love to hear from you on the final question we ask every guest is, what does success mean to you?

Walter Vendel, Fit20 (22:11):

Oh yeah. I came across, I’ve got a poster in my office of the North American Indians called Kiliakio [foreign language 00:22:23], which means keep going. And that really a success for me because one of the things I’ve come to know is that you have some days where everything goes wrong, but having been through this often enough, after a bad day comes a good day. So it doesn’t matter too much. You just have to keep going. And I think in the keep going, for me is success, because going on leads to growing because you get better. And as long as you take one step each day and you look back a year from now, you’ve covered some ground. And that’s for me, success. I see it much more as a process than the kind of event or a specific result.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (23:13):

Yeah. I really liked that. I like that description that it’s the journey, it’s the process, it’s the going through that is the actual becoming the success or enjoying the success along the way. I like that. I appreciate that. Well, Walter, is there anything that we have not, that you wanted to make sure you were able to get across that maybe we skipped over or didn’t have a chance to say yet?

Walter Vendel, Fit20 (23:40):

Yeah. There’s maybe one thing worth sharing with people is that since a year and a half, and started with the BHAG, but we adopted what we call EOS model, the entrepreneurial operating system. And we really got fanatic about it with an implementer. And since we’ve done that, and we use that now, so with our master franchisees for the countries and any master that now starts with us goes straightaway into that same kind of organizing of your business. So that really has helped us to get not only the BHAG clear, but also your three-year plan, your one-year plan, your quarterly rocks, how you schedule your meetings, how you evaluate your employees, all of that is covered in the EOS system. So what we already had developed within our franchise, combined with the EOS sort of best business practices, that just make sense. It’s not rocket science, it’s just… But, it’s really crafted together in a way that has allowed us to get through the white, wild waters very successfully. And I would wish that for any entrepreneur.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (24:53):

Well, thank you for sharing that. I love EOS. We run on our business on it as well. It’s a fantastic system. And it’s one I encourage for any business, whether just a growth minded business owner, or even a franchise system that’s maybe looking for some process. Maybe there are a few things that they’re trying to refine or fill in some gaps. It’s a great tool to do exactly what you did, combine them together. I think that’s brilliant. Brilliant. Well, Walter, thank you for being here. If someone’s interested in learning more about you, your company, what you’re doing, what’s the best way for them to find out?

Walter Vendel, Fit20 (25:33):

Okay. Well, they can always email me at Walter@fit20nl, or have a look at our website on fit20.com.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (25:42):

Great. And that’s fit20.com. Is that right?

Walter Vendel, Fit20 (25:46):

That’s right. And Walter is like W-A-L-T-E-R @fit20.nl because we’re in the Netherlands with the global headquarters.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (25:57):

Excellent. And we’ll make sure we get that all posted in the show notes and make it really convenient for people to get ahold of you. And thank you so much for being here. I really appreciate it.

Walter Vendel, Fit20 (26:07):

Likewise, thank you very much, Tom. It was a pleasure.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (26:10):

Walter, thank you so much again for a phenomenal interview. And let’s go ahead and jump into today’s three key takeaways. So takeaway number one is when he talked about starting as an entrepreneur, as early as possible. I thought that was interesting. He said he started late, so it’s never too late to get started and get going on it. But he said, looking back, he wished he had done it sooner. But I would argue, when you listen to this Walter, that you kind of did. I thought it was amazing that you reached out to that author who had written this, found this, research and did this study that you reached out to and said, “Hey, can you help me with this?” I thought that was amazing. So when you hear something, go after it. I thought that was fantastic.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (26:56):

Number two, he says he loves the BHAG and having a big, hairy, audacious goal. And he believes in the law of attraction. So those two really kind of go together. Basically goal setting and really focusing on it, asking for it and going after it. And then number three, success for him is to just keep going. I love that. Keep going because when you keep going, you keep growing. A great takeaway from him there. And now it’s time for today’s win-win.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (27:33):

So today’s win-win comes from when Walter talked about the multiplier he has used to grow his business, which is franchising. And yeah, it’s probably a little self-serving for us because we help you franchise your business in my company, Big Sky Franchise Team. However, how he described it was amazing. I’ve never heard this analogy as long as I’ve been in the franchising business. He described franchising as like a freight train and that it’s this locomotive, it’s this train that’s operating. And when you first start, he said, you need some pioneers to come on. So think of this as you’re the locomotive. If you’re that entrepreneur or business owner, franchising your business, a great visual. You’re looking to find those pioneers to latch their train car onto the locomotive to start building that train. And once it gets going and you get enough train cars latched on, which we’re talking about adding franchisees into the system, it just keeps moving and going. It gains momentum and steam, and it works for all parties involved when it’s working well.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (28:37):

So I thought that was really well said. So Walter, thank you so much for that. And that’s our episode today, folks. Thanks for tuning in. Please remember if you are interested in franchising your business, needing help with manual updates or anything, give us a call over a Big Sky Franchise Team or send us an inquiry online or email me directly. And we look forward to having you back next week.

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